BREAKING NEWS

Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Ahwazis arrested in Syria

Ahwazis arrested in Syria

Concerns have been raised by Syrian human rights groups over the arrest of three Ahwazi students and two refugees in Syria.

Syria and Iran have forged a closer alliance following the US invasion of Iraq, fearing that their sovereignty may also be undermined. The arrest of Ahwazis in Syria, two weeks after an Ahwazi uprising in the Iranian province of Khuzestan, has raised fears that the Syrian government may be targetting Ahwazis on behalf of Iran.

The families of those detained have reportedly been denied access. Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera TV network says the men are alleged to be affiliated with the Al-Ahwaz Arab Peoples Democratic Popular Front, a separatist Arab group involved in the uprising. The group has called for their release of the prisoners, but has not confirmed whether they are members.

The transfer of the prisoners to Iran could constitute a violation of international law, which states that no country is allowed to hand over prisoners to their country of origin if it endangers their lives. Al-Jazeera reports that the Syrian Human Rights Organisation has called on the UNHCR to intervene to prevent their deportation to Iran, claiming that they face imminent danger to their lives if they are handed over.

The death toll of Ahwazi Arabs at the hands of security forces in Khuzestan over the past two weeks is over 160, according to the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, which is in contact with local hospitals, tribal leaders and victims' relatives.
Demands for Ahwaz journalist's release

Demands for Ahwaz journalist's release

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) has added its voice to the growing demands for the release of Ahwazi Arab writer Yosef Azizi Banitrouf, who was arrested on Monday after he denounced the killings of Ahwazis in Khuzestan.

In a press statement, the UNPO called on the Iranian government to release Mr Azizi Banitrouf and all Iranian political prisoners detained since the Ahwazi uprising began on 15 April.

UNPO urged the international community - and in particular the European Union - to address the issue of minority rights and freedom of speech in all the bilateral and multilateral talks with Iran.
Ahwazi unity in EU appeal

Ahwazi unity in EU appeal

Representatives of Ahwazi Arab political parties and community groups held a demonstration outside the European Commission offices in London today to press for EU action over human rights abuses in the Iranian province of Khuzestan.

Non-governmental organisations - the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, Ahwaz Community Association of the UK, Al-Wfa Society of Al-Ahwaz and the British Ahwazi Friendship Society - and the three main Ahwazi Arab political parties - Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz, Ahwaz Liberation Organisation and the Al-Ahwaz Arab People's Democratic Popular Front - handed in a joint declaration to the Commission's offices.

The statement outlined the historical injustices against the Ahwazi people and detailed the recent events in Khuzestan, including killings by security forces and arbitrary arrests. It urged the Commission to call for:

1. An end to the cycle of violence initiated by the regime against the Ahwazi people

2. Full observance of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

3. The creation of an independent, multi-national commission to investigate human rights abuses against Ahwaz people

4. An end to all land confiscation and other programmes that undermine Ahwazis' economic welfare

5. Respect for the Ahwazi people's freedom of speech and association

6. The release of all Ahwazi prisoners of conscience

7. International mediation to reverse the injustices done to the Ahwazi people during 80 years of Iranian rule

8. The right to self-determination for the Ahwazi people, in accordance with the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations

Nasser Ban-Assad, BAFS spokesman, said: "This is a display of unity by organisations that have very different aims and ideologies. It shows that in the face of adversity, Ahwazis are working together to bring a halt to the injustices and persecution they suffer in Iran."
Solidarity with imprisoned Ahwaz journalist

Solidarity with imprisoned Ahwaz journalist

Campaign group Reporters Without Borders has called for the release of Ahwazi journalist Yossef Azizi-Banitorouf, who was arrested on 25 April after a radio interview.

"We strongly deplore the arrest of Banitrouf, who was simply expressing his personal opinion in articles and in interviews given to other newspapers," it said. "As soon as a journalist speaks out in Iran, the authorities crack down, either by closing the paper concerned or throwing the journalist in prison."

Azizi-Banitorouf is a leading Arab intellectual in Iran and had defended Ahwazis who began demonstrating against the regime on 15 April and condemned the violence. He worked for 12 years for the daily Persian-language paper Hamshari but was sacked when hardliners took it over. He now writes for several other papers.
Weekend events in Ahwaz

Weekend events in Ahwaz

The Ahwaz intifada is becoming increasingly organised, with Ahwazi Arabs defending themselves with arms following the killing of more than 130 demonstrators since the uprising began on 15 May.

On Saturday night, an armed group attacked an army convoy while it was heading toward the city of Sabe Tallal (in Farsi Haft Tappeh). According to reports, four army officers were killed in the attack. In Syyahi, two security force vehicles were set alight. Four police stations were attacked in Falahiya, injuring four policemen, while in Abadan tyres were set alight by Ahwazi Arab protestors.

Local Ahwazi Arabs destroyed a sugar refinery in Meenaw, which was founded by former President Rafsanjani and a candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections. The plant had been closed since Friday due to fears of attack.

The authorities are continuing to round up and arrest peaceful demonstrations. Around 70 people were arrested in Ahwaz City on Saturday, with a further 50 people arrested in the city of Al-Mohammara (Khorramshahr).
Ahwazi writer becomes prisoner of conscience

Ahwazi writer becomes prisoner of conscience

Yossef Azizi-Banitorouf, a prominent Iranian Ahwazi Arab journalist and writer was arrested today at 2pm, Tehran time.

The arrest by the Iranian security forces occurred immediately after he concluded a press conference in Iran with foreign media on the recent unrest and the Iranian Arab revolt (intifada) against the Iranian regime.

Sheerin Abadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner was also present during the press conference.

Following his arrest, security forces raided his house and confiscated all his books, computers and his belongings.
Names of those killed in Ahwaz

Names of those killed in Ahwaz

The Iranian regime is claiming that only five people died during more than a week of unrest in Ahwaz. BAFS can confirm at least 130 dead. This is a list of Ahazi Arabs who were killed by the security forces and whose families have given their consent for us to display their names. Where possible, we have put the place where they lived and died in brackets.

1 Razi Aboud Alhasoun-Abayat (Aldayara)
2 Mahdi Abd alhosain (Aldayara)
3 Hadi Abd Alnabi (Sabhani)
4 Ali Nadir Khasragi (Aldayara)
5 Ahmad Ban Ali
6 Araf Hasan-Jalali (Aldayara)
7 Hasan Abas-Jalali (Aldayara)
8 Mahdi Abas-Afrawi (Aldayara)
9 Dagar Mola Radhi-Alshoomos (Aldayara)
10 Nasar Hadari (Aldayara)
11 Ahmad Sawari Albonahi (Aldayara)
12 Saied Nawasari
13 Abd Nawasari
14 Nasar Dagagla
15 Nasar Gazlawi
16 Sadag Nawasari
17 Nasar Abayat
18 Adnan Sari
19 Hatam Abayat
20 Hosain Hazbawi
21 Samad Hazbawi
22 Ali Hazbaee (Kowtabdola)
23 Saied Raihani
24 Ali Alkaebi (8 years old)
25 Mohamad Hazbawi (Kowtabdola)
26 Abd Alrahman Torfi
27 Abd Alhosain Mohamad zada
28 Towfiq Saeadi
29 Naji Mazraeawi
30 Jaefar Hazbawi (Kowtabdola)
31 Hosain Nasari
32 Saeid Aonsari
33 Nasar Khasragi
34 Said Khalaf-Mosawi
35 Mahdi Yazdan Abayawi
36 Smaeel Mazraea (Kowtabdola)
37 Ali Abayat
38 Abrahim Gazi
39 Hasan Sawari
40 Ali Mohamad Farisat (Kowtabdola)
41 Ali Fakhar Saieidawi (Aldayara)
42 Naji Abayat (Aldayara)
43 Alam Khasragi (Malashyah)
44 Raza Abdal Hosain Abidawi (Aldayara)
45 Mahdi Hanon-Haidari (Aldayara)
46 Mousa Shamous (Aldayara)
47 Nahi Abayat (20 years old) (Hamidyah)
48 Ali Sabhani (20 years old) (Hamidyah)
49 Ahmad Alkabi (Alhaee)
50 Jalil Karim-Alkabi (12 years old) (Zawyah)
51 Mozan Alkabi (Shoosh)
Ahwaz Intifada intensifies

Ahwaz Intifada intensifies

More than 130 have been killed, 806 injured and 1,700 arrested following a week of unrest in Iran's Arab-dominated province of Khuzestan, said the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) today.

The AHRO, which has been co-operating with Amnesty International's own inquiries, gathered the information through telephone interviews, e-mails and faxes with its contacts in Khuzestan.

Kuwait's Al-Watan newspaper reported that water, electricity and power supplies were still cut from Kut-Abdullah and other parts of the province. The situation is described as "desperate".

Demonstations

Violence continued into its ninth day today, with eye-witness reports of clashes between Iranian security forces and Ahwazi demonstrators in Khafjieh (Sosangerd), leaving seven dead and dozens injured. Six were also killed in Shush. On Friday and Saturday, five people were killed in Maashur (Mahshahr) and two were killed in Fallahieah (Shadegan).

Large demonstrations by Ahwazi Arabs also took place today in Mohammarah (Khorramshahr). Soldiers sealed off the area and arrested hundreds of protestors. Residents claimed that today's Mohammarah demonstration was the largest and most confrontational since a week-long revolt in the city in 1980, which was crushed by Admiral Madani, the then governor general of Khuzestan, killing 316 demonstrators.

Snipers have been deployed on roof-tops by Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz City, where sporadic protests have been broken up by soldiers firing into the air. Gunfire was heard through Saturday night in the city's Lashkar-Abad district. Arab residents of the city are said to be living in terror. Meanwhile, a liquefied natural gas plant in north of Ahwaz City was set alight and was still reported to be on fire on Sunday.

The government's attacks on Arabs have been indiscriminate. Among the dead are pregnant women, children and elderly, with the age of casualties ranging from six to 70 years old. Arab homes and markets have been set alight.

Hospitals are refusing to admit injured demonstrators, some of whom subsequently died of their injuries. Pharmacies have also been ordered not to sell first aid medicines to the injured.

Iranian organisations and groups representing non-Persian minorities, including the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, have voiced their solidarity with the Ahwazi Intifada.

Crack-down

The Lebanese Hezbollah - which is trained in Khuzestan - appears to have been conscripted into the crack-down. Among those attacking demonstrators were Arab-speakers with distinctly Lebanese accents, according to reports on the ground.

The regime claimed it released on Friday 135 detainees arrested in the past week, but their families claim they still have no contact with them. The government has demanded cash bonds of US$1,800 - more than twice the average annual salary of Ahwazi Arabs - to release detainees on bail. Ethnic Arab lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses and university students are still being held in custody as part of the regime's effort to "dry up the source of revolt".

Propaganda
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei led a high-level delegation to Ahwaz City on Friday and staged a demonstration in support of the regime. Up to 1,000 people arrived by bus from ethnic Persian areas to attend the demonstration of loyalty, dubbed "Ahwaz Day" by the regime. Security forces reportedly handed out Arab clothing to the ethnic Persian demonstrators to give an impression of Persian-Arab unity behind the regime. A similar hastily-organised gathering occurred in Mahshahr.
Teenagers shot dead in Ahwaz

Teenagers shot dead in Ahwaz

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have carried out summary executions of teenage protestors on the streets of Ahwaz City, according to eye-witness accounts received by Iran Focus.

The news agency also reported that helicopter gunships have been used to attack demonstrators and a five-year-old boy was killed after he was run over by an APC.

Prosecutor-General of Ahwaz Amir Khani has ordered the arrest of more than 60 people as a result of sustained protests in areas currently under martial law.

A week of civil unrest has followed the circulation of a leaked letter from President Khatami's office, written in 1999 and detailing a 10-year plan to drastically reduce the Arab population in Khuzestan through forced migration. The government claims the letter was a fake, although the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received confirmation that it is authentic from a former official in the presidential office.
A tragic week in the history of Ahwaz

A tragic week in the history of Ahwaz

The number of victims of state violence in Khuzestan is rising daily, while official reports are under-playing the number of casualties.

Since the uprising began on 16 April, demonstration have spread beyond Ahwaz City and have turned violent. On Wednesday, the State Security Force (SSF) base in Molashieh was attacked and the base's commander and his deputy were killed. Clashes were also reported in Old-Mahshar, where residents set government buildings and cars alight.

Death toll

Human rights organisations have been collating casualty statistics through direct contact with local hospitals and victims' relatives in Khuzestan. A report published by Amnesty International on Tuesday stated "at least 31 civilians - including two reportedly under the age of 15 and one possibly a mother carrying a child - have been left dead in the course of these disturbances." By Friday, human rights groups put the figure at over 60, excluding possible deaths in custody or "disappeared". The number of injured is thought to be at least 400, based on figures provided by local hospitals.

Mass arrests

The number arrested is far higher than the amount suggested by the government. The regime claims it arrested over 330 Arabs and had released half of these by the end of the week. Human rights and opposition groups calculated that between 500-1,500 people were detained, some of whom have been transferred to prisons in other provinces. Mosques have also been turned into temporary prisons.

Tribal, community and religious leaders from the Arab community have been rounded up, as well as boys as young as 12. Amnesty International has warned that those held by the regime for interrogation are at risk of torture.

Media blackout

There is a complete media blackout in Khuzestan province. The entrenched international press corp in Tehran is repeating the claims by the regime of single figure casualties and mass demonstrations in Ahwaz declaring allegiance to the Supreme Leader.

However, the movements of foreign journalists and independent monitors are restricted and they are being barred access to Khuzestan. Meanwhile, the region's largest television news network Al-Jazeera has been forced to leave and internet connections have been cut. Telephone lines had been cut and water supplies were halted, but have been restored to many areas.

The picture above was taken from Arabistan.org
Petition: too little, too late

Petition: too little, too late

A petition signed by 180 members of parliament was handed to President Khatamei calling for compensation for damage to civilian buildings. They also condemned the behaviour of "executive officials", who they claim have failed in their duties to Iran's Arab population and have done little to address the root socio-economic causes that led to the uprising. They point out that the Arab community was continuing to suffer as a result of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

Nasser Ban-Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The petition is too little, too late. The War ended 17 years ago. What has the Islamic Republic been doing since then?

"Iran's Arab population made great sacrifices in the War. But they have been paid back for their efforts with a policy of Persianisation, intended to eradicate their identity and marginalise them.

"Since the War ended, the regime has confiscated 90,000 hectares of Ahwazi land for the profits of the mullahs and their business friends. Eighty per cent of Ahwazi Arabs live in absolute poverty and 50 per cent are illiterate in a province that produces 90 per cent of the country's oil.

"Khuzestan remains heavily militarised, but nothing is done to clear the land-mines planted two decades ago. Rural Ahwazis continue to be killed and maimed in their fields due to the land-mine problem.

"Sadly, the only time the Majlis listens is when the Ahwazis take direct action against this tyranny. Only the redistribution of land and wealth to the indigenous Arabs, democratisation and self-determination will satisfy the Ahwazi Arabs now."
Human rights groups voice concern over Ahwaz

Human rights groups voice concern over Ahwaz

Amnesty International and the Paris-based Arab Commission for Human Rights (ACHR) have voiced serious concerns over continuing violence and human rights abuses in Iran's Khuzestan province, following a week of unrest.

Following riots over the government's programme of "ethnic restructuring" in the oil-rich province, the ACHR says it has received reports of "heavy casualties" from hospitals and called on the government to desist from using deadly force against unarmed protestors. The commission has also urged the release of all political prisoners and respect for minority groups' right to free speech.

Amnesty also criticised the regime in Tehran, saying: "The cycle of violence in Khuzestan must end to avoid further loss of life, injury, arbitrary arrest and damage to private and state property." It also called on the government to resume water supplies to Arab areas, which had been cut off to punish the Arab population.

Amnesty added: "There have also been reports of excessive use of force, unlawful killing and possibly of extra-judicial executions of protesters following circulation of reports that up to seven police or security officials had been killed by demonstrators and that the security forces are now operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy."
International condemnation of massacre in Ahwaz

International condemnation of massacre in Ahwaz

The US State Department has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the treatment of Ahwazi Arabs by the Iranian authorities.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said the US was "very concerned" by the reports of killings and mass arrests following demonstrations against coercive ethnic "restructuring" of Arabs in Khuzestan at the weekend.

He echoed Amnesty International's call for restraint and respect for human rights and free speech, including the right to freely assemble and demonstrate.

"In our view, this unrest and these arrests involve the denial of rights of minority groups in Iran," said Mr. Ereli. "The suppression of minority rights is obviously to be denounced, and it is not the first time that Iran has practiced this kind of human rights violation, and it's reflected in our human rights report on Iran."

A report published by the State Department in February drew attention to human rights abuses of Ahwazi Arabs, including the closure of two newspapers and the imprisonment and torture of opposition activists. It also criticised Iran for failing to clear landmines in Khuzestan, which were left after the Iran-Iraq War.
Number of Ahwaz dead rises, oil installations attacked

Number of Ahwaz dead rises, oil installations attacked


The Iranian security forces are carrying out house-to-house operations, arresting at least 1,300 Ahwazi Arab community, tribal and religious leaders and members of their families. The arrests are being conducted ahead of Ayatollah Khomenei's visit to the province on Thursday. Around 800 prisoners are being held in Karoon jail in Ahwaz City with the rest transferred to Esfahan province, following civil unrest in Khuzestan province at the weekend.

The death toll from the crack-down on Ahwazis has risen to 48 confirmed deaths, including women and children. Some reports are claiming more than 60 deaths.

The methods used by Iranian forces attracted criticism from within the establishment. Some 158 lawmakers have signed a petition to President Mohammad Khatami about the unrest, according to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). Their letter called on the government to quickly release any innocent detainees, urged restraint by security forces and compensation for any private property damage. But their calls appear to have been ignored, as the repression intensifies.

In what appears to be retaliatory attacks by Ahwazi militants, oil installations have been sabotaged, although the extent of the damage is not known.

According to unconfirmed reports, a motorcade carrying Iran's Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani and other senior officials visiting Khuzestan on a fact-finding mission was allegedly attacked by armed men and forced to leave the area. A train carrying arms on the Tehran-Mohammara (Khoramshahr) line is also reported to have been destroyed by Ahwazi militants.

The group behind the attacks is not known, although it appears to be in contact with the London-based Al-Ahwaz Arab People Democratic Popular Front (ADPF), a leftist Ahwazi separatist group. The ADPF has not claimed responsibility, but refers to the militants as "brave challengers". It also claims that three members of its organisation have been killed.

The picture above, taken from AlAhwaz.org, shows police operations in Ahwaz.
Amnesty appeal for Ahwaz prisoners

Amnesty appeal for Ahwaz prisoners

Amnesty International has launched an appeal on behalf of Ahwazi Arabs arrested during demonstrations against ethnic cleansing last weekend.

The human rights organisation stated that Kazem Mojadam, Abdoulghader Hamadi, Mojahed Baldi (or Baladi), Salem Beradea, Nabi Manabi, Hassan Manabi, Sabri Houzedar Sefed and at least 130 others currently in detention were arbitrarily arrested and are at risk of torture.

AI's urgent appeal stated that "They are not known to have been charged, or to have had access to legal representation, their families or any medical treatment."

"There are unconfirmed reports that at least 29 people have been killed in the disturbances, and up to 500 injured," said Amnesty. "The security forces have reportedly sealed off some areas of the city of Ahvaz, and cut their power supply, telephone connections and water. They have reportedly used excessive force, possibly including extrajudicial executions, after demonstrators allegedly killed up to seven police or security officials. Reports allege that they are now operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy."

>> Click here to view Amnesty's Urgent Appeal on the detentions in Khuzestan
European solidarity for Iran's Ahwazi Arabs

European solidarity for Iran's Ahwazi Arabs

Members of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDRP), comprising Europe's centrist parties including the UK's Liberal Democrats, have sent messages of solidarity to Ahwazi Arabs following the massacre of at least 23 people in Iran's province of Khuzestan last weekend.

The ELDRP's youth wing, the 210,000-member Liberal and Radical Youth Movement of the European Community (LYMEC) and the Italian Radicals Party have signed a Trasnational Radical Party Appeal that urges the UN, the European Council and their member states to call on the Iranian authorities to respect the human and civil rights of all Iranian citizens, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The appeal also calls for Iran to put an end to its attempts to promote theocracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and to allow a free, independently monitored referendum for the revision of the Constitution and the establishment of a secular, democratic state based on the rule of law.

Ahwazi representatives welcomed the support and asked for all European political parties to petition the international community on behalf of all Iran's oppressed minorities.

>> Click here for the Transnational Radical Party's appeal for a free and democratic Iran