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Bodies of tortured Ahwazis found in Karoon River

The bodies of two murdered Ahwazi Arab men involved in recent demonstrations have been found washed up on the shores of Karoon River in Ahwaz City in Iran's province of Khuzestan.

The bodies were covered in raised round bruises and their hands had been tied behind their backs. The men appeared to have been badly tortured before being drowned in the river.

The discovery came just weeks after the Iranian security forces crushed a peaceful uprising by Ahwazi Arabs against the regime. At least 160 people, including a pregnant woman and three children, were killed by army snipers and death squads in the crack-down that followed mass demonstrations in Khuzestan's towns and cities. Around 1,000 indigenous Ahwazis were arrested, including tribal leaders and intellectuals.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "This was no ordinary murder. The photographs of these men show that they were beaten and tortured and deliberately drowned. This is typical of the brutality meted out to those who oppose the Iranian regime.

"There is no such thing as reformism in the Iranian establishment. President Khatami is directly responsible for state violence waged by this totalitarian theocracy against opposition parties and ethnic minorities.

"Ahwazi opposition groups are urging Ahwazi Arabs in Khuzestan to boycott the elections to show that they will not acquiesce with a political system that wishes to crush them, impoverish them and deny them their cultural and linguistic identity. The Ahwazi people are united more than ever in their desire to see a peaceful end to oppression in Iran."