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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...

IRAQ: Ahwazi refugees overlooked by government

IRAQ: Ahwazi refugees overlooked by government

Hundreds of Ahwazi refugees in southern Iraq are living in deteriorating conditions, with little access to basic services such as education and healthcare, say UN officials.

According to a report released in early November by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, there are some 2,500 refugees from the Iranian city of Ahwaz currently in Iraq. They are mainly concentrated in the south, in rural areas near Dujail, a majority Shi'ite city 80km south of the capital, Baghdad. [see: UNHCR Highlights Plight of Ahwazi Refugees in Iraq]

Most Ahwazi refugees sought asylum in Iraq after fleeing neighbouring Iran, where they were accused by the government of serving as Iraqi fifth columnists during the ruinous Iran-Iraq war that lasted throughout much of the 1980s.

"People just came to my house and told us that we had 24 hours to leave Ahwaz," recalled 31-year old Salah Ali, who now lives in an empty government building near Dujail.

In Iraq, however, with prevailing insecurity, conditions for the Ahwazis have worsened.

The UNHCR report highlights dismal living conditions faced by most Ahwazis, who often live in abandoned government buildings and empty schools with little or no access to potable water or electricity.

"Most Ahwazi refugees are either living in public buildings or mud houses that lack water, electricity and sewage services," the report reads. The smell of open sewage in these make-shift dwellings, the report adds, is pervasive.

The report also goes on to state that most public buildings will almost certainly be repossessed by the government in the future, and also remain at risk from mines and unexploded ordnance.

Ziad Kardash, 27, an Ahwazi who lives in an abandoned school in Dujail, said that several of his close relatives had been injured by unexploded ordinance.

"If we leave, we'll have nowhere to go, but if we stay, we could be the next victims," said Kardash.

The report also notes that the lack of healthcare has resulted in widespread malnutrition among children.

"My son is seriously sick because we don't have enough food," said Ali. "Sometimes we have to divide the same plate of rice between more than 10 people."

In an effort to prevent a further deterioration of the health situation, the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS) recently announced it would form a committee to study the case of the refugees and prepare to send medical supplies.

Ahwazis, meanwhile, complain that the current Iraqi government is indifferent to their plight.

"We don't know where to go," said Kardash. "When we go to other governorates, they just tell us it's not their problem and that it is best for us to leave the country."

Government officials, however, point out the difficulties involved in offering refuge in an already poor and war-torn country.

"If we give residence permits to all of them, we'll have more foreigners in our country than Iraqis," said Maj Omar Lattif, a senior official in the department for residency claims.

"We need time to study all the cases. We can't just give residency permits to anyone who comes to our office," he added.

During the Saddam Hussein era, Ahwazi refugees were provided with homes and monthly food rations. Because of their association with the former regime, however, Ahwazis now often face discrimination and harassment.

"My boss fired me after he found out I was Ahwazi," Ali said. "He said Ahwazis don't deserve money from Iraqis because we were Saddam's helpers."

The UNHCR report notes that 80 Ahwazi families were forced out of their homes recently by supporters of the current Iraqi government.

These families, the report adds, were subsequently relocated to a transit centre on the outskirts of Basra City.

This report was written by IRINnews, a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Balochis Appeal to Kofi Annan

Balochis Appeal to Kofi Annan

Below is the text of a letter from the Balochistan Peoples Party (BPP) sent to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday regarding the Situation of the Baloch people in Western Balochistan, Iran.

You're Excellency
On behalf of the Balochistan Peoples Party (BPP) I present my compliments to Your Excellency, and would hereby like to bring the following matter to your urgent attention.

BPP is a Liberal Democratic Party, struggling to achieve sovereignty for the Baloch people within a Federal Democratic Republic in Iran. More than three million Baloch living in current Iran are being treated as third class citizens, for the reason of not being from the ruling ethnically Persian and Shiiat sect of Islam. Under the previous monarchist and the current Islamic regimes of Iran, the Baloch people are deprived of cultural, social, economic, and other fundamental rights.

The BPP would like, in particular, to draw your kind attention to some of the repressive policies of the current Iranian government. The use of the Balochi language is forbidden in public places and Baloch children are deprived of using their mother tongue as the medium of instruction at schools; Baloch children are forced to being educated in the Farsi language; consequently risking the extinction of their native Balochi mother tongue. There are also indications that Baloch ethnicity and Sunni religion are informally and practically used as barriers for Baloch students to enter into higher education systems.

The Iranian government does not allow any kind of press freedom in Balochistan and successive Iranian governments have been engaged in demographic manipulations to systematically reduce the Baloch people to a minority in their own homeland. Government policy has been based on facilitating easy access to non-Baloch to purchase land at a cheap price and set up businesses. The policy of keeping the Baloch backward has resulted in the lack of job opportunities and the impoverishment of the entire population.

Furthermore, among the many repressive policies is the destruction of poor Baloch people's homes in Balochistan and their displacement into rural area. This is done in order to provide the best located land to the non-Baloch, specifically Security Forces which are brought in from other parts of Iran, to fulfil their chauvinistic policies. Not only the high-ranking authorities in Balochistan are non-Baloch, but also the high majority of ordinary governmental officers and clerks are employed from the other parts of Iran and brought into Balochistan.

Recent examples of the Iranian government's brutal and discriminatory policies towards the Baloch nation include the following events; In July 2005 the Islamic regime destroyed thousand of Baloch people's homes in a large area in Chahbhar, a port city in Balochistan, to make place for a new military base and residence area for its security forces. No compensation or alternative accommodation to the affected families was provided; In July 2005 Iranian Para-military agents attacked the township of Nosraat Abaad to arrest a man identified as Dorra Shabaksh near Dozaap (Zahidan), the provincial capital of Sistan and Balochistan. When the Para-military force failed to arrest the man they began random shooting, which resulted in the killing of innocent civilian Baloch women and children.

In August 2005 the village Yakoob Bazaar near Bahoo Klaat area of Balochistan was attacked by helicopters, killing and wounding many innocent civilians, following accusations by the regime that the villagers were helping the Baloch resistance forces fighting Iranian security forces in that area; In September 2005 a Baloch man identified as Houshang Baameri was hanged at a Saturday morning in the city of Pahrah (Iranshahr), accused of killing two Para-military security agents in the area, and later that same month the new government of Mr. Ahmadinejad appointed the Shi'a extremist, Mr. Habibulah Dahmarde, who was widely known for his anti-Baloch and extremist religious views, during his time as principal of the Balochistan University.

The Iranian regime has increased its military and security presence in all regions that are populated by oppressed nations, Ahwazi Arab, Azerbaijani Turks, Baloch, Kurds and Turkmen. In April this year in Alahwaz region, populated by Alahwazi Arabs, security forces fired indiscriminately amongst demonstrators that were protesting against regimes repressive policies; in June several Kurdish people were killed, arrested and injured as they took to the streets in many Kurdish cities after the killing of a Kurdish activist in the streets of Mahabad City. In Balochistan the regime has carried out attacks on certain villages, where security forces have fired aimlessly and killed and injured several civilians as a result. In Turkmen Sahara and Azerbaijan, Turkmen and Turkish regions, regimes security forces have also arrested many cultural activists.

Based on the above, and on behalf of the Baloch people in Iran, BPP kindly urges;

- to raise with the Tehran authorities the issue of the current critical situation of the Baloch people and other minorities in Iran who continue to see their basic human rights violated;

- to call upon the Tehran authorities to immediately investigate the extrajudicial killings of civilian Baloch and other minorities living in Iran;

- and to take immediate measures to ensure that the enforced displacement of the Baloch people is halted.

I hope Your Excellency will give due consideration to the appeal and request contained in this communication.

Yours Sincerely,

Nasser Boladai
Spokesperson, Balochistan Peoples Party
Ahwazi and UNPO Appeal to Javier Solana

Ahwazi and UNPO Appeal to Javier Solana

Below is a letter sent by Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) drawing EU attention to state violence against Ahwazi Arabs in Iran's Khuzestan province:

Your Excellency,

To the kind attention of: H.E. JAVIER SOLANA High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union The Hague, 09 November 2005 On behalf of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO), I present my compliments to Your Excellency, and would hereby like to bring the following matter to Your urgent attention.

The past few weeks have seen an intensification of state violence, including arbitrary arrests and executions, against the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran's province of Khuzestan. We have had reports of a lynching by security forces, extra-judicial killings in Karoon prison and deaths during the dispersal of political demonstrations.

On Friday 4 November, during the Muslim ceremony of Eid al-Fitr, 3,000 Ahwazis staged a peaceful march towards the centre of Ahwaz City, but at 12.30pm were surrounded at the fifth bridge by Iranian security forces who fired tear gas grenades at the crowd. Two Arab youths fell unconscious into the Karoon river and drowned as a result of the attack. More than 200 demonstrators were arrested. The security forces were ordered to attack by General Amir Hayat Moghadam, recently appointed the Governor of Khuzestan by President Ahmadinejad.

Earlier in the same week, 81 Ahwazi Arabs were arrested while conducting a cultural play called Mahibis, a popular event performed during iftaar, following fasting in the month of Ramadan. The arrested included Zahra Nasser-Torfi, a feminist leader and director of the Ahwaz Al-Amjad cultural center, Arab-Iranian poet Hamid Haydari and the entire Mojadam family - Mohammad Mojadam, Hamid Mojadam, Mehdi Mojadam, Rasoul Mojadam, Khaled Bani-Saleh and Hassan Naisi.

Furthermore, tensions have been running high over the arrest of seven sons and close relatives of Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. Two of his sons have been sentenced to death for alleged insurrection. Their executions will be carried out if the Supreme Court approves the death sentence issued by the lower court. All seven have been tortured in prison. On 11 October, Esmail Ghasem Abyat and Lefteh Sarkhi, both human rights activists and students at the Chamran University in Ahwaz, were arrested. Meanwhile, Reza Salman Delphi, a 34-year-old businessman also known as B. Behjat, has been detained since 11 August and denied medical treatment for heart and kidney diseases. The refusal of medical treatment could result in his death.

In the past several weeks, dozens of political prisoners and as well as those recently arrested have been tortured into giving forced television confessionsand a political prisoner at Karoon prison, Said al-Khalafi, was executed in the prison yard. During the last month a spate of bombings - blamed on the British and Canadian governments, separatists, Ba'athists, Israelis, Wahabis, etc - have occurred in Ahwaz. It is widely believed that the bombings have been carried out by government security forces ahead of Mustafa Moin, a reformist candidate in the June presidential elections, threatened to quit as a candidate after complaining that a string of bomb attacks in Ahwaz were being staged to encourage the election of a military candidate.

The Iranian regime is embarking on a massive crack-down on the local Ahwazi population due to growing dissent in the province. This wave of arrests is taking place while many detainees from demonstrations held in April 2005 are still being held without charges and family members fear that they may be executed in a highly charged atmosphere.

Reporters and outside observers have no access to the province, maintaining the state of siege of Khuzestan whose population is 70 per cent is indigenous Arab. Al-Jazeera was banned in the province after it covered demonstrations by Arabs against the government's plan to reduce the proportion of Arabs in the province to a third of the total population.

On basis of the above, we kindly urge You to call upon Iran to stop killing of innocent indigenous Ahwaz Arab people of Khuzestan; and to dispatch an EU fact finding mission to the province as soon as possible.

I hope Your Excellency will give due consideration to the content and request contained in this communication.

Sincerely,

Marino Busdachin
General Secretary
Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization

Karim Abdian
Executive director
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization
Iranian Kurds: Meeting at the House of Commons, UK

Iranian Kurds: Meeting at the House of Commons, UK

Public meeting
The forgotten Kurds of Iran: Mobilising International Solidarity

Wednesday, 30 November at 7pm

The campaign of the Kurds in Iran for their political, social and cultural rights forms part of the ongoing struggle of the Kurds in all four parts of Kurdistan for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question which must be at the heart of a just settlement for all the peoples of the Middle East. Only justice and recognition of equal human rights can bring about reconciliation. This meeting aims to shed light on the situation facing Kurds in Iran in the current political climate, with respect to UK government policy towards the current regime and its change of view on Iran what was once hoped to have dialogue with. Also seek to consolidate support for their struggle within and outside Kurdish communities in the UK, focussing on Kurdish of Diaspora to gain support and gather attention outside the kurdish community the same time to draw up viable strategies for how communities of activism outside Iran can work in solidarity with Kurdish activists, particularly new, young and student movements in Kurdistan.

The meeting is hosted and chaired by Hywel Williams, MP

Committee Room 8 House of Commons, Westminster, SW1

Speakers include:

Dr Nazila Ghanea-Hercock Senior Lecturer International Law, University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies (speaking on policies of the Iranian government regarding ethnic minorities in Iran)

Rosie Kane Scottish Parliament (MSP) Hugo Charlton, International Human Right lawyer-Green Party (speaking on international law)

Dr Paul Todd co-author of "Global Intelligence" PhD research on Iran under Shah (speaking on UK policy in Iran)

UK Amnesty International (speaking on Human Rights in Iran)

Pardeep Singh Rai Panjab, Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group (speaking on Mobilising communities and solidarity)

Kameel Ahmady Kurdish, journalist/student activist (speaking on mobilising the Student Movement and use of Media)

The meeting is supported by UK Kurdish Student Organisation

For information call
Tel 020 87487 917 & 0795 864 7705
Email: ka61@kent.ac.uk
More Details Emerge of Iran's Eid Crack-Down in Ahwaz

More Details Emerge of Iran's Eid Crack-Down in Ahwaz

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) has released further details on the Eid protests by Ahwazi Arabs.

AHRO reports that on Friday 3,000 Ahwazis staged a peaceful march towards the centre of Ahwaz City, but at 12.30pm were surrounded at the 5th bridge by Iranian security forces who fired tear gas grenades at the crowd. Two Arab youths fell into the Karoon river and drowned as a result of the attack. More than 200 demonstrators were arrested. The security forces were ordered to attack by General Amir Hayat Moghadam, recently appointed the Governor of Khuzestan by President Ahmadinejad.

Earlier in the week, 81 Ahwazi Arabs were arrested while conducting a cultural play called Mahibis, a popular event performed during iftaar, following fasting in the month of Ramadan. The arrested included Zahra Nasser-Torfi, a feminist leader and director of the Ahwaz Al-Amjad cultural center, Arab-Iranian poet Hamid Haydari and the entire Mojadam family - Mohammad Mojadam, Hamid Mojadam, Mehdi Mojadam, Rasoul Mojadam, Khaled Bani-Saleh and Hassan Naisi. These arrests were a contributing factor to the Eid protests.

On Saturday, the families of those arrested during the protests marched to the Governor's provincial headquarers wearing traditional Arabic clothing, dishdasha (ankle-length robe) and kafieh (scarf). The families demonstrated to demand the release of those arrested during Friday's demonstration and requested a meeting with the Governor. Using a loudhailer, Governor General Heyat Mojadam began calling them terrorists and Arab nomads, using foul language to insult the families' dignity, culture and identity. He warned the demonstrators that any Ahwazi Arab wearing traditional Arabic clothing would be arrested and ordered the security forces to disperse the crowd violently.

Tensions have been running high over the arrest of seven sons and close relatives of Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. Two of his sons have been sentenced to death for alleged insurrection. Their executions will be carried out if the Supreme Court approves the death sentence issued by the lower court. All seven have been tortured in prison. On 11 October, Esmail Ghasem Abyat and Lefteh Sarkhi, both human rights activists and students at the Chamran University in Ahwaz, were arrested. Meanwhile, Reza Salman Delphi, a 34-year-old businessman also known as B. Behjat, has been detained since 11 August and denied medical treatment for heart and kidney diseases.

In the past several weeks, dozens of political prisoners and as well as those recently arrested have been tortured into giving forced television confessions. In the past week a political prisoner at Karoon prison, Said al-Khalafi, was executed in the prison yard. Also, last week the body of an Ahwazi Arab activist was found in Karoon Rover, which runs through Ahwaz City, and another was lynched in the Arab city of Hamidieh and hung from a street light.

In the past few weeks a spate of bombings - blamed on the British and Canadian governments, separatists, Ba'athists, Israelis, Wahabis, etc - have occurred in Ahwaz. It is widely believed that the bombings have been carried out by government security forces ahead of an intensification of the government's land confiscation and ethnic cleansing along the Shatt Al-Arab. Mustafa Moin, a reformist candidate in the June presidential elections, threatened to quit as a candidate after complaining that a string of bomb attacks in Ahwaz were being staged to encourage the election of a military candidate. However, the regime has blamed the British government for training "terrorists".

Khuzestan is off-limits to reporters and outside observers while maintaining state of siege of the province whose population is 70 per cent is indigenous Arab. Al-Jazeera was banned in the province after it covered demonstrations by Arabs against the government's plan to reduce the proportion of Arabs in the province to a third of the total population.
Iran: Ahwaz Eid Protests End in Arrests

Iran: Ahwaz Eid Protests End in Arrests

Following Friday's Eid prayers, 3,000-4,000 young Arabs clashed with police after marching from Darieh (Shilingabad) wearing Arabic clothing towards Naderi in Ahwaz City's centre.

Police attacked the crowd with tear gas grenades as the marchers approached the city's 5th bridge and beat and arrested youths. Vigils were held at the homes of those arrested and injured by the police, with groups of people offering gifts and comfort to their families. Some Ahwazi homes raised black flags in protest at the regime's repression during Eid.

The regime tried to portray the demonstration as a separatist ploy to generate unrest, claiming that a group called the Arab People's Group had staged a riot. No group of this name exists. The march and demonstration were largely a show of local defiance against state repression, which has increased following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's installation as president.

The government has suggested that all Ahwazi Arab unrest as a foreign conspiracy, although the government's own statistics reveal high levels of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and child malnutrition. The adversity suffered by Ahwazi Arabs is occurring in a region that contributes 80-90 per cent of the country's oil production. Independent assessments, such as the one carried out by UN Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari in July, have highlighted the adverse economic impact of land confiscations on Ahwazi Arabs. This has been a major contributor to civil unrest in Khuzestan.
UNHCR Highlights Plight of Ahwazi Refugees in Iraq

UNHCR Highlights Plight of Ahwazi Refugees in Iraq

A report on Iraq published by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has drawn attention to the plight of Ahwazi Arab refugees in Iraq.

There are at least 2,500 Ahwazi refugees in Iraq, most of whom arrived after fleeing conflict between Iran and Iraq. According to the UNHCR, "they are predominantly of rural background, and live in local settlements in Southern Iraq near the Dujailah area 45 kilometres west of Al-Kut."

Before the Iraq War, the refugees had been provided with land and houses by the Iraqi government, having been forced off their land by the Iranian regime. This created resentment among local Iraqis, who have persecuted the Ahwazis since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

According to the UNHCR, around 80 Ahwazi families forced out of their homes by supporters of the new government, which contains parties sponsored by the Iranian regime, have been relocated to its transit centre on the outskirts of Basra City. The report adds that "they were later evacuated by the Iraqi authorities and ever since have been scattered throughout the Southern Governorates. Many attempted to return to Iran, but came back to Iraq due to alleged harassment by the Iranian authorities and difficulties reintegrating following years in exile."

The UN agency's report states that "most Ahwazi refugees are either living in public buildings or mud houses that lack water, electricity and sewage services. Most public buildings will almost certainly be repossessed by the Government in the future, and also remain at risk from mines and unexploded ordinance."

The UNHCR says that the Ahwazis now face problems obtaining new residency permits, which has been an obstacle to obtaining public services such as education. The agency is in the process of conducting an in-depth survey to register them and acquire necessary data. It also said it had received reports that child labour was prevalent among Ahwazi refugees and that Ahwazi refugees were being denied equal access to health services. The agency added that "most Ahwazi children are suffering malnutrition".

The report states that "many Ahwazi refugees face severe problems as regards adequate housing and access to public services such as education and health. The 104 Ahwazi refugees in the Baghdad area face similar problems to those faced by Syrian and Palestinian refugees."

Click here to read the original document
Iran: Amnesty Concern Over Bawi Brothers Death Sentence

Iran: Amnesty Concern Over Bawi Brothers Death Sentence

Amnesty International highlighted the possibility of the imminent execution of the sons of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi in a report published on Wednesday. The text of the report (AI Index MDE 13/065/2005) is below:

Iran: Further information on fear of torture and ill-treatment / Incommunicado detention and new concern: Death Sentence.

Imad Bawi and his brother Zamel Bawi have reportedly been sentenced to death. It is not known what they were convicted of, or whether there will be an appeal. If there is no appeal, and the sentence goes directly to the Supreme Court for ratification, they could be executed at any time.

The brothers' father, Hajj Salem Bawi, was reportedly released on 28 August. He apparently met three of his sons while he was held in Amaniya Prison, in the city of Ahwaz. He could see that they had been ill-treated.

The five Bawi brothers and their cousin Asad Bawi were reportedly arrested on 11 August, and Hajj Salem Bawi later that day when he made enquiries about their whereabouts. It is not known precisely when Mansour Tayouri or Hassan Boughedar were arrested. The Bawi family are prominent in Ahvaz, in the province of Khuzestan, which is home to most of Iran's Arab minority. Relatives have reportedly claimed that at least three of the detainees have been tortured physically and psychologically.
Iran: Tehran Bombings Point to State Terrorism

Iran: Tehran Bombings Point to State Terrorism

Bomb attacks on the offices of British Petroleum and British Airways suggest that hard-line elements allied to the Iranian government are carrying out terrorist acts to put pressure on the British government.

On Wednesday, a small bomb exploded outside the offices of the British companies, the second time the offices have been targetted in the past three months. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks and no-one has been arrested. The bomb attacks came a day after the government-backed Union of Islamic Students of Iranian Universities issued a statement threatening to beseige the British embassy. It read: "We warn brutal and slavish regimes such as the British government to stop their evil mischief before the violent fires of the Muslim nation burn you, or else you will face consequences similar to the capture of the den of American spies" - a reference to the 444-day occupation of the US embassy that began on 4 November 1979.

Ahwaz City has also witnessed bomb attacks, the most recent carried out on 15 October when six people were killed after two explosions in a shopping centre. The city also saw attacks in the run-up to the June presidential election, which reformist presidential candidate Mustafa Moin suggested could be the work of those seeking the election of a military figure.

The bomb attacks in Ahvaz have been followed by a wave of arrests of Arab tribal leaders, intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists. However, the attacks on BP and BA have not led to a similar crack-down on violent anti-Western elements who are either allied to or supported by the regime.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The regime arrested 30 Arabs just hours after the Ahwaz City bombings and claims that all have confessed to carry out the attacks and receiving training from the British. The regime claims it has been more successful than any other government in the world in arresting terrorist suspects. So why has it been unable to identify and arrest those responsible for bombing British companies in Tehran?

"The fact is that almost every terrorist act in Iran is carried out by the government and its allies. The Ahwaz bombings were intended to implicate the British in terrorism and to rally nationalist support behind hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The regime does not care if a few Arabs die in the attacks, for it has been willing to sacrifice Arab lives and livelihoods for the sake of its land confiscation programme in Khuzestan.

"The bombings of British firms in Tehran were carried out to terrorise British companies into putting political pressure on the Blair government to back down over the nuclear dispute. But this time it chose smaller and less lethal bombs in order not to turn public anger against the anti-Western line adopted by Ahmadinejad.

"The Ahmadinejad administration is one of the cruellest and most violent in Iranian history. No-one should under-estimate the extent it will go to in order to achieve its objectives."