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:
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.
Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization