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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.