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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...

UNHCR: Syria lied over return of Ahwazi refugees

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has suggested that the Syrian government lied to the UN and broke international law when it secretly deported four Ahwazi Arab refugees to Iran in May (click here for UNHCR's statement).

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said the organisation was "extremely worried" about the four Ahwazis who Syria deported to Iran despite promising not to, and despite resettlement places already having been secured abroad for them. The Syrian regime, which is allied to Iran, lied to the UN that the four were in custody after they had been forcibly removed to Tehran.

The British Ahwazi Frienship Society (BAFS) has learned that the prominent Ahwazi dissident Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri, a refugee who obtained Dutch nationality, is being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, which operates as a torture centre run by the Ministry of the Interior. He had fled Iran after being sentenced to death in 1989 for his activities.

Redmond appealed to Iranian authorities "to ensure the well-being of the four and allow for a fair trial and the right to due process."

"Extradition does not mean that a refugee or asylum seeker loses his or her international protection status," he added. "UNHCR also appeals for access to the four refugees and we are prepared to find alternative solutions for them."

In a statement released to the media, the UNHCR calls on Syria to abide by its obligations under international law and to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is recognised. According to Article 34 of the Syrian Constitution, the deportation of refugees to countries where they will face persecution should be prevented. Moreover, non-refoulement is a principle of customary international law which prohibits states from returning a refugee or asylum seeker to territories where there is a risk that his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. This principle has precedence over any bilateral or multilateral extradition agreement.

Amnesty International has been among those who have accused the Syrian regime of defying international law with the illegal deportation of Ahwazi refugees.
Iran names three executed Ahwazis

Iran names three executed Ahwazis

The Iranian regime has named the three men it executed on Tuesday. They are: Ali Matouri Zadeh (pictured on left), Malek Bani Tamim (centre) and Alireza Asakre (right). The regime has prevented relatives of the men from burying them in accordance with Islamic custom and is instead burying them in a mass, unmarked grave site called Lanat Abad or "place of the damned" (click here for details).

The death sentences against 11 men, including the three executed on Tuesday, were condemned in a unanimous vote by the European Parliament as well as an Early Day Motion in the British Parliament (click here for details).

Ali Matouri Zadeh, 30, had been forced to confess to heading an insurgent group after months of torture and threats to the lives of his wife and baby daughter, who were also imprisoned by the regime. He had been a founding member of the Lejnat Al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), which attempted to advance Ahwazi Arab minority rights through constitutional and legal means. It was set up in 1999 and participated in elections. However, in the last parliamentary elections in 2004, conservatives in the regime barred candidates nominated by Lajnat Al-Wefagh. The group was dismantled, closing down legal possibilities for demands for Ahwazi rights. In November, it was outlawed for allegedly stirring up communalism against the regime - a claim that is without foundation.

Matouri Zadeh is described by friends as a gentle and principled human rights activist. He was arrested in February along with his pregnant wife, 26 year old school teacher Fahima Ismaili Badawi (pictured). She gave birth to a baby girl named Salma in the notorious Sepidar Prison in March. Both mother and daughter have remained in prison, with intelligence officials putting pressure on Fahima to denounce her husband, divorce him and change the girl's name to a Persian one. She refused and was sentenced in June to 15 years imprisonment by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary court in Ahwaz City.

Amnesty International has suggested the mother and daughter were held to pressure Matouri Zadeh to confess to participating in bomb attacks (click here for latest report). Matouri Zadeh's "confession" was probably intended to save his wife and daughter's lives, but has also vindicated the regime's violent clamp-down on Ahwazi Arab reformist groups such as Wefaq.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "These men were innocent. The European Parliament, members of the British parliament and international human rights organisations agree that they were not granted a fair trial. The charges against them were false, they were denied access to lawyers and their trials were held in secret revolutionary courts. Despite all evidence that this was a miscarriage of justice, the regime went ahead and killed three innocent Ahwazi men with a further 11 men set to be executed in coming days and weeks.

"The executions are intended to intimidate, terrorise and collectively punish Ahwazi Arabs for daring to speak up against the regime's ethnic cleansing programme in the Ahwazi homeland. This programme of ethnic restructuring involves forced relocation, land confiscation, the elimination of local Arab language and heritage and institutionalised racial discrimination. The regime wants the resources of the Ahwazi homeland and is deliberately impoverishing them and denying them their birthright.

"We call on the international community - particularly the Arab League - to impose direct sanctions on Iran's religious and political elites, including the freezing of financial assets that are held in offshore bank accounts and are used finance terrorism. The wealth of the mullahs comes from the oil-rich and fertile land stolen from the Ahwazi Arabs. They must be denied access to profits made from the slaughter, persecution and impoverishment of Ahwazi Arabs."
Iran begins mass execution of Ahwazis, defying world opinion

Iran begins mass execution of Ahwazis, defying world opinion

The Iranian regime has defied the UN General Assembly, the European Parliament and Iranian and international human rights organisations and has begun its campaign of mass executions of Ahwazi Arab opposition activists.

The Khuzestan branch of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) has reported that three Ahwazi Arabs have been executed for "waging war on God" (click here for ISNA article). ISNA did not name the men and it is believed that the executions were carried out in prison. A further 11 Ahwazis are awaiting execution following trials that were condemned by the European Parliament in a unanimous resolution in November (click here for details) as well as 48 British MPs who signed an Early Day Motion (click here to download the EDM).

The regime broadcast videos of forced confessions of 11 Ahwazi Arabs on Khuzestan TV in early November (click here for more information), but delayed the executions due to international outrage and municipal elections. Today's execution of the three men comes just two days after the results of the Ahwaz municipal and Assembly of Experts elections, which were affected by a mass boycott and the defeat of pro-Ahmadinejad supporters.

The men were convicted following one-day trials in closed sessions of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, with little or no access to lawyers and after being tortured into giving confessions. In some cases, family members were held in custody to put pressure on the men to confess.

Ali Matourizadeh, a founding member of the Lejnat Al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), an Arab group that won control of Ahwaz City Council in the 2003 municipal elections but has subsequently been banned, was among those sentenced to hang. His wife was taken into custody when eight months pregnant and gave birth to a girl called Salma while in prison in March. She was instructed by the regime to denounce and divorce her husband and change the baby's name to a Persian name, but she refused the regime's demands. Both mother and daughter remain in prison.
Crushing defeat for Ahmadinejad in Ahwaz

Crushing defeat for Ahmadinejad in Ahwaz

Ahwazi Arabs delivered a crushing blow to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received in the elections for the Assembly of Experts and municipal authorities as well as by-elections for the Majlis.

Writing in the Elaph newspaper, the Tehran-based Ahwazi journalist Youssef Azizi Bani Torouf wrote that 60 per cent of eligible voters boycotted the elections in the Arab majority province of Khuzestan, where over 170 Arab candidates were barred from standing. Despite this, anti-Ahmadinejad independent "reformists" achieved a complete landslide.

The popular rejection of Ahmadinejad comes after months of mass arrests and executions of Ahwazi political activists and the outlawing of the Lejnat Al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), an Arab group that had won all but one seat on the Ahwaz City Council in 2003. This year's elections saw Ahmadinejad supporters win just two seats on the council, despite violent intimidation; over 25,000 political activists have been arrested and hundreds have been killed or 'disappeared' since the April 2005 Ahwazi Arab intifada (uprising) against the regime.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The largest vote was the boycott vote, with an absolute majority of Ahwazis rejecting the entire political system. Those elected to office have no mandate to govern when the majority of voters boycotted the elections. Unless Ahwazi Arabs are allowed to form their own parties to contest free and fair elections, they have the right to reject the political system and sabotage the instruments of their oppression.

"Ahmadinejad is so unpopular in Ahwaz that his supporters cannot achieve any respectable vote despite state violence and ballot stuffing. Ahwazi voters completely rejected him in last year's presidential election and anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment has hardened since he came to office. Ahmadinejad has not even dared to step into the city because he is not welcome."
Turkmen-Iran Free Trade Zone Withers

Turkmen-Iran Free Trade Zone Withers

This article has been submitted for publication on the BAFS website by Muhammad Tahir based in Aq Qala, northern Iran. He is a Prague-based journalist specializing in Afghan, Iranian and Central Asian affairs and is author of "Illegal Dating-a journey into the private life of Iran".

Amangeldi sits cross-legged in his shop, surrounded by heavy silver jewelry and handmade carpets, sipping green tea pondering the future of his failing business.

He was one of the first merchants to set up shop when Iran launched a special economic zone here in Inche Borun, a town in northeast Iran right on the border with Turkmenistan. He was drawn by the prospect of easy access to traditional handicrafts from Turkmenistan, and thought he would find a ready market in what was promised as a flourishing duty-free zone visited by people on both sides of the border.

It should have worked. The people in this part of Iran are mostly ethnic Turkmen, who would welcome contact with their kin across the border, which was hermetically sealed until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Inche Borun lies on the main route into Turkmenistan from Gunbad-e-Kavus, the major town in this part of Iran.

"We had very good contacts with our Turkmen brothers over the border. They used to come to this bazaar to sell their handicrafts and buy staple goods," said Amangeldi, 32. "It was beneficial to both communities - on one side [Iran] it helped reduce unemployment, while for the people on the other side, it was the nearest place to come and get basic goods, as the major towns in Turkmenistan are a long way away."

The idea was driven by Iranian officials in a bid to boost border trade and create employment. Initial success after the special zone was launched in 1997 led them to expand the number of shops to around 250, although local Iranian officials say Turkmenistan never delivered on its promises to invest in the project.

Nearly ten years on, the plan has failed due to lack of support from both governments, neither of which has proved keen on freedom of movement in a sensitive border area. Turkmenistan has enforced strict border controls, most directed at its own citizens, which have effectively strangled trade.

Iranian statistics show that fewer than 1,800 people crossed the border at Inche Borun in the first eight months of 2006.

Seven out of ten businesses in the Inche Borun's duty-free market have closed, so that just 40 of the 137 original shops in the bazaar are still functioning. The market opens only on Fridays instead of daily, and the only customers are Iranian nationals, plus the occasional long-distance truck driver heading north into Turkmenistan.

Amangeldi thinks he will be joining the exodus of traders soon.

"I don't know what went wrong on the Turkmen side - they started implementing such strict policies on crossing the border," he said.

Oraz Muhammad, who has just closed the shop he had in the bazaar, explained that ethnic Turkmen from Iran are allowed to travel into Turkmenistan within a 45-kilometre radius of the Inche Borun crossing point. But he said this was not enough, since they would need to travel further to be able to visit major commercial centres. Nor do Turkmenistan's border officials allow the traders to bring bulk consignments of goods out of the country.

Other merchants complained that their own government had failed to sustain the duty-free zone, and water and electricity supplies remained erratic.

A more serious gripe voiced by many was that the Iranian government had failed to pressure Turkmenistan to ease the border controls.

Many see political factors behind the failure of Tehran and Ashgabat to support the scheme over the longer term.

Politically, Iran and Turkmenistan are a world apart - one a Shia theocracy, the other a secular post-Soviet state dominated by the personality cult surrounding idiosynchratic president Saparmurat Niazov. But both governments have made great efforts to get on since Turkmenistan emerged as an independent country.

Their cooperation is pragmatic and focuses on economic links across their long border. In addition, both countries have cool relationships with other neighbours and the wider international community, so they have an interest in remaining on good terms. Because of this, the election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as Iran's president in place of the reformer Mohammad Khatami has not substantially affected the relationship with Turkmenistan.

One local analyst in Gunbad-e-Kavus, who did not want to be named, attributed the decline in official support for the Inche Borun market to a change in personalities at the top in Iran the year the project was launched.

"This was an entirely political project rather than a social or economic one, because the Iranian president at that time [Ayatollah Akbar] Hashemi Rafsanjani was a close friend of President Niazov," he said. "So after Rafsanjani lost the presidential election [to Khatami] in August 1997, the Iranian-Turkmenistan relationship never regained its former warmth."

Other analysts, such as Aziz Ismailzade, an Iranian Turkmen who now lives abroad, say both governments are paranoid about letting any of their citizens travel freely.

"Their reluctance stems from the same reason - the fear factor. Neither [government] wishes to allow its people unfiltered access to outsiders," he said,

Thus, restricting border traffic may have less to do with bilateral relations than with the external pressures both governments are facing over human rights and other concerns.

"Just as pressure on Niazov's regime has increased in recent years, international pressure on Iran is also at a high level because of its nuclear ambitions," said Ismailzade. "This has led both countries to impose unprecedented restrictions on population movement."

Tehran keeps a close eye on its own ethnic Turkmen community, as it does with other minorities on its periphery such as the Azeris and Kurds, for any sign of separatist ambitions. Niazov's nation-building exercise is all about Turkmen identity - but he has taken care not to irritate Tehran by stirring up nationalist sentiment among the Iranian Turkmen.

Burhan Karadaghi, an Iranian historian based in Germany, believes both governments may have concluded that keeping these border communities at a distance from each other may be best for everyone.

"Neither Niazov nor Ahmedinejad is in favour of letting these [Turkmen] people stay in touch. Niazov would feel insecure if the border was wide open, while the Iranian regime would be unhappy if its own own ethnic minority was in contact with kinsmen outside the country," he said.
Ahwaz elections: Iran's intimidation, repression and racism

Ahwaz elections: Iran's intimidation, repression and racism

Ahwazi Arabs have staged a mass boycott of the elections to the Ahwaz municipal council and the Assembly of Experts amid accusations of electoral fraud, intimidation and political repression.

Writing in the Arabic media, leading Ahwazi journalist Youssef Azizi Bani Torouf has highlighted the regime's ban on Arab candidates, with members of the Ahwaz council prevented from seeking re-election.

In the 2003 elections to the council, all but one of the winning candidates were supported by the Lejnat Al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee) which advocated Arab minority rights on the basis of the equal rights enshrined in the Iranian Constitution. The elections were widely praised for being free, fair and transparent. Since then, the party has been outlawed and Wefaq members have been imprisoned, with leading members such as Ali Matouri Zadeh now facing execution.

In this year's elections, the regime has blocked over 170 Ahwazi Arabs from running for election to the Ahwaz municipal council following a racist vetting procedure conducted by the regime. While Ahwaz City is 70 per cent Arab, the vast majority of candidates allowed to stand for election are non-Arabs, including hardliners from the Revolutionary Guards which has conducted ethnic cleansing programmes in the province.

In the run-up to the polls, the regime conducted mass arrests of Ahwazi Arabs and fired on crowds of demonstrators with live ammunition (click here for further details). The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation reports that three Ahwazis arrested by the security services during recent demonstrations - Hassan Mola Niassi (31), Jassim Nadhan Niassi (30) and Nasseri Ramadan (26) - are being tortured in custody.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "These elections have been marred by state violence, intimidation and electoral fraud. The bar on Arab council members from seeking re-election in order to elect hardline non-Arab outsiders is yet more proof of violent institutional anti-Arab racism in Iran.

"The elections violate the spirit of Iran's constitution, particularly Articles 15, 19 and 20 which guarantee equal rights for ethnic minorities. If the government is violating the constitution, then the government has no mandate to govern and no authority over the Ahwazi Arabs.

"Ahwazis have the right to disrupt peacefully all the activities of illegitimate municipal authorities and sabotage the instruments of their oppression. We urge Ahwazi Arabs to adopt civil disobedience tactics to overthrow the new Ahwaz City Council, whoever is declared the winner."

Iran/Syria: Ahwazis in fear after news of deportation and deaths

The following report was published by IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service - click here for the original article

Ethnic Arab (Ahwazi) refugees from Iran now living in Damascus have expressed fear as news emerged that Syria has deported three more Ahwazi activists to Iran, where they face torture and execution.

Three Ahwazi activists, thought to be imprisoned in Damascus since their arrest in April, were deported to Iran in May, Sima Watling of Amnesty International's East Gulf team told IRIN on 6 December.

Watling said relatives of two of the men, Rasool Mazra - whose family has resettled in Norway - and Taher Mazra - whose family was prevented from leaving Syria for Sweden in October - had received telephone calls from the men to say they were being held in Karoun Prison, in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.

On 7 December, a source who spoke directly to the family of Taher Mazra told IRIN that Taher Mazra was, indeed, forcibly returned from Syria to Iran in May. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rasool Mazra had also called his family in Khuzestan to say he was imprisoned and was facing imminent execution.

Both men had been recognised as refugees by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Laurens Jolles, acting head of the UNHCR in Damascus, said that despite numerous requests, the agency had been unable to obtain information about the status of the Ahwazis arrested in Syria.

"Syria is aware that its own constitution prevents the deportation of refugees to countries where they will face persecution, as do international laws," he said.

Both men are members of the Ahwazi Liberation Organization (ALO), the Ahwazis' leading political opposition movement, and according to their families they had been tortured since their recent captivity in Iran.

The third Ahwazi, Jamal Obaidy, Chair of Ahwazi Student Union in Syria, is also believed to have been deported to Iran, though no contact has been made with his family. Neither Iran nor Syria have confirmed or denied any of the three returns.

The UNHCR in Damascus is currently unable to confirm that Rasool Mazra, Jamal Obaidy and Taher Mazra have been deported from Syria to Iran.

The news followed two similar cases of deportation.

Faleh Abdullah Mansuri, the 60-year-old head of the ALO who holds Dutch citizenship, was also arrested by Syrian security in April while he was visiting an Ahwazi friend in Damascus.

Syrian authorities confirmed earlier this year that Mansuri, also a UNHCR recognised refugee, was deported to Tehran in May at the request of Iran, just a few weeks before the two countries signed a landmark agreement on military and security cooperation.

Mansuri is now reportedly in prison in Tehran, facing a sentence of death by hanging imposed on him in 1988 by a military court, apparently in connection with his activities as a member of the ALO.

Saeed Saki, also a member of the ALO and a UNHCR refugee, had been due to be resettled in Norway when he was arrested and extradited to Tehran. Only high-level intervention from international officials prevented his execution, and he remains imprisoned in Iran.

Since an uprising by Ahwazis in April 2005 - a two-month campaign of civil unrest that culminated in a bomb attack on an oil installation east of Ahvaz - Iran has intensified its campaign against the Ahwazis, detaining more than 25,000, executing at least 131 while more than 150 have disappeared, according to the US-based Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation.

Amnesty International report that following the uprising hundreds of Khuzestan's Arabs were arrested, some were reportedly tortured, and at least two men were executed following unfair trials.

A source at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that any prisoners of conscience had been extradited from Syria to Iran.

"There is an agreement between Syria and Iran that any Iranian who has been jailed in Syria for a crime can be transferred to complete his sentence in Iran," he said. "But no prisoners of conscience have been handed over to Iran by Syria."

Ahwazi refugees first began arriving in Iraq and Syria in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war as Tehran accused them of supporting Baghdad.

The past two years has seen concern rising about the deteriorating human rights situation in Khuzestan where activists estimate some 1.5 million Arabs have been driven off their land by a series of vast state-sponsored industrial projects, coupled to massive organised influxes of Persian workers and their families.

According to human rights organisations, individuals promoting Arab rights in Khuzestan have been targeted, and access to the region has been denied to foreign and local journalists.

Al-Mansouri to receive "open trial" in Iran

This report is based on an article by Danya Chaikel, a Maastricht resident, in the on-line Crossroads magazine.

Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot has received assurances from his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, currently on a visit in the Netherlands, that Ahwazi dissident and Dutch citizen Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (pictured with the mayor of Maastricht) is still alive in Iran and that he will get an open trial.

Al-Mansouri, a UNHCR registered refugee and leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO), was abducted by Syrian authorities while on a visit to Damascus in May and illegally deported to Iran, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions on Refugees. He is currently being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of the Intelligence and where opposition activists are tortured by interrogators.

An open trial will mean that representatives of the Dutch embassy or consulate will be allowed in court. Mottari added that Al-Mansouri's family would be allowed to visit him in Iran. He did not however give any information about the visa application submitted by Al-Mansouri's Dutch lawyer Gerard Spong. Iran does not recognise Al-Mansouri's Dutch nationality.
According to Dagblad De Limburger, Amnesty International Maastricht spokesperson Sigrid Haenen comments that the human rights group is caustiously optimistic about this latest development, but that it will advise Al-Mansouri's family not to accept Iran's offer (click here for report). Al-Mansouri's son believes that his father's lawyer Gerard Spong would be more helpful to him at this point in Iran than his direct family (click here for more information).
Dagblad De Limburger further reports that Amnesty International Maastricht hopes that the city will send an official representative - "preferably Gerd Leers himself" - to Iran in order to ensure that Al-Mansouri, who is charged by Iranian authorities for "terrorist activities", receives a fair trial.
Al-Mansouri was a former high-ranking officer in the Iranian military who rebelled against the Islamic Republic during the Iran-Iraq War. He was sentenced to death by an Iranian military court in 1988, but escaped from custody and fled to Baghdad. He, his wife and four children were relocated to the Netherlands by the UNHCR in 1989 and later acquired Dutch citizenship.
It is unclear whether the Dutch government has accepted the methods by which Al-Mansouri was abducted and transferred to Iran or whether it is making representations to move the dissident from Section 209. The Iranian government has not given any assurance of open trials for four other Ahwazi refugees abducted from Damascus and it is unclear whether the Dutch government is pursuing these cases. The UNHCR has issued complaints on behalf of all five men.
The Iranian regime has tried other Ahwazi dissidents in one-day trials revolutionary courts, which have been held in closed sessions with defendents denied access to lawyers. Fifteen Ahwazi Arabs are currently facing execution. The trials and death penalties have been condemned by the European parliament, the UN General Assembly and an Early Day Motion signed by 47 British members of parliament.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Condemns Iran's Execution of Ahwazis

Intelligence Committee Chairman Condemns Iran's Execution of Ahwazis

The Chair of the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, Paul Murphy, has signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) condemning Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. Mr Murphy, a former government minister, heads the powerful parliamentary committee which oversees the administration and policies of the MI6, MI5 and GCHQ.

The EDM, which is a non-binding declaration by the legislature, was drafted by Labour MP Chris Bryant and has so far attracted the support of 47 MPs from across the political spectrum. Leading members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs have also backed the EDM, including Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell.

The EDM states that "this House notes the long-running persecution of the Ahwazi Arabs" by the Iranian regime and condemns the planned execution of 10 Ahwazi Arabs. It "supports Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in their complaints that Iranian justice has meant that many Ahwazi Arab defendants have had no opportunity to meet their lawyers before their case has begun, have had one-day trials in secret with no witnesses and have had false confessions extracted through torture; and calls on the Iranian Government to respect the human rights of all its peoples and to commute the death penalty in these cases."

Commenting on the victimisation of Iran's Arab minority, Mr Bryant said: "Iran's human rights record is pretty grisly on a wide range of issues, but the Ahwazi Arabs have suffered more than most from the authorities in Tehran.

"Of course Britain should try to have a good relationship with Iran, but it must be on the basis of an honest criticism of their human rights abuses.

"The widespread use of torture to extract so-called confessions, the refusal to allow defendants to have proper consultations with their lawyers before a trial begins, and the fact that many trials last less than a day and have no witnesses, means that many of these convictions would be considered completely unsound in any civilised country.

"I very much hope that the UK and the European Union will call on Iran to commute the death sentences," said Mr Bryant.

John McDonnell told the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS): "We all have a responsibility to stand up to protect the human rights and security of all those who are at risk. It is for this reason that I join many elected representatives drawn from across the world in calling for the rights of Ahwazi Arabs to be respected and for a halt to the threatened executions."

The EDM follows a successful move by British Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to secure unanimous cross-party condemnation in the European Parliament of the planned execution of the 11 Ahwazi activists on 16 November. This was followed on 21 November by a Canadian sponsored UN General Assembly resolution that condemned Iran's "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities" and its "persistent failure in Iran to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice - including the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel by detainees."

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British Anti-War MPs condemn Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs - 5 December
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Swedish MPs appeal to Ahmadinejad over executions - 19 November
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Senior European Parliamentarian condemns Iran's ethnic cleansing - 14 November
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Iran accuses Canada of spying after UN vote

Iran accuses Canada of spying after UN vote

The Iranian regime is seeking retribution for the UN General Assembly's condemnation of its atrocious human rights record (click here for more information) and has launched an astonishing attack on the Canadian government, which sponsored the UN resolution.

The regime has accused the Canadian embassy in Tehran of espionage and has threatened to close down the diplomatic mission. It also tabled a resolution condemning Canada over its treatment of aboriginals and immigrants, which was rejected by a margin of 170-6. Iran only managed to muster the support of some of the world's most notorious human rights abusers - Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Burma and Belarus - indicating its increasingly isolated status. Even its new-found ally Venezuela refused to back the Iranian position.

In an interview with the BBC's Persian Service, Canadian Foreign Office spokesman Rodney Moore claimed that the espionage claims and the attacks on Canada's human rights record were baseless. He said the Iranian claims were retaliation for international condemnation of Iran's treatment of women and ethnic and religious minorities as well as poor standards of justice (click here for the BBC interview). Canada's relations with Iran have been strained since a Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, was tortured to death in Iran's notorious Evin Prison in 2003.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "Ahwazi Arabs and other ethnic groups in Iran can only dream of having the political autonomy and cultural freedom Canada's Innuit enjoy. Canadian federalism is a model for a diverse multi-ethnic society like Iran. It is therefore ironic that Iran is condemning Canada for its treatment of minorities, given Iran's record of systematic abuse of Ahwazi Arabs and other non-Persian ethnic groups which at times has led to ethnic cleansing, particularly in Al-Ahwaz and Balochistan."
British Foreign Minister condemns Iran's treatment of Ahwazis facing execution

British Foreign Minister condemns Iran's treatment of Ahwazis facing execution

British Foreign Minister Kim Howells has voiced his opposition to the planned execution of Ahwazi Arabs, who were convicted of "waging war on God" in Iran's secret revolutionary court in Ahwaz City (click here for his full response).

In a reply to a written question by Conservative MP Graham Stuart, Mr Howells, Minister of State with responsibility for the Middle East portfolio, said that the UK government had "closely monitored" the cases of 11 men facing execution. He said: "We oppose and condemn the death penalty in all its forms. In this case, we have specific concerns about the conduct of the trial including whether it was held secretly behind closed doors; whether a jury was present; and whether the defendants had adequate access to lawyers before the trial.

"The presidency of the EU raised our concerns about this case with the Director General of the International Department of the Judiciary on 20 November and highlighted the EU's longstanding objection to the death penalty in all its forms. We will continue to monitor this case closely with EU colleagues."

Mr Howells' condemnation coincides with an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons condemning the trials and executions (click here for more information). The EDM was drafted by Labour MP Chris Bryant and supported by MPs across the political spectrum, from Jeremy Corbyn on the left to Michael Gove on the right. It follows a successful move by British Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to secure unanimous cross-party condemnation in the European Parliament of the planned execution of the 11 Ahwazi activists on 16 November (click here for further details). On 21 November the UN General Assembly approved a Canadian-sponsored motion condemning Iran's "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities" and its "persistent failure in Iran to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice - including the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel by detainees." (click here for further information)

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Ten Ahwazi Arabs to hang in public - 11 November
Psychologist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment - 18 October
"27 Ahwazi dissidents in custody" - Emadeddin Baghi - 9 September
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 July
Iran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January
Iran: human rights organisations launch on-line appeal

Iran: human rights organisations launch on-line appeal

Below is a joint appeal to the global human rights community by the Human Rights Activists in Iran (H.R.A.I), the Committee Defense for Human Rights in north-west of Iran (H.RN.W.I), the Kurdish Human Rights defense organization (R.M.M.K) and the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (A.H.R.O) concerning the situation of the Evin Prison in Iran. Click here to sign the petition.

To: The Secretary General of the United Nations, The UN Human Rights Council , Amnesty International, Human Rights watch

An appeal to all Human Right Organizations of the World

Section 209 of Evin Prison in Iran is run by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic and except for the ministry agents no other government bodies have any control over the prison affairs.

During the last years many of Iran political prisoners have died in this Section under torture and many others kept in it have ended up being executed by firing squads or hanged. At this moment of time hundreds of similar prisoners are kept in this Section and the Ministry of Intelligence would not allow their names to be added to the long list of Iran political prisoners.

Most of these prisoners are held in solitary confinement and are constantly interrogated while under physical and psychological torture. The families of these prisoners very rarely have any information about the health or conditions of their loved ones, who are most of the time handcuffed and blindfolded, are denied of medical care and legal representation and do not even know on what charges they have been arrested. In Section 209 of Evin Prison even the very own repressive rules of the regime are not followed.

Those currently held at the Section include political dissidents, human rights activists, students, trade union officials and workers, as well as many other Iranians from all walks of life.

The following people are among the prisoners at Section 209:

Ali Akbar Mussavi Khoini, Dr. Saeed Masoori, Ahmad Batebi, Kayvan Rafii, Kianoosh Sanjari, Dr. Kayvan Ansari, Abulfazl Jahandar, Kheirullah Derakhshandi, Abdullah Al Mansouri, Ayatollah Kazemi Boroujerdi and many of his followers, as well as many prisoners from other provinces of Iran who have been transferred to Evin from their local prisons.

We, the undersigned, would therefore urge the Secretary General of the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to assign a special investigating committee to visit Section 209 of Evin Prison in Iran and publish a report on their findings.

1- Human Rights Activists in Iran (H.R.A.I)
2- Committee Defence for Human Rights in North-West of Iran (H.R.N.W.I)
3- Kurdish Human Rights defence organization (R.M.M.K)
4- Ahwazi Human Rights organization (A.H.R.O)
Iran Majlis Speaker misrepresents Ahwazi uprising

Iran Majlis Speaker misrepresents Ahwazi uprising

Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel has made a major gaffe in his accusation that the "enemies of Islam" are attempting to set Shi'ites and Sunnis against each other in Ahwaz.

According to the official Fars News Agency, Haddad Adel said: "Enemies of Islam intend to exercise the same policy and sow discord between the Shiites and Sunnites in a number of border provinces, such as Sistan and Balouchestan, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, etc. in a bid to hinder materialization of the goals of the Islamic Revolution and prevent our revolution from setting a paradigm for other countries." (click here to read report)

Khuzestan province has seen an upsurge in unrest over the past 18 months, with the local Arab population rebelling against racial discrimination, land confiscation programmes and political oppression.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Haddad Adel's comments are sheer nonsense. He is deliberately trying to misrepresent the Ahwazi uprising as evidence of foreign attempts to divide Shia and Sunni. Up to 70 per cent of Khuzestan's population is Arab, but 80 per cent of Arabs are Shi'ite. Arab protestors have used Islamic festivals to launch mass demonstrations against the regime, but their campaign is not against Shi'ism but against the regime's anti-Arab racism. Haddad Adel is inventing conspiracy theories for the regime's ignorant sympathisers abroad, but anyone with any understanding on this region knows that there is not one hint of religious communalism in the uprising nor is any foreign government involved in instigating the rebellion."
Iran: Executions of 11 Ahwazis Delayed

Iran: Executions of 11 Ahwazis Delayed

Iran appears to have delayed the execution of 11 Ahwazi Arabs, whose forced confessions were shown on Khuzestan TV last week.

The 11 men are:
1. Ali Mutairi from Mashour (Mahshahr)
2. Khalaf Khazeiri from Falahiyah (Shadegan)
3. Mohamad Chaab Pour from Tostar (Shoushtar)
4. Abdullah Farajulaah Chab from Tostar (Shoushtar)
5. Abdullah Solimani from Tostar (Shoushtar)
6. Majed Albu Ghubaish from Mashour (Mahshahr)
7. Ali Reza Asakre from Falahiyah (Shadegan)
8. Ghasem Salamat from Ahwaz City
9. Abdul Reza Sanawati from Ahwaz City
10. Saeed Hemidan from Khalafiyah (Ramshir)
11. Malek Banitamim from Tostar (Shoushtar)

They were all convicted of threatening national security and "waging war on God" after one-day closed trials in which they had little or no access to lawyers. They are widely believed to have been framed for bomb attacks on oil pipelines in 2005 - had been in prison since 2000 - which the regime has blamed on the obscure dissident group, the Mohi-eldain Al-Nasir Martyrs Brigade.

The executions were due to take place on 14 November, but foreign governments have lobbied intensively to save the men's lives. On 16 November, the European Parliament voted unanimously to condemn the executions and on 21 November the UN General Assembly condemned Iran's justice system and the continued persecution of ethnic minority groups (click here for details).

The delay in executions is unofficial and the death sentences have not been commuted. It is thought that the executions will be carried out after Bashar Assad's visit to Tehran this weekend, in order to prevent embarrassment for the Syrian leader whose Ba'athist government was founded on the principles of pan-Arab unity.

Related stories::
UN General Assembly Criticises Iran's Discrimination of Minorities - 23 November
Ahwazis and Balochis demonstrate against Iran regime - 19 November
Swedish MPs appeal to Ahmadinejad over executions - 19 November
UNPO Continues Appeal to Halt Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran - 19 November
Iran sentences three more Ahwazis to death - 18 November
European Parliament condemns Iran over Ahwazi executions - 16 November
"The barbaric deaths meant to spread fear" - Daily Mail - 16 November
Balochis and Azeris rally against Iran's executions - 16 November
Iran: Flawed trials and injustice - 15 November
Ahwazi men "confess" to belonging to obscure militant group - 15 November
UNPO Call to Stop Public Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran - 14 November
Senior European Parliamentarian condemns Iran's ethnic cleansing - 14 November
Eleventh Ahwazi added to the list of those facing execution - 14 November
"Iran is guilty of ethnic cleansing" - Green MEPs - 14 November
Iran regime shows forced "confessions" on Khuzestan TV - 13 November
Mass executions of Ahwazis threaten Middle East security - 12 November
Ten Ahwazi Arabs to hang in public - 11 November
Psychologist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment - 18 October
"27 Ahwazi dissidents in custody" - Emadeddin Baghi - 9 September
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 July
Iran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January
Syria sends more Ahwazi Arab refugees to their death

Syria sends more Ahwazi Arab refugees to their death

The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) has denounced the deportation of another group of Ahwazi citizens living in Syria to Iran in a press released issued this week (click here to download).

Human rights organisations and the UNHCR have received credible reports that Syria deported three more UNHCR-registered refugees in addition to Saeed Saki and Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (a Dutch national): Taher Mazrae, Rasool Ali Mazrae and Jamal Obaidawi (pictured).

An SHRC media spokesman claimed that Syria have breached its obligations under human rights conventions that commit it to protect recognised refugees. Syria had agreed to host the refugees and permit them to carry out their political activities. The SHRC spokesman called on the Syrian authorities to cease breaking its human rights obligations and to use their influence on Iran to release the Ahwazi detainees.

Amnesty International has previously condemned the deportation of Ahwazi Arab refugees as a violation of international law.

Currently, 11 Ahwazi Arabs are awaiting execution in Iran. Last week, four more Ahwazis - Risan Sawari, Aqil Sawari, Mohammad Ali Sawari and Jafar Sawari - were sentenced to death.

Related stories:
Iran/Netherlands: Dutch Ahwazi activist in Evin prison torture chamber - 19 October
UNHCR deeply concerned about Ahwazi refugees in Syria - 16 September
UNPO: "Iran Must End Repression against Minority Groups" - 15 August
"Syria has violated international law" - Amnesty International - 11 August
Ahwazi Arabs unite against Syrian "treachery" - 11 August
Netherlands abandons Dutch Ahwazi activist - 11 August
Syria deports Ahwazis to Iran, including Dutch national - 9 August
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 July
UNPO highlights plight of Ahwazis on International Refugee Day - 20 June
UNHCR calls on Syria not to extradite Ahwazi refugees - 6 June
Syria releases three Ahwazis, but four remain in custody - 19 May
Kuwaiti newspaper publishes call for an end to Syria's anti-Ahwazi policy - 18 May
Syria's deportation scandal - 16 May
Lebanese democrats support Ahwazis - 16 May
Ahwazi Arabs arrested in Syria on Iran's request - 13 May
More arrests of Ahwazi Arabs in Syria - 15 May
Ahwazis arrested in Syria - 1 May
UN General Assembly Criticises Iran's Discrimination of Minorities

UN General Assembly Criticises Iran's Discrimination of Minorities

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution proposed by the Canadian government which criticised Iran's appalling human rights record and its treatment of ethnic minorities (click here for details).

The motion (A/C.3/61/L.41), which received the support of 70 governments on Tuesday, expressed "serious concern at the continuing harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, political opponents, religious dissenters, webloggers and union members, among others." It comes just days after the European Parliament gave a damning indictment of the regime's human rights record, highlighting the planned execution of 11 Ahwazi Arab political activists.

The General Assembly also voiced "serious concern at a persistent failure in Iran to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice – including the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel by detainees."

The motion also highlights "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities" and calls on Iran to eliminate discrimination based on religious, ethnic or linguistic grounds. Women's rights and political freedoms were also under attack, according to the UN. The General Assembly encouraged the UN Human Rights Council and various Special Rapporteurs to pursue their work regarding Iran, and for the Assembly to continue its examination of the situation at its sixty-second session.

The Iranian regime reacted angrily to the international community's condemnation of its human rights record, with its representative calling the motion "another politically motivated exercise pursued by the Government of Canada to serve its narrow political purposes and interests," although he did not identify what those interests were. Rather than address the General Assembly's concerns, the Iranian representative alleged that Canada had "a questionable human rights record, particularly concerning indigenous peoples." He added that "the draft consisted of baseless accusations and unfounded claims, and the situation it described in Iran was predicated on the sponsor's illusions and fantasies." Signalling the regime's defiance, Iran's UN representative claimed that criticism of the country's human rights violations "could diminish prospects for cooperation and understanding on human rights."

Countries supporting the resolution included all the members of the European Union. North Korea, Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan voted with Iran against the motion.

Meanwhile, British Members of the European Parliament have also called on UN Secretary General to intervene against the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs (click here for details).
Iran imposes internet blackout on Ahwazi sites

Iran imposes internet blackout on Ahwazi sites

The Iranian regime has imposed a complete block on all Ahwazi websites ahead of its planned execution of Arab activists.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "The regime is panicking in the face of international opposition to the unjust executions. The European Parliament has unanimously condemned the executions and there is a renewed focus on Iran's ethnic cleansing policies. In the UK, there have been top level meetings on the executions, with Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague stepping up the pressure for a European response while politicians from the Labour and Green parties have launched an intensive lobbying effort with the European Commission and the United Nations.

"A block on websites is designed to control the flow of information. The regime does not want Iranians to hear that it is facing heavy criticism from international bodies over its treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. It could be trying to suppress information to limit the level of unrest that will follow the executions. Alternatively, it could be preparing for a climb-down on the executions and does not want Iranians to perceive this as a retreat. We don't mind a block on our website if this means that the regime changes its policies and halts the mass executions."

The execution of 11 men was expected on Tuesday after "confessions" - following months of torture and intimidation of the families of the accused - were broadcast on Khuzestan TV. However, lobbying efforts appear to have led to an unofficial delay, although the Mehr News Agency has indicated that the executions could go ahead tomorrow (Monday).
Ahwazis and Balochis demonstrate against Iran regime

Ahwazis and Balochis demonstrate against Iran regime



Scores of Ahwazi Arab and Balochi activists gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London on Saturday to protest against the regime's racist policies and campaign of executions against ethnic minorities. The protest was organised by the Ahwaz Community Association of the UK and supported by a range of Ahwazi and Balochi organisations.



Photographs of 11 Ahwazi Arabs facing imminent execution were displayed along with the names of over 100 Ahwazi opposition activists recently killed by the regime.





Balochi and Ahwazi activists gave speeches at the demonstration. Rahim Bandoui, a spokesman for the Balochistan Peoples Party, said: "Today we have gathered here to protest and oppose the injustices of the barbaric regime of Iran against the prosecution and killing of our people who are rising and demanding their humanistic and national democratic rights. While everybody is suffering from not having their basic human rights observed, [...] unfortunately our Arabs, Baloch, Kurds, Azeri Turks and Turkmen are facing additional suffering, just for not having the same language, culture and even the same religion of the ruling elite. So far for nearly a century, all types of the ruling elites of Pan-Farsisms, crowned and turbaned, have consistently, constitutionally and institutionally tried to eliminate other nations and forcibly assimilate all cultural and linguistic diversity in Iran into ONE nation's culture, language and religion i.e. Persianisation."



Bandoui spoke of how new media technologies such as satellite television and radio were playing a vital role in the growing sense of identity among Iran's constituent nations and resistance against state killings of opposition activists.

He added: "In our view having a stable democracy in the region is not feasible without solving this social and political issue through a democratic process in Iran. Notably, the shadow and the heat wave of the barbaric regime's atrocities with regard to the human rights violation has stretched itself from its borders and has become not only the regional but a global threat to peace and stability."

The demonstration was supported by leading British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has condemned Iran's ethnic cleansing programme against Ahwazi Arabs.



Ahwazis and Balochis chanted slogans, including "Ahmadinejad is the terrorist". The Ahwazi Arab activists facing execution have been accused of terrorism, although the regime has failed to substantiate the charges against the men who were tried in secret courts with little or no access to their lawyers. In contrast, President Ahmadinejad's government has been accused by Western governments of sponsoring international terrorism and of arming and organising death squads in Iraq.







Click here to view a video of the demonstration
Swedish MPs appeal to Ahmadinejad over executions

Swedish MPs appeal to Ahmadinejad over executions

Swedish members of parliament have stepped up pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to halt the executions of Ahwazi Arabs.

Egon Frid and Siv Holma of the Left Party, Helena Leander of the Green Party and Fredrik Malm of the Liberal Party voiced their concern over imminent execution of Ahwazi Arabs named in a motion passed by the European Parliament on Thursday (click here for details). In the letter, they reiterate statements by Amnesty International and other international and Iranian human rights organizations that the trials were deeply flawed and that "all the evidence points to their innocence."

"All 10 men were tortured into making false confessions," the Swedish MPs add in their letter. "Their lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the trial, which was held in secret. The lawyers for the condemned men have been arrested for complaining about the illegal and unjust nature of the men's trials. They have been charged with threatening national security."

They contrast the Ahwazi region's oil-rich with the "extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy" suffered by the indigenous inhabitants. "Ahwazis are subjected to repression, racial discrimination and faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation," they say. "The convictions are evidently arbitrary and are intended to collectively punish Ahwazi Arabs for opposing the system of apartheid that they are subjected to."

They have also pledged to ensure that the EU and European governments will continue to follow the situation of the Ahwazi Arabs in the future.
UNPO Continues Appeal to Halt Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran

UNPO Continues Appeal to Halt Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran

The following is a statement from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) - click here to download the original.

UNPO remains deeply concerned about the fate of the 10 ethnic Ahwazi-Arab activists recently sentenced to death by Iranian Courts, as well as an eleventh activist also to be hanged, but without formal trial or sentencing.

The European Parliament yesterday expressed also their concern, adopting a resolution which calls for an immediate halt to their executions, as well as the release of all other prisoners of conscience, many of whom are at present languishing without trial in Iranian jails. The resolution also expresses a broader concern with the treatment of minorities within Iran, many of whom are UNPO Members, as well as the prevalence and methods of execution used as a means to silence political opposition.

The Resolution in Full

The 10 men, Ali Motairi, Abdullah Solaimani, Abdulreza Sanawati (Zergani), Ghasem Salamat, Mohamad Chaab Pour, Abdulamir Farajullah Chaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish, Khalaf Khaziri, Malek Banitamim, were all found guilty of charges relating initially to an incident of terrorism, and later to Mohareb (enmity with God), in secret one-day trials which have received extensive international condemnation. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have indicated also a general concern with the fairness of any trail involving Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran.

In addition to having their trials conducted in secret, the defendants were not permitted to meet with their lawyers, several of whom have also been arrested following their complaints over the fairness of the proceedings. There are also reports suggesting that the defendants were tortured during detention, and forced to make confessions later broadcasted on Iranian television. It was the televised confession of the untried eleventh individual, Mr. Saeed Hamedan, which indicated he is also to be amongst the executed.

As international leaders consider the potential benefits of softening their stance and increasing cooperation with the Iranian Regime, UNPO is part of the growing number of politicians, international institutions, and members of civil society demanding Iran commute the death sentences of the 11 men, as well as cease entirely in their use of the death sentence as a means of punishing political activists.

UNPO has issued appeals to Philip Alston, the United Nations' (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, and Mrs. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has also issued appeals to several MEPs; Hon. Ms. Angelika Beer, Chairwoman of the Iran Delegation in the European Parliament; Hon. Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament, Member of European Parliament (MEP); Elmar Brok, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Helene Flautre; Paolo Casaca; and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.

British and European Parliamentary members contacted by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), including Chris Bryant MP and Michael Gove MP, joined by Green Party MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, have also called on UN Secretary General Mr. Annan, as well as a range of senior EU and UN leaders, to step in and demand Tehran commutes the death sentences.

Their calls will be echoed this weekend, when a number of Ahwazi and Azeri groups will be joined also by UNPO Member from Balochistan to protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London. International Media are also sure also to support the gathering, featuring a number of prominent articles, such as in; The Guardian (UK) and The Daily Mail (UK).

UNPO remains deeply concerned about the imminent executions and the ongoing situation for Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, and will continue to appeal for:

- Iran to stop the execution of the 11 convicted men and grant fair trials to the 19 men convicted of the bombing;

- The Iranian government to cease its execution of Ahwaz Arabs for peaceful protest; and

- Iran to address the issue of unfair trials and extrajudicial and summary executions of the indigenous Ahwaz Arab people.

Related links
Appeal to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Information about Protest in London
Article in The Guardian (UK)
Iran sentences three more Ahwazis to death

Iran sentences three more Ahwazis to death

The Iranian regime has sentenced three more Ahwazi Arabs to death, despite condemnation over planned execution of 11 Ahwazis.

The three - Abdul Housain Haribi, Housain Maramazi and Housain Asakre - were sentenced to hang by a one-day closed trial at the Revolutionary Court in Falahiyah (Shadegan) on Thursday. They were accused of bombing oil pipelines in the Al-Ahwaz region, which produces 90 per cent of Iran's oil output. The trials of Ahwazi Arabs have been mired in controversy, with complaints from human rights organisations of political interference in the judicial process, lack of access to lawyers, torture and televised forced confessions.

The European Parliament voted unanimously to condemn the imminent execution of 11 Ahwazi Arabs by the Iranian regime in a motion supported by all political groups. The motion highlighted the Iranian regime's discrimination against ethnic minorities, particularly the Ahwazi Arabs who are "being displaced from their villages according to statements by Miloon Kothari, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, while some of them remain in detention or have been sentenced to death."

It "condemns the current disrespect of minority rights and demands that minorities be allowed to exercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law" and "calls upon the authorities to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious or ethnic grounds or against persons belonging to minorities, such as Kurds, Azeris, Arabs and Baluchis."

Iran's defiance of the European Parliament's condemnation is likely to sour EU relations with Iran. The mass executions of Ahwazi Arabs have focused attention on the regime's violent racism, with the campaign for a halt in executions gathering pace. The Finnish government - which currently holds the EU presidency - is reportedly preparing to take up the matter of executions of Ahwazis with the Iranian government on behalf of the EU.

Related stories::
European Parliament condemns Iran over Ahwazi executions - 16 November
"The barbaric deaths meant to spread fear" - Daily Mail - 16 November
Balochis and Azeris rally against Iran's executions - 16 November
Iran: Flawed trials and injustice - 15 November
Ahwazi men "confess" to belonging to obscure militant group - 15 November
UNPO Call to Stop Public Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran - 14 November
Senior European Parliamentarian condemns Iran's ethnic cleansing - 14 November
Eleventh Ahwazi added to the list of those facing execution - 14 November
"Iran is guilty of ethnic cleansing" - Green MEPs - 14 November
Iran regime shows forced "confessions" on Khuzestan TV - 13 November
Mass executions of Ahwazis threaten Middle East security - 12 November
Ten Ahwazi Arabs to hang in public - 11 November
Psychologist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment - 18 October
"27 Ahwazi dissidents in custody" - Emadeddin Baghi - 9 September
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 July
Iran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January

European Parliament condemns Iran over Ahwazi executions

The European Parliament has condemned the imminent execution of 11 Ahwazi Arabs by the Iranian regime in a motion supported by all political groups.

The motion highlighted the Iranian regime's discrimination against ethnic minorities, particularly the Ahwazi Arabs who are "being displaced from their villages according to statements by Miloon Kothari, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, while some of them remain in detention or have been sentenced to death."

It "condemns the current disrespect of minority rights and demands that minorities be allowed to exercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law" and "calls upon the authorities to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious or ethnic grounds or against persons belonging to minorities, such as Kurds, Azeris, Arabs and Baluchis."

The motion also "calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately halt the imminent execution of the Arabs Abdullah Suleymani, Abdulreza Sanawati Zergani, Qasem Salamat, Mohammad Jaab Pour, Abdulamir Farjallah Jaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish, Khalaf Derhab Khudayrawi, Malek Banitamim, Sa'id Saki and Abdullah Al-Mansouri."

The vote of condemnation was supported by the Conservative, Socialist, Green, Liberal Democrat, Radical and Communist groups, representing the entire spectrum of political opinion in Europe. British Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert have pushed the issue of Ahwazi Arab rights at the European Parliament and have strongly condemned the Iranian regime's violent persecution of minorities (click here for further details).

The European Parliament's unanimous censure of the Iranian regime's treatment of minorities will have a major impact on EU relations with Iran. The mass executions of Ahwazi Arabs have focused attention on the regime's violent racism, with the campaign for a halt in executions gathering pace. The Finnish government - which currently holds the EU presidency - is reportedly preparing to take up the matter of executions of Ahwazis with the Iranian government on behalf of the EU.

The lobbying effort in the UK has been intense. William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and former leader of the Conservative Party, met with Foreign Office officials yesterday to highlight concerns about the execution of Ahwazi Arabs. His office told the British Ahwazi Friendship Society that the officials "assured him that they are taking the case extremely seriously, and that the FCO regularly raises the issue of individual death sentences with the Iranian government. Mr Hague believes it is important that international condemnation of this case is heard in Tehran, and he will continue to follow the matter closely."

Labour MP Chris Bryant, a long-standing critic of Iran's atrocious human rights record, is preparing to table an Early Day Motion in the British parliament which will condemn Iran's mass execution of Ahwazis.

DEMONSTRATION AGAINST EXECUTIONS AND ETHNIC CLEANSING OF AHWAZI ARABS:
DATE: SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER
TIME: 1PM-3PM
PLACE:
IRANIAN EMBASSY
PRINCE'S GATE
LONDON
NEAREST TUBE: SOUTH KENSINGTON
CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

Related stories::
"The barbaric deaths meant to spread fear" - Daily Mail - 16 November
Balochis and Azeris rally against Iran's executions - 16 November
Iran: Flawed trials and injustice - 15 November
Ahwazi men "confess" to belonging to obscure militant group - 15 November
UNPO Call to Stop Public Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran - 14 November
Senior European Parliamentarian condemns Iran's ethnic cleansing - 14 November
Eleventh Ahwazi added to the list of those facing execution - 14 November
"Iran is guilty of ethnic cleansing" - Green MEPs - 14 November
Iran regime shows forced "confessions" on Khuzestan TV - 13 November
Mass executions of Ahwazis threaten Middle East security - 12 November
Ten Ahwazi Arabs to hang in public - 11 November
Psychologist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment - 18 October
"27 Ahwazi dissidents in custody" - Emadeddin Baghi - 9 September
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 July
Iran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January
"The barbaric deaths meant to spread fear" - Daily Mail

"The barbaric deaths meant to spread fear" - Daily Mail

The following is an article from the Daily Mail, one of the UK's most popular newspapers, on Iran's planned execution of 11 innocent Ahwazi Arabs for "waging war on God" - click here to download the original

As Tony Blair warms to Iran, Tehran's hard-line Islamic regime is preparing to hoist 11 Iranian Arabs from cranes and slowly strangle them to death in public.

The men were convicted of involvement in a bombing spree after secret trials. But activists insist they are innocent and paying the price for merely hailing from the country's downtrodden Arab minority.

It is feared they could be hanged as early as today because their 'confessions' were broadcast on Iranian television on Monday night.

Two other ethnic Arabs were publicly hanged from a crane in March just two days after their heavily-edited 'confessions' were televised.

Public executions are not uncommon in the Islamic Republic. It carries out more every year than any country but China. Some are particularly gruesome.

The 11 were convicted for their alleged role in explosions that killed more than 20 people in Iran's oil-rich province of Khuzestan last year.

The slow strangulation method to be used on them is designed to maximise suffering. It prolongs the agony and 'intimidates the public', said Dr Karim Abdian, executive director of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation in Washington.

The 11 were due to be hanged in the city of Ahwaz, capital of Khuzestan, where ethnic Arabs are a majority.

Now it is believed the hangings will take place in several cities with largely Arab populations to spread the fear, said Dr Abdian.

The imminent executions are raising a storm of protest from British MPs. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, backed by Labour MP Chris Bryant and Tory MP Michael Gove, is urging the Government to petition Iran to commute the executions. 'The men were tortured into giving false confessions,' said Mr Tatchell.

The sentences were imposed after trials behind closed doors which human rights groups say did not meet international standards. One of the condemned men was even in jail at the time of the bombings.

Iranian and foreign activists say the trials of the 11 were flawed, the charges baseless and the sentencing based on a spurious interpretation of the law.

'We've challenged the regime if they have any evidence whatsoever of any crime to show it and they haven't been able to show a shred of evidence,' said Dr Abdian.

The condemned men come from three groups, he added. Most are from a reformist ethnic Arab party whose goal is to win rights for Ahwazi Arabs through legal and constitutional means.

The peaceful group was banned last week after the Iranian judiciary accused it of inciting unrest and opposing the Islamic system.

Some are human rights activists and others 'are just professionals like engineers and doctors who have been picked just because they are smart people of the Arabs'.
Balochis and Azeris rally against Iran's executions

Balochis and Azeris rally against Iran's executions

Balochi and Azeri groups have united behind the campaign for a halt in Iran's campaign of executions and ethnic cleansing against Ahwazis.

The Balochistan Peoples Party will participate in the demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London on Saturday from 1pm. Like the Ahwazis, the Balochis - a mostly Sunni nation located on either side of the Iran-Pakistan border - are facing mass executions as the Iranian regime attempts to quash a growing rebellion in Balochistan. During the last two years the Iranian intelligence agencies, particularly the Mersad group, appear to have followed a policy of "shoot and kill" instead of arresting young Baloch accused of being members of the Baloch resistance movement. The Iranian regime has launched a series of military operations and "war games" in Balochistan, using both helicopter gun-ships and air strikes. According to government's own media sources, the regime has shot, executed or hanged, more than 200 Baloch individuals over the past few months, relying heavily on accusations of drug smuggling, anti revolutionary activities, and cooperation with the United States and Great Britain.

Balochis have been preyed upon by the Iranian regime. On 23 August 2006, the Marsad Group attacked a village near Zahidan, the provincial capital of Balochistan, and killed two young men in front of women and children. They were forced out of their homes, to search for the members of resistance movement and weapons. The two young men had protested against the ill treatment of the women. On the 24th of August Amir Hamzeh Eidouzehi, a young man, was hanged in public in Baloch town of Khash, and another young men, Ali Jan Moradi, was hanged in IranShahr on 27 August 2006, both were accused of instigating public trouble and drug trafficking, a sentenced without trail. On the 24th of September three men identified as Ali Karimi, Gholam Koohkan, and Khodamorad Lashkarzadeh, were hanged in prison in provincial capital Zahedan. These dissidents were also executed on charges of drug smuggling and convicted without trial.

Azeri Turks, comprising around a third of the Iranian population and also subject to racism in Iran, have also backed the campaign to halt the execution of Ahwazis. The Azerbaijani Youth Association is lobbying the European Parliament and European governments to take action. A representative wrote to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), saying: "It is with great concern that I have heard about Ahwazis in Iran facing execution. When it comes to life we make no difference on if they are Arabs or Turks. We must show solidarity with each other and together fight against these fascists."

DEMONSTRATION AGAINST EXECUTIONS AND ETHNIC CLEANSING OF AHWAZI ARABS:
DATE: SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER
TIME: 1PM-3PM
PLACE:
IRANIAN EMBASSY
PRINCE'S GATE
LONDON
NEAREST TUBE: SOUTH KENSINGTON
CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS
Iran: Flawed trials and injustice

Iran: Flawed trials and injustice

The following is an article by Peter Tatchell, which appeared on the Guardian's website today - click here to download the original and participate in the on-line debate.

The planned hanging of 11 activists in Iran look like a deliberate attempt by Tehran to intimidate and silence Ahwazi Arab protests.

This week, 11 Ahwazi Arab rights activists are scheduled to be hanged in Iran. They will by strung up by cranes in public squares, using the slow strangulation method, which is deliberately designed to maximise and prolong their suffering. This is "justice" in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Instead of pressing President Ahmadinejad to commute these death sentences, Tony Blair seems more interested in enlisting Iran's help to get him and George Bush out of the mess in Iraq. Mr Blair's speech at the Guildhall on Monday night implored Tehran to stop supporting terrorism in Iraq and abide by its international obligations on nuclear non-proliferation. Not a word about Iran's duty to uphold international human rights laws.

Mr Blair may not care about human rights in Iran, but the international campaign against the execution of the 11 Arab activists is backed by Labour MP Chris Bryant, Conservative MP Michael Gove and Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert.

The condemned men were found guilty of bombing oil installations in 2005. But no material evidence of their guilt was offered at their trial. In fact, all the evidence points to their innocence. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly expressed serious concern about the fairness of trials involving Ahwazi Arabs and the safety of their convictions.

The men's lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the court proceedings. The trials were held in secret. Witnesses for the defence were refused permission to testify. The lawyers for the condemned men were recently arrested for complaining about the illegal and unjust nature of the trials. They face charges of threatening national security.

Family members say the men sentenced to death were tortured into making false confessions, which were broadcast on Iranian television on Monday night. In a recent letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, one of Iran's leading human rights advocates, Emadeddin Baghi, said that the trials of Ahwazi Arabs were flawed, the charges baseless, and that the sentencing was based on a spurious interpretation of the law.

According to the Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation and the British-Ahwazi Friendship Society, these men have been framed as part of Tehran's on-going persecution of its Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority population in the south-west Iranian province of Khuzestan.

Ahwazi Arabs accuse Tehran of Persian chauvinism, racism and ethnic cleansing, as I recently exposed in Tribune. The response from Islamists and their far left apologists was to accuse me of being racist and anti-Muslim. How can it be Islamophobic or racist to defend Arab Muslims against Tehran's persecution?

Anyway, don't take my word for it. Amnesty International has also expressed concern about the victimisation of the Arab minority in Iran. The planned hangings look like a deliberate attempt by Tehran to intimidate and silence Ahwazi Arab protests against ethnic subjugation and mass impoverishment.

The Ahwazi Arab homeland produces 90% of Iran's oil output and 10% of Opec's global production. Tehran expropriates all the oil revenues, leaving the region as the third poorest in the country, with near-African levels of poverty.

Tehran treats Arabs similarly, in some respects, to the way the South African apartheid regime treated black people. Under apartheid, black pupils were compelled to take school lessons in the oppressor language of Afrikaans. Likewise, Tehran has banned Arabic in Ahwazi schools and made instruction in Farsi (Persian) compulsory. The result is a 30% Arab drop-out rate at primary level and a 50% drop-out rate at secondary level. Illiteracy rates among Arabs are at least four times those of non-Arabs.

This ethnic persecution is one aspect of Tehran's systemic human rights abuses. Iran also executes Muslims who turn away from their faith, unchaste women and gay people. According to Amnesty International, its prisons are full of political prisoners: Sunni Muslims, Bahais, Kurds, trade unionists, students, journalists, lawyers, communists and human rights advocates.

On land confiscated from Ahwazi Arabs, Iran is training, financing and arming Islamist death squads in Iraq. With Tehran's approval, these killers are murdering Sunni Muslims, men wearing jeans and shorts, unveiled women, barbers, sellers of alcohol and videos, and people who listen to western music or who have a stylish haircut.

Contrary to Tehran's misinformation campaign, the vast majority of Ahwazi Arabs reject separatism. They want regional self-government, not independence. Nor do they support a US invasion. This would, they argue, strengthen the position of the hardliners in Tehran, allowing President Ahmadinejad to use the pretext of defence and security to play the nationalist card and to further crack down on dissent. Many Ahwazis believe the route to reform - for the benefit of all the people of Iran - is an internal alliance of Iranian democrats, leftists, trade unionists, minority nationalities and local civic organisations.

DEMONSTRATION AGAINST EXECUTIONS AND ETHNIC CLEANSING OF AHWAZI ARABS:
DATE: SATURDAY 18 NOVEMBER
TIME: 1PM-3PM
PLACE:
IRANIAN EMBASSY
PRINCE'S GATE
LONDON
NEAREST TUBE: SOUTH KENSINGTON
CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS

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