According to the Mohammara News Agency (MONA), Sheikh Saleh Haidari, the imam of Dayiereh mosque, has been on hunger strike since Wednesday.
Sheikh Haidari was arrested after he led the Eid-ul-Adha mass prayer and peaceful demonstration on 11 January. The demonstration was fired upon by Iran's security forces, killing an unknown number of civilians. Sheikh Haidari is reportedly refusing both food and water and is certain to die soon. He is being charged with threatening national security. The protest he led was peaceful and demanded an end to ethnic cleansing, the persecution of Arabs, poverty and unemployment and called for the release of political prisoners arrested following the Ahwazi uprising of April 2005.
Meanwhile, in Ahwaz City, the government is currently cracking down on Ahwazi Arab street vendors. Many Arab farmers made landless due to the government's land confiscation programme have been forced into informal sector employment in the cities, selling items by the roadside to feed their families. Street vendors live on the margins in the shanty towns of Khuzestan, one of the world's most oil-rich areas. The government's ban on street vending will worsen poverty among Ahwazi Arabs and is likely to prompt further anti-government demonstrations in the province.