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Iran Blames British for Bombs - Again!

Iran Blames British for Bombs - Again!

The hard-line Kayhan International newspaper has once again accused the British of carrying out bomb attacks in Ahwaz.

"The bomb blasts in the cities of Dezful and Abadan on Monday were undoubtedly the dastardly work of mercenaries operating from British bases across the border in southern Iraq," said the newspaper, which operates as a government mouthpiece.

It claimed that British bases had turned into "training camps for terrorists." This comes a day after Iran Focus, an organ of the National Council for Resistance in Iran (NCRI), listed 20 alleged terrorist training camps in Iran, six of which are in Khuzestan province (see: http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5956).

"The ministries of the interior and information have documented evidence of British meddling," said the paper. However, the regime has consistently failed to produce any evidence or stage public trials for those it has accused of being "British mercenaries." The regime has also taken no action against the British government or its diplomats in Tehran, indicating that its accusations are baseless propaganda designed to deflect attention from the controversies surrounding its nuclear programme.

The paper stated: "Fed up with the increasingly impudent behaviour of the British they are demanding that the interior and intelligence ministries as well as the judiciary make public the files of the British agents nabbed in Khuzestan."

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "The British are blamed every time there is a bomb attack or demonstration in Al-Ahwaz. For a group of religious fanatics, the mullahs are incredibly reluctant to publish this damning 'evidence' of British involvement in terrorist attacks.

"It is unusual for those fighting a jihad to be so cautious about upsetting their enemies. The mullahs' Basij forces that violently attack foreign embassies in Tehran do not show the same restraint, nor do those suicide bombers recruited and trained by the regime to attack foreign countries. So why the reticence to reveal the 'evidence' of British complicity in the Ahwaz bombings? Could it be that the mullahs are liars and hypocrites?

"Either the Iranian regime has a very tenuous grip on Al-Ahwaz and is not in control of events, or its ministers are lying and the attacks are the responsibility of some other group. It is evident that the only people who benefit from bomb attacks in Al-Ahwaz are hard-liners in the regime who wish to create excuses for increasing their ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs."
Iran: Al-Ahwaz witnesses three explosions

Iran: Al-Ahwaz witnesses three explosions

Three bomb blasts occurred across Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan) on Monday, in Malashieh near the provincial capital Ahwaz City, Dezful in the north of the province and Abadan which lies on the banks of the Shatt Al-Arab near Iraq's Basra province, according to the Fars News Agency. Later reports by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) did not mention a bomb attack in Malashieh.

The attacks come after weeks of anti-regime demonstrations by Ahwazi Arabs, which have prevented President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from making a public visit to Al-Ahwaz. Ahmadinejad made a secret visit to the province in late January, staying in Shahrak Naft near Ahwaz City at the house of the regional executive of the National Iranian Oil Company (see: http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2006/02/president-ahmadinejad-in-secret-visit.html).

Ahwaz's prisons are over-flowing as the regime conducts a massive crack-down on tribal leaders, journalists, opposition activists and those wearing the kufiya (Arab scarf), which has now been banned for its association with the Arab rights movement. A number of unarmed demonstrators have been killed in cold blood by Iranian security forces.

The regime has recently announced that it will execute a number of activists and tribal leaders, prompting outrage among Ahwazi Arabs. Among those facing execution are the sons of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. The regime is intent on destroying the Bawi tribal leadership to intimidate and quash dissent in Al-Ahwaz (see: http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2006/02/iran-prepares-to-execute-tribal-family.html).

Amnesty International has recently published a report condemning the persecution of ethnic minorities in Iran (see: http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2006/02/amnesty-condemns-irans-treatment-of.html. Paulo Casaca, who heads the European Parliament's delegation to NATO, has condemned the Iranian government's policies in Khuzestan as "ethnic cleansing" (see: http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2006/01/iran-is-ethnic-cleansing-ahwazis.html).
Film on Shirinshahr and ethnic cleansing of Ahwaz Arabs

Film on Shirinshahr and ethnic cleansing of Ahwaz Arabs

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Al-Ahwaz TV has produced a short documentary on Shirinshahr, which is based on unique footage shot on the road to the ethnic Persian township currently under construction. The new town is being built on land confiscated from Ahwazi farmers. The film shows the constrast between the abject poverty of Ahwazi Arabs compared to the large investments being ploughed into exclusive Persian settlements built on their land. For more information, see "Ethnic Cleansing in Full Force in Iran", 25 February 2006, British Ahwazi Friendship Society.
Ethnic Cleansing in full force in Iran

Ethnic Cleansing in full force in Iran

The Iranian regime is stepping up its land confiscation programme in order to expand Persian settlements in Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan), despite condemnation by the UNCHR and European Parliament last year.

The Shahinshahr and Ramin settlements are the focus of a new wave of land confiscations, in addition to the ethnic cleansing being carried out along the Arvand Free Trade Zone along the Shatt Al-Arab.

The regime is encouraging ethnic Persians to settle on the land confiscated from Ahwazi Arab farmers by placing advertisements in Faris-speaking provinces and cities. The adverts promise cheap fully furnished apartments with all amenities, which is in stark contrast to the squalor of the slums and villages where most Ahwazi Arabs reside.

A number of exclusively Persian settlements have already been built on Ahwazi Arab land, including the Ramin-1 and Ramin-2 townships, Shahinshahr, Shirinshar and Jufir. New Persian townships are being constructed on a daily basis. Similar ones are being built daily.

Some of these settlements were highlighted by Miloon Kothari, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, following a visit to Al-Ahwaz last year (click here for report).

In an interview, Kothari said: "when you visit Ahwaz ... there are thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections ... why is that? Why have certain groups not benefited? ... Again in Khuzestan, ... we drove outside the city about 20 km and we visited the areas where large development projects are coming up - sugar cane plantations and other projects along the river - and the estimate we received is that between 200,000-250,000 Arab people are being displaced from their villages because of these projects. And the question that comes up in my mind is, why is it that these projects are placed directly on the lands that have been homes for these people for generations? I asked the officials, I asked the people we were with. And there is other land in Khuzestan where projects could have been placed which would have minimised the displacement."

A recent official announcement by the Iranian regime states: "The new company that oversees the new city of Ramin (outside Ahwaz) in accordance with the article 2 of the below law and other laws pertaining to purchase and confiscation of lands for building cities and other military and civilian developments, law # 1358/11/117, issued and approved by the respected revolutionary council, is planning to expand the first phase of the New city of Ramin, and needs take over and possess parts of area of Sanicheh and Jalieah, plaque # 29 and 42 of zone 5 of Ahwaz, in accordance with the attached layout [pictured].

"Therefore, this announcement will be published only twice in one month, for informing the owners of said properties, who must repond within 15 days from the publication of this announcement, with their ownership documents, to this location, for their submittal (relinquishment) of their properties to us. Attend the office of this company located in Kianpars corner of Sixth Street West, 2nd floor.

"If owners do not visit the office, the expropriation and confiscation will continue to take place according to the law."

The land confiscation programme - including the Arvand Free Zone - is in line with the "ethnic restructuring" programme outlined in a top secret letter written by Sayed Mohammad-Ali Abtahi when he served as Iran's Vice-President. The letter was leaked to the international media last year, prompting the April intifada in Al-Ahwaz. (click here to download the letter)
Amnesty condemns Iran's executions

Amnesty condemns Iran's executions

Amnesty International has expressed its outrage over an "alarming rate" of executions in Iran, particularly the use of the death penalty against children.

The human rights organisation has recorded 28 executions so far in 2006, following at least 94 in 2005 - although it states that "the true figure is likely to be much higher." The use of the death penalty is increasingly being used against political prisoners.

An Amnesty press release highlighted the case of two Ahwazi Arabs who face imminent execution - Mohammad Ali Sawari and Mehdi Nawaseri. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) highlighted the cases of Mehdi Nawaseri and his brother Abdolreza Nawaser on 21 February (click for details).

The Iranian regime has stated that seven of 45 people accused of bomb attacks in Ahwaz had been convicted of "enmity with God, corruption on earth and murder". Amnesty says the offences carry heavy penalties, including "execution, cross amputation [amputation of right hand and left foot], crucifixion for three days, or banishment."

Amnesty states that it "recognizes the rights and responsibilities of governments to bring to justice those suspected of committing recognizably criminal offences, but the organization is unconditionally opposed to the use of the death penalty as the ultimate violation of the right to life. It therefore urges the Iranian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and to abide by its international obligations not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were a child."

Link: "Iran: Worrying trends in use of death penalty" - Amnesty International Press Release, 24 February 2006
American Marines Probe Ahwazi Unrest in Iran

American Marines Probe Ahwazi Unrest in Iran

London's Financial Times has reported that the US Marines Corps Intelligence has launched a probe into unrest in Ahwaz with fears heightening that increased ethnic oppression by the Iranian could lead to the country's fragmentation.

The Iranian regime has already accused the British government of responsibility for bomb attacks in Ahwaz, although it has failed to produce any evidence to back up its claims. There is no suggestion as yet that the US's interest in the Ahwazi issue is anything but an attempt to better understand the ethnic composition and commonalities between Iran and Iraq. The FT states that Lieutenant-Colonel Rick Long, a marines spokesman, confirmed that the marines had commissioned Hicks and Associates, a defence contractor, to conduct two research projects into Iraqi and Iranian ethnic groups. Hicks and Associates is a subsidiary of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

The FT reports that: "US intelligence experts suggested the marines' effort could indicate early stages of contingency plans for a ground assault on Iran. Or it could be an attempt to evaluate the implications of the unrest in Iranian border regions for marines stationed in Iraq, as well as Iranian infiltration.

"Other experts affiliated to the Pentagon suggest the investigation merely underlines that diverse intelligence wings of the US military were seeking to justify their existence at a time of plentiful funding."

Karim Abdian, head of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, participated in the research on the understanding that the results would be made public, but did not know the motives behind the research. Hicks and Associates was referred to him by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) several months ago after it was approached to give evidence. BAFS did not participate in the research and has had no further contacts with the US government or its contractors.

Abdian told the FT that the SAIC researcher had asked him questions relating to "the ethnic breakdown of Khuzestan province on the Iraq border, populations in cities, the level of discontent, the percentage of Arabs working in the oil industry, how they were represented in the central government, and their relations and kinship with Iraqi Arabs next door." He speculated that the Marines were probably seeking a better understanding of the region that directly affects them or formulating contingency plans.

The FT said analysts believed that the upsurge in ethnic unrest in Iran was related to the adoption of a federal constitution in Iraq, which has served as a catalyst for a politicisation of economic and cultural grievances.

Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA specialist on the Middle East, told the FT that the State Department, not the Pentagon, is running Iran policy. He said the State Department was was "nowhere near the point" of trying to use separatist tendencies among minorities to undermine the regime's authority, adding that they were unsure that such a move would work.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad: "US interest in Ahwaz appears to have been generated by the intifada last April, when Iran lost control over parts of Khuzestan province. It is natural that the US authorities would want to commission their own research on the unstable situation in Ahwaz and its effects on Iraq. From what we understand, the Pentagon is gathering its own information separate from the State Department.

"BAFS does not support any invasion of Iran and cautions against government funding for separatist groups. We support the Democratic Solidarity Party of Ahwaz's platform of non-violent direct action, a federal Iranian state and opposition to separatism.

"We believe the international community should regard the Ahwazi issue as a human rights and humanitarian crisis, rather than an issue of military strategy. Ahwazis need land, jobs and democratic freedoms, not bullets and bombs. The UN and its agencies need to be more proactive on the Ahwazi issue to prevent ethnic cleansing."

Click here for the Financial Times report "US marines probe tensions among Iran's ethnic minorities", by Guy Dinmore, 23 February
UNPO Urgent Appeal on Ahwazi Prisoners Held by Iran

UNPO Urgent Appeal on Ahwazi Prisoners Held by Iran

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) has issued an appeal for urgent action to Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions to pay urgent attention to the imminent execution of the two Ahwazi Arab brothers in Ahwaz City on the conviction of "waging war against Allah". The appeal comes after the British Ahwazi Friendship Society publicised their cases - click here for further details.

Mehdi Nawaser, 21, and Abdolreza Nawaser, 31, were arrested in November 2005 before the Eid-al-Fitr anti-government demonstrations and are reportedly facing impending execution by hanging. Following their conviction they are reported to have told the court that they refused to accept the ruling of a non-indigenous, non-Arab, discredited and undemocratic regime.

The appeal follows the statement by Iran's State Prosecutor General Ghorban-Ali Dori-Najafabadi, indicating that the execution verdict of the two Ahwazi Arabs is "definitive", quoted by the hard-line Mehr News Agency on Monday 20 February.

In the appeal, UN expresses concerns about "the fairness of the proceedings leading to Mehdi Nawaser and Abdolreza Nawaser's conviction and fears that political factors may have influenced the way in which their cases were prosecuted; that the Nawaser brothers are prisoners of conscience, convicted for their peaceful criticism of the government. The Iranian regime has a history of execution of Ahwaz Arab people and political dissidents on the basis of similar arguments."

UNPO calls upon Iran to stop the execution of Mehdi Nawaser and Abdolreza Nawaser. Meanwhile, it also urges the UN Rapporteur to address the issue of unfair trials, extrajudicial and summary executions concerning indigenous Ahwaz Arab people, and to urge Iran to comply with minimum international standards for fair prosecution.
Confusion over Ahwaz executions

Confusion over Ahwaz executions

According to Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Justice Minister Jamal Karim-Rad has dismissed suggestions that seven Ahwazi Arabs accused by the regime of masterminding bomb attacks in Ahwaz will face the death penalty (click for report).

Karim-Rad claimed that "the foreign media had fabricated news that the persons convicted of the bombings in Ahvaz had received the death sentence," according to IRNA. However, on Monday State Prosecutor General Ghorban-Ali Dori-Najafabadi was quoted by the hard-line Mehr News Agency stating: "Some of the convicted in this case have received execution verdict, including the two main culprits, whose presence in the recent Ahvaz incidents was proved and their execution verdict is definitive."

Karim-Rad appears to have over-ruled the death penalty. He told IRNA: "Islam lays down four types of punishment for enemies of God and the crimes committed by all the seven convicts do not call for the death sentence." The news agency said that he "did not say what punishment their crimes deserved." He simultaneously acknowledged that two of the seven have been sentenced to death, but said their cases were under review by the Supreme Court, which has the power to over-turn sentences handed down by lower courts.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "There is a lot of confusion over who is facing execution as the regime is not revealing the identities of those it has convicted or what crimes they are accused of committing. The trials have been held in secret religious courts and relatives are not allowed direct contact with the accused. Matters have not been helped by contradictory statements by officials of the regime. It gives the impression that the justice system is in chaos and hands down arbitrary and politically motivated sentences.

"Over the past few days, BAFS have obtained the names of 12 people who are known to have been sentenced to death. We have also received reports that two people have been executed in Dezful prison and two in a public square in Shiraz. Whether there is any relation between these people and those mentioned by the regime is a mystery.

"We hope that Karim-Rad's statement indicates that lives will be spared. This will go some way to restoring justice for the accused, particularly for the six sons of the Ahwazi tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi who we are convinced are innocent. Any executions would be highly provocative in a situation where tensions are running high in Ahwaz.

"We back calls by the relatives of the accused for transparent, fair and open trials. We also call on the authorities to release all political prisoners that have been detained since last April's uprising in Ahwaz. We urge the EU and the UNCHR to support the deployment of human rights monitors in Khuzestan in order to review the situation facing Ahwazi Arabs."

Relevant articles
Iran prepares to execute two Ahwazi Arab brothers - 21 February
Iran carries out executions as prisons overflow with Arabs - 21 February

Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran prepares to execute two Ahwazi Arab brothers

Iran prepares to execute two Ahwazi Arab brothers

Two Ahwazi Arab brothers convicted of "waging war against Allah" have been sentenced to death in relation to recent bombings in Ahwaz City. Their execution will come after a long period of incarceration and torture by the Iranian regime and a trial by a religious kangaroo court.

Mehdi Nawaser, 21, (left) and Abdolreza Nawaser, 31, (right) are facing execution by hanging, either in the prison where they are being held or in a public square. Mehdi was arrested in November before the Eid-al-Fitr anti-government demonstrations. Following his conviction he reportedly told the court that he refused to accept the ruling of a non-indigenous, non-Arab, discredited and undemocratic regime.

The Nawaser brothers cases are not thought to be related to the six sons of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi, who are all facing execution for "waging war against Allah". Click here for further details on the Bawi brothers.
Iran floods Ahwaz Arabs out of their homes

Iran floods Ahwaz Arabs out of their homes

The Iranian regime is allowing the flooding of land in Khuzestan, making it impossible for Ahwazi Arabs to farm or live there.

The Karoon and Karkhe rivers that flow through the province have flooded, although there has been no rain. A 170 km stretch of land from Ahwaz to Mohammara (Khorramshahr) is now under water, according to local politicians. The flooding has devastated crops just one month ahead of the harvest. Already suffering high levels of poverty due to racial discrimination and forced displacement, Ahwazi Arab farmers are facing hunger and homelessness as a result of the regime's refusal to prevent flooding. Most flood-affected Ahwazis are now either stranded on the roofs of their homes or living on roadsides.

Mohammad Said Ansari, a Conservative Majlis (parliament) representative for the Arab city of Abadan, said that the flooding has devastated Ahwazi Arab farms and attacked "bad policies". He alleged that the authorities had deliberately caused the flood by refusing to dredge and desilt the Karoon and Bahmanshir rivers. The government is trying to create the impression that the province has enough water reserves to divert water to dry provinces such as Rafsanjan, he said. Ansari has called for an immediate investigation into the cause of the rising water in Karoon and Karkhe and compensation and housing for those affected.

Reformist Majlis representative for Abadan, Abdullah Kaabi, is also campaigning for assistance for those made homeless by the floods. The Ministry of Energy and Power has ignored his repeated calls for the dredging of the Bahmanshir river and repairs to levees to prevent flooding. Kaabi concludes that the ministry is therefore directly responsible for the humanitarian disaster. He has also attacked emergency services for failing to intervene to alleviate the problems facing Ahwazi Arabs affected by floods.

Khuzestan Majlis members have already called for the impeachment of the Minister of Energy and Power Parviz Fattah over the diversion of the Karoon River to Rafsanjan. Click here for further details.

Ahwazi Arab representatives have long been campaigning against river diversion, but the Iranian government has continued to press ahead with the scheme. At a session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in May-June 2005, Karim Abdian, Director of Ahwaz Education and Human Rights Foundation, drew attention to the diversion of water from Karkhe River, which passes through an entirely indigenous Ahwazi Arab area of Howizeh and Boustan, to Kuwait and the diversion of the Karoon's water to central Iranian provinces.
Iran carries out executions as prisons overflow with Arabs

Iran carries out executions as prisons overflow with Arabs

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received reports that two Ahwazi Arab political prisoners were executed in the courtyard of a prison in Dezful while another two were executed by hanging in a public square in Shiraz. We do not have the names of those killed by the Iranian regime.

On 16 February, the Ahwaz Revolutionary court sentenced 10 Ahwazi Arabs to death for alleged connection to recent bombings: Amar Bawi, Hani Bawi, Zamal Bawi, Said Abiat, Mehdi Nawaseri, Ali Aodeh Afrawi (medical doctor), Mohamadali Saweri (teacher), Raisan Sawaeri and Moslem Alhani. BAFS has been following the cases of the Bawi brothers, who are the sons of Ahwazi tribal leader and businessman Hajj Salem Bawi. Click here for further details.

Prisons in Ahwaz are overflowing due to mass arrests by the Iranian authorities. At least 100 people were arrested in demonstrations in Ahwaz City and Fallahieah (Shadegan) on 16 February for wearing the kafieh and white dishdasha, Arab clothes recently banned in Khuzestan by the regime, and for carrying the Ahwazi national flag. Witnesses reported that Sepidar prison was refusing new prisoners due to over-crowding, a problem that is also affecting Karoon, Chahrshir, Amanieh and Serah prisons.
Bomb explodes in Ahwaz, no casualties

Bomb explodes in Ahwaz, no casualties

Reuters news agency reported that a percussion bomb exploded in Ahwaz City at 9.45pm local time, shattering windows but causing no fatalities or injuries. This is the fourth bomb attack in Ahwaz so far this year. On 26 January, a bomb exploded in a bank killing eight or nine people. At the same time, a percussion bomb exploded outside a government building causing no fatalities. Percussion bombs were also detonated in Ahwaz City on 29 January and 7 February with no reported injuries or deaths.

The Iranian regime has blamed bomb blasts in Ahwaz City on Ahwazi Arabs organised and directed by British forces in Iraq's Basra province. The British deny the accusations. One small and non-influential group based in Canada has claimed responsibility for the 26 January attacks, but it is impossible to verify the claims. The regime itself has not accused any particular Ahwazi group of responsibility for the attacks.

The Ahwazi opposition party, the Democratic Solidarity Party of Ahwaz, which represents the Ahwazis in UNPO, along with the National United Movement of Al-Ahwaz, Ahwaz Studies Centre, British Ahwazi Friendship Society, Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran and the Balochistan Peoples Party have united in condemnation of all political violence in Ahwaz. In a joint statement, they urged "politicians, non-governmental organisations and international bodies to recognise the suffering of the Ahwazi Arab people and the repression, economic marginalisation and state terrorism they face."
Iran prepares to execute tribal family

Iran prepares to execute tribal family



The British Ahwazi Friendship Society has received photographs and the personal details of the sons of an Ahwazi Arab tribal leader who face imminent execution in an act of vengeance against mass demonstrations by Ahwazis against the Iranian regime.

Six sons of tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi are currently in custody with three reportedly convicted of "war against Allah" and sentenced to death. The Iranian regime has executed an unknown number of Ahwazis in the past year. Some have "disappeared" after their arrest and their mutilated bodies have been found washed up in the Karoon River - click here for more details. Others have been officially executed, either in prison or in public squares on truck-mounted cranes, after trial by secretive religious courts.

It is not known where or when the Bawi brothers will be executed. Last week, Hajj Salem Bawi wrote an appeal to President Ahmadinejad to spare his sons' lives - click here for more details. The Bawi family are not known for involvement in political activism and own a number of computer shops in Ahwaz City.

Nasser Bani Assad, BAFS spokesman, said: "Two of the Bawi brothers have children, two others are students and all work hard in an expanding family business. The Iranian regime is claiming that these young men are willing to sacrifice their family lives and business and bomb fellow Arabs on the instruction of the British government. It is absurd.

"The regime wants to punish Ahwazi Arabs for daring to raise a voice against oppression and injustice. They have extracted confessions from Ahwazis in their custody using torture. They have set up a kangaroo religious court to try the men without any members of the public, press or their own family present. On the basis of this corrupt and abominable system of 'justice', they are prepared to wipe out an entire generation of a law-abiding Arab family.

"If the hard-liners think executions will pacify Ahwazi Arabs, they are very wrong. Ahwazis can only conclude that there is no fair system of justice in Iran and that Arabs cannot run businesses and rescue themselves from the crushing poverty they endure on a daily basis. Further despair and anger will heighten unrest in Al-Ahwaz and in turn give the authorities excuses for stepping up the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs from their homeland."



Details of Bawi family members:

Asad Habib Dakhil Bawi
Born: 22 June 1972
ID #773
Married with two sons
Arrested: 11.00am, 11 August 2005 at family computer shop.

Mohsen Salem Dakhil Bawi
Born: 11 September 1973
ID #9024
Single
Arrested: 9.00pm 11 August 2005 at family computer shop

Sohrab (Amad) Salem Dakhil Bawi
Born: 11 November 1975
ID #9026
Single
Arrested: 9.00pm, 10 August 2005 at family computer shop

Zamen Salem Dakhil Bawi
Born: 23 August 1977
ID #9027
Married with one son
Arrested: 2.30pm, 10 August 2005 in Akherasfalt street

Hani Salem Dakhil Bawi
Born: 21 September 1984
ID #2619
Single, student of Ahwaz University
Arrested: 9.00pm, 10 August 2005 at family computer shop

Moslem Salem Dakhil Bawi
Born: 21 September 1987
ID #8642
Single, student
Arrested: 10 August 2005 at an internet cafe
Ahwaz tribal leader in appeal to Iran president

Ahwaz tribal leader in appeal to Iran president




An Ahwazi Arab tribal leader has begun a public appeal to save his sons from imminent execution (pictures above are from the Arabistan.org website).

Hajj Salem Bawi, the father of six members of the Bawi tribe currently in Iranian custody, has complained to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about their arrest, imprisonment and "physical and psychological torture." In a letter dated 8 February, the tribal leader states that it has been six months since his sons were "arbitrarily arrested and kept in prison by the security forces without charge, without court proceedings and without any information [from the authorities] as to their situation despite my continuous inquiry."

The tribal leader, a businessman who owns computer shops in Ahwaz City, calls on Ahmadinejad to explain the charges against his sons and a review of their cases by "qualified courts" in accordance with article E 37-177 of the Iranian constitution. He also requests a three minute private audience with the President.

He writes that the arrests "have greatly affected our family, left us without support and bread winners and without protection. Furthermore, the mother of my six sons is extremely ill and her condition is deteriorating daily as a result."

The Bawi brothers have been the subject of a number of appeals by human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, which have highlighted their incommunicado detention and possible torture. Recent reports suggest that three of the Bawi brothers are among the seven recently sentenced to execution for "war against God" by religious courts. Two of the others reportedly facing the death penalty are Ali Mehdi Nawaseri and Muhammad-Ali Afrawi.

The Bawi brothers and others likely to face execution have no history of political activism. Those currently detained are are either university students or business men. They are accused of involvement in a series of bomb attacks in Ahwaz. One of the men was visiting family in Ahwaz during a break from studies at university in Beirut when he was arrested and was reportedly away from the country during the bomb attacks of October 2005.

The threat of executions comes after Hamid Zangeneh, a non-Arab Majlis member for Khuzestan aligned with the former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaei, called for Arabs to be taught a lesson with high profile executions, martial law and a crack-down by security forces. In an interview with the Mehr News Agency earlier this month, Zangeneh accused the regime of not doing enough, despite the killings and mass arrests of Arabs. President Ahmadinejad is under pressure from the religious establishment to prove his hard-line credentials by killing Arabs.

Links
Amnesty International Urgent Action, 2 November 2005
Amnesty International Urgent Action, 9 September 2005
Iran's mass arrest of Ahwazi tribal leaders and intellectuals - British Ahwazi Friendship Society, 9 September
Amnesty condemns Iran's treatment of ethnic minorities

Amnesty condemns Iran's treatment of ethnic minorities

The administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under severe criticism from Amnesty International in a report entitled "New government fails to address dire human rights situation", which was published this week.

Amnesty focusses on the treatment of ethnic minorities, particularly the Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds and Azeri Turks, but notes that Balochis, Turkmen and nomads also face persecution.

Sections of the report relating to Ahwazi Arabs have been reproduced below. Click here for the full report.

Despite constitutional guarantees of equality, individuals belonging to minorities in Iran, who are believed to number about half of the population of about 70 millions, are subject to an array of discriminatory laws and practices. These include land and property confiscations, denial of state and para-statal employment under the gozinesh criteria and restrictions on social, cultural, linguistic and religious freedoms which often result in other human rights violations such as the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, grossly unfair trials of political prisoners before Revolutionary Courts, corporal punishment and use of the death penalty, as well as restrictions on movement and denial of other civil rights.

Some of the problems currently confronting Iran's minority groups were brought to international attention by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, when he visited the country in July 2005. In his preliminary findings he noted that minorities were subject to discrimination in the distribution of state resources, in access to and the quality of housing, water and sanitation provided in the areas of the country where they reside, and are disproportionately affected by policies of "land grabbing".

The mainly Shi'a-Muslim Arab community in Iran constitutes between 3 per cent and 8 per cent of the total population. The Arab community lives mainly in Khuzestan province (known as Ahwaz by the Arab community) adjoining Iraq, the location of much of Iran's oil resources. Members of Iran's Arab community have a long-standing grievance against successive governments, claiming that Arabs have been overlooked in terms of the distribution of resources aimed at social development. Frustration and economic deprivation has spilled over in recent months into a cycle of violent protest and repression which seems likely to continue unless the Iranian authorities take the measures necessary to address the social, economic and other grievances that gave rise to the unrest.

Economic, social and cultural rights: The Arab population of Iran is one of the most economically and socially deprived in Iran. Even where the majority of the local population is Arab, schools are reportedly not allowed to teach through the medium of Arabic; illiteracy rates are reportedly high, especially among Ahwazi Arab women in rural areas. Arabs have also reportedly been denied state employment under the gozinesh criteria. Many villages and settlements reportedly have little or no access to clean running water, sanitation or other utilities such as electricity.

Amnesty International has received reports that the water supply in Ahwaz City is subject to frequent and irregular cuts, apparently resulting from the diversion of water from the Karoun River to cities such as Esfahan and Sanandaj. In December 2005, the situation was reportedly so dire that people were unable to shower more than once a week, and were being forced to buy drinking water from tankers in the street. Also in December 2005, members of the Majles representing Khuzestan province reportedly launched a petition to impeach the Minister of Energy over the continued diversion of water from the Karoun River to Rafsanjan and Esfahan provinces and in January 2006 reportedly threatened to resign en masse if the diversion continued. It has also been reported that, despite the province's water shortages, water from the Karkhe River, which passes through the Ahwazi Arab area of Howizeh and Boustan, is diverted for sale to Kuwait.

Furthermore, land expropriation by the Iranian authorities is reportedly so widespread that it appears to amount to a policy aimed at dispossessing Arabs of their traditional lands. This is apparently part of a strategy aimed at the forcible relocation of Arabs to other areas while facilitating the transfer of non-Arabs into Khuzestan and is linked to economic policies such as zero interest loans which are not available to local Arabs.

In October 2005, a letter came to light, dated 9 July 2005, in which the Arvand Free Trade Zone Organization outlined plans for the confiscation of 155 sq km, including Arab land and villages, to provide for the establishment of the Arvand Free Trade Zone between Abadan and the Iraqi border. All those living within this area will have their land confiscated. Under Iranian law, no challenge can be made to the confiscation, only to the amount of compensation offered, which in other schemes is reported to have been as little as one fortieth of the market value.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing said in an interview following his visit to Iran in July 2005:

... when you visit Ahwaz ... there are thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections ... why is that? Why have certain groups not benefited? ... Again in Khuzestan, ... we drove outside the city about 20 km and we visited the areas where large development projects are coming up - sugar cane plantations and other projects along the river - and the estimate we received is that between 200,000 - 250,000 Arab people are being displaced from their villages because of these projects. And the question that comes up in my mind is, why is it that these projects are placed directly on the lands that have been homes for these people for generations? I asked the officials, I asked the people we were with. And there is other land in Khuzestan where projects could have been placed which would have minimised the displacement.


He also referred to attempts by the government to transfer non-Arabs into the area, as in the case of Shirinshah, a new town mainly populated by non-Arab inhabitants from Yazd province, and highlighted the discrepancy between the wealth generated from the oil resources of Khuzestan and the very deprived Arab neighbourhoods he saw.

Use of force: Since President Ahmadinejad's election, several people have been killed and scores injured by security forces possibly using excessive force, in the context of ongoing violent unrest in Khuzestan Province. This began in April 2005 and has included bomb explosions in Ahwaz city in October 2005 and January 2006 which killed at least 12 people and injured hundreds, and attacks on the economically important oil installations in September and October 2005. The Iranian authorities have accused the United Kingdom (UK) government of involvement in the blasts, which the UK has denied.

In mid-September 2005, Iranian security forces were reported to have used live ammunition, tear gas and beatings with batons to suppress stone-throwing demonstrators. At least two people were reported killed and many injured. The authorities were later reported to have cut off the water supplies to some villages of the al-Bughobeysh tribe, possibly in reprisal for the inhabitants having participated in the demonstrations.

On 4 November 2005, Id al-Fitr, possibly partly in protest at earlier arrests (see below), several hundred Arab Iranian demonstrators began marching towards the centre of Ahwaz city, where they met Iranian security forces. Scuffles may have broken out. Iranian security forces reportedly fired tear gas grenades at the crowd. Two Arab youths affected by the tear gas, which is said to have caused a temporary paralysis, reportedly drowned after falling into the Karoun River. Scores, if not hundreds, of demonstrators were arrested. Amnesty International wrote to the Iranian authorities urging that these deaths be investigated, and asking for clarification of the rules governing the use of force and firearms by Iranian law enforcement officials and whether in this instance there were attempts made to disperse the crowd by non-violent means and whether the crowd was warned before tear-gas was used. By early February 2006, no reply had been received.

At least three men were reported killed, and around 40 injured, on 11 and 12 January 2006 in clashes in Khuzestan between Iranian security forces and members of the Arab Ahwazi community. The clashes followed an initially peaceful demonstration on ‘Id al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice. The demonstrators were reportedly demanding an end to Arab persecution, poverty and unemployment, and the release of political prisoners arrested since April 2005.

Detention: Hundreds of Arabs have been arrested since President Ahmadinejad's election and many are feared to have been tortured or ill-treated. The prisons in Khuzestan province, and particularly the capital Ahwaz, are reported to be extremely overcrowded as a result of the large numbers of arrests. One ex-detainee is said to have estimated that during his time in detention, there may have been over 3,000 prisoners held in Karoun Prison, reportedly designed to accommodate about 800 and that the cells were so crowded that detainees were forced to sleep in shifts, as there was insufficient space for them all to lie down at once. This degree of over-crowding reportedly led to extremely unsanitary conditions. Children as young as 12 are reported to have been detained with adult prisoners. Some of those detained are believed to have been sentenced to imprisonment or death after grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts.

Of those reported detained since the election of President Ahmadinejad, Amnesty International has received the names of over 250. Some illustrative cases are outlined below.

In August, Hajj Salem Bawi, an Arab tribal leader and businessman, his five sons, nephew and two other members of his extended family were detained. Hajj Salem Bawi was later released, but two of his sons, Imad and Zamel, were reportedly sentenced to death in October 2005. The precise charges of which they were convicted are not known to Amnesty International. Hajj Salem Bawi reported after his release that he had met three of his sons in Amaniya prison in Ahwaz city and could see that they had been ill-treated or tortured in detention. By December 2005, none of those still held were known to have had access to lawyers or their families.

Hamid Gate'Pour, the manager of education in Area 2 of Ahwaz city, was arrested on or around 15 September 2005 in Area 2 of Ahwaz city. Mohammad Hezbawi, the editor of Hamsaye, a regional newspaper, was arrested on 18 September 2005, possibly in connection with an article he had published about the arrest of Hamid Gate'pour, and released after several days.

At least 81 people were arrested on 3 November 2005 during the week preceding the end of Ramadan, Id al-Fitr, whilst attending an Arab cultural gathering called Mahabis which traditionally takes place during the iftar (breaking of the fast). Those arrested included Zahra Nasser-Torfi, director of the Ahwaz al-Amjad cultural centre who was reportedly tortured in detention; Hamid Haydari, a poet; and six members of the same family: Mohammad Mojadam, Hamid Mojadam, Mehdi Mojadam, Rasoul Mojadam, Khaled Bani-Saleh and Hassan Naisi. On 14 November 2005 a number of those people were reportedly released on bail to await trial, including Zahra Nasser-Torfi.

Scores of people, including at least three children, were arrested on 11 January 2006 following clashes with security forces following an initially peaceful demonstration (see above), led by Sheikh Saleh al-Haydari, the Imam (prayer leader) of Da'ira mosque in Ahwaz. He was among those detained and reportedly began a hunger strike on 25 January 2006 to protest at his detention. The next day, 12 January 2006, scores more were detained in the city of Hamidiya, after a demonstration against the arrests which had taken place the previous day.

Amnesty International is concerned about the violation of economic, social and cultural rights of persons belonging to minorities in Iran. Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as well as to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which require the immediate prohibition, and steps towards the elimination of discrimination against minorities, in the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to free choice of employment, to housing, to education, to equal participation in cultural activities and to social services. Reports of huge disparities between minority communities and majority groups in literacy, access to education, basic services such as adequate water supplies, sanitation and electricity, as well as reports of "land grabbing" which appears to target minority communities, all suggest that Iran is failing to comply with these international obligations.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated in paragraph 14 its concluding observations in 2004: "The Committee takes note with concern of the reported discrimination faced by certain minorities, including the Baha'is, who are deprived of certain rights, and that certain provisions of the State party's legislation appear to be discriminatory on both ethnic and religious grounds.

The Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights has stated in relation to Article 11(1) of the ICESCR, which provides the right to adequate housing, that forced evictions from a place of habitual residence without consultation, due process or assurance of adequate alternative accommodation are prohibited. The Human Rights Committee (HRC), has stated in relation to Article 12(3) of the ICCPR: "the right to reside in a place of one's choice within the territory includes protection against all forms of forced internal displacement It also precludes preventing the entry or stay of persons in a defined part of the territory."

Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian government to take urgent, concrete measures to address the longstanding pattern of human rights violations and to ensure that all the fundamental human rights of all persons in Iran are protected irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religious faith or other such defining characteristics. In particular, Amnesty International urges the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take the following steps:

- End any policy of deliberate land expropriation or population transfer aimed at dispossessing minority populations from their traditional lands;

- Cease any practice of forced evictions: that is evicting people from land or housing without consultation, due process of law, and assurances of adequate alternative accommodation;

- Cease forced internal displacement linked to forced evictions and "land grabbing";

- Take immediate steps towards the elimination of de facto discrimination in the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights such as rights to education, adequate housing, water and sanitation as well as in access to utilities such as electricity adopting special measures, such as multilingual education, as necessary.
Iran Revolutionary Guards commander: no plan for invasion

Iran Revolutionary Guards commander: no plan for invasion

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards General Rahim Safavi has stated on Iranian television that he does not believe that the US is planning a military offensive against Iran.

In recent weeks, some Western journalists have claimed that the US and British governments are plotting to invade Iran via the Ahwazi Arab majority province of Khuzestan. In a recent article entitled "The Next War: Crossing the Rubicon", British-Australian journalist John Pilger claims that "Pentagon has no plans to occupy all of Iran, it has in its sights a strip of land that runs along the border with Iraq. This is Khuzestan, home to 90 per cent of Iran's oil." His "evidence" consists of an editorial in Beirut's Daily Star newspaper and claims by the Iranian regime of British involvement in the Ahwaz bombings, although no proof has been published. Others have even argued that the Ahwazi rights movement is being supported by Western governments as a vanguard for an offensive to capture Khuzestan's oil wealth.

Safavi said that "currently there is no military threat against our country," and accused the US of running a psychological war on the issue of Iran's nuclear programme. He did not mention Khuzestan, indicating that the regime did not believe that the province was an issue in the context of US policy towards Iran. His statement undermines conspiracy theories that suggest a link between the Ahwazi movement to invasion plans.

However, the regime continues to maintain that the British are fomenting ethnic unrest among Ahwazis to threaten its hold on power. This claim is denied by Ahwazi groups who state that land confiscation, human rights abuses, social inequality and cultural repression are the principle causes of anti-government demonstrations. Several leading Ahwazi groups have condemned all forms of political violence in Khuzestan.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "In parts of the Western media there have been concerted efforts to malign the Ahwazi movement. The legitimate Ahwazi rights movement has been portrayed as a tool of some nefarious plan to conquer Iran. Not even the most hard-line elements within the regime, such as Safavi, are seriously considering the notion that the Ahwazis are part of an invasion plan, even if they do claim the unrest is inspired by the British - a claim that is without foundation.

"Such groundless conspiracy theories alienate and insult the Ahwazis, who represent a popular democratic force in Iran. The Ahwazis don't need the British to tell them when to stand up for their rights. They don't need the British to train them how to wear keffiyeh. Ahwazis are not dogs that perform tricks for foreign masters.

"It is time to listen to the Ahwazi voice of reason instead of conspiracy theorists who effectively act as cheerleaders for state terrorism. Progressives across the world have to ask themselves whether they wish to sacrifice their principles on the basis of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' or support the democratic struggle against a right-wing militaristic racist and theocratic regime. Sacrificing principles would be an act of betrayal against the poor and oppressed, such as the Ahwazi Arabs.

"Are the Ahwazis less worthy of support than the Palestinians simply because they are oppressed by a government that is hostile towards the US?"
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings

Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings

Seven people have been sentenced in relation to the bomb attacks in Ahwaz in January, according to reports in the Iranian media.

Little is known of the seven that have been sentenced or the 38 others still awaiting trial as court proceedings for political crimes are usually carried out in secret. An Iranian official claimed that the men were convicted of "murder, war against God and being corrupt on the earth." These crimes carry the death penalty.

Nine people died in the bombings and at least 40 were injured. The authorities have claimed that the British were directly responsible, but have yet to publish evidence of a link. Previous bombings have also been blamed on the British, although the Iranian regime has been reluctant to take any retaliatory measures or prove a link with alleged bombers. The British government has denied the allegations. The regime has also failed to present the British government a list of Ahwazi exiles for extradition to face trial, which it had threatened to do after the October bombings in Ahwaz.

One relatively unknown Canada-based group which has little influence within the Ahwazi community has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including the explosions in January. It is impossible to verify their claims and the Iranian regime has not singled out any Ahwazi movement for responsibility.

A statement signed by a number of Ahwazi groups, including the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz and the National United Movement of Al-Ahwaz, condemned all forms of political violence following the January attacks. The statement, which was also signed by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society and supported by the Balochistan Peoples Party (BPP) and the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI), can be downloaded by clicking here.
Appeal: donate to Al-Ahwaz TV

Appeal: donate to Al-Ahwaz TV

Message from Nasser Bani Assad, British Ahwazi Friendship Society:

Al-Ahwaz TV is the main form of communication between the Ahwazi Arabs and the outside world. Since it was set up two years ago, Al-Ahwaz TV has gone from strength to strength and become a vanguard for resistance to the mullahs.

With its motto "fight without violence, resist without hate", Al-Ahwaz TV is instrumental in supporting Ahwazi Arab opposition to the Iranian regime. The TV station is broadcast directly to Al-Ahwaz via satellite on the Assyrian TV channel.

Since Al-Ahwaz TV went on air in 2004, Ahwazis have led anti-government protests in Iran. The protests have been wedded to the principle of non-violent resistance, with the only casualties being unarmed protestors from the slums and villages who bravely face one of the world's most heavily armed and tyrannical states. Although many Ahwazi Arabs have been thrown out of their homes and had their lands stolen, they refuse to be humiliated or display allegiance to their oppressors and will continue to resist.

Ahwazi resistance has come in the form of simply wearing the keffiyeh, staging traditional Arabic plays, praying in public and blocking traffic. All these actions have been punished with lethal violence by the Iranian regime.

The mass mobilisation in Al-Ahwaz has strengthened in recent weeks, but sadly has had a heavy toll on the Ahwazi people. Elderly women have been filmed pleading for justice for their sons who are languishing in prison, only to be fired upon by armed policemen. Brave young men armed with nothing more than words and rocks have been shot dead in the streets and children as young as 11 have been rounded up and imprisoned, while Ahwazi tribal leaders, imams, intellectuals, teachers and journalists fear for their lives.

However, witnessing civil resistance on television has helped unite the Ahwazi Arabs and strengthen their resolve. Al-Ahwaz TV is central to this resistance. It is thanks to the team of dedicated and tireless volunteers who staff Al-Ahwaz TV that the resistance is kept alive in the hope of eventual freedom, democracy and justice for the Ahwazi people and the whole of Iran.

Two weeks ago, Al-Ahwaz TV went on-line with the assistance of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS). Since then, we have had thousands of video downloads, many of them from inside Iran. Ahwazis are evading the censors and listening to the message of non-violent resistance to the racist theocracy that oppresses them. They are also responding with positive feedback in emails and phone calls to Al-Ahwaz TV and are sending undercover film footage to be broadcast to the rest of the Ahwazi population.

Al-Ahwaz TV and BAFS receive no grants and we do not seek sponsorship from governments or corporations. We are proud of our political independence and the fact that we are part of a grass-roots movement that is being led by those brave men and women of all ages and backgrounds who hunger for freedom and thirst for justice.

YOU can be a part of this revolution.

Please donate to Al-Ahwaz TV!

All donations go towards the training of Ahwazi journalists, equipment purchases, satellite transmission to Al-Ahwaz and premises. No-one takes a salary or any personal payment and running costs are kept to a minimum.

You can give on-line via http://www.ahwazmedia.tv/donor.html

Please give generously for the sake of life, liberty and peace in Al-Ahwaz!

Alternatively, email info(a)ahwaz. org. uk for alternative ways of donating to Al-Ahwaz TV.

Ahwaz MP warns Iran oil minister of impeachment

Ahwaz MP warns Iran oil minister of impeachment

Majid Naasseri-Nejad, a member of parliament representing the Arab populated area of Fallahieah (Shadegan), called on Iran's Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh to ensure equitable employment practices in the oil-rich Arab-majority province of Khuzestan or face impeachment, according to reports.

Naasseri-Nejad claimed that the Oil Ministry had been placing recruitment advertisements in Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tehran and other cities and provinces, but was not actively recruiting from the local Arab population. Some Arab districts are enduring unemployment rates of up to 90 per cent, he claimed.

The practice of moving non-Arabs into the area to fill job vacancies is highly controversial among the impoverished local Ahwazi Arabs. Discriminatory employment practices are rooted in the government's long-term programme of reducing the proportion of Arabs in the province from 70 per cent to around a third through "ethnic restructuring". This was outlined in a top-secret letter written by the then Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi which was leaked last year. The Abtahi letter led to an Ahwazi uprising that was crushed by the regime, killing more than 160 people.

Last month, Portuguese Socialist MEP Paulo Casaca, who heads the European Parliament's delegation to NATO, condemned the Iranian government's policies in Khuzestan as "ethnic cleansing".

Links
Abtahi's secret letter on ethnic restructuring
Paulo Casaca's condemnation of ethnic cleansing against Ahwazis - BAFS, 19 January
Bomb explosion at Chamran University, Ahwaz

Bomb explosion at Chamran University, Ahwaz

A bomb exploded at Chamran University in Ahwaz on Tuesday, according to Al-Arabiyeh TV. Chamran University has been a source of controversy for many Ahwazi Arabs. Although 75 per cent of Ahwaz City is Arab, the proportion of Arab university students is little more than 6 per cent. This ratio has remained the same over the past two decades due to discriminatory practices in higher education.
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz

Iran increases repression in Ahwaz

The Iranian regime's campaign of political repression against Ahwazi Arabs has intensified.

The Deputy Governor of Khuzestan, Mohsen Farokhinejad, claimed that a further 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the 26 January bombings in Ahwaz, according to the Hamsaieaha newspaper.

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received the names of seven more of those arrested, in addition to the 40 reported previously. These are:
Hassan Telali son of Mansour
Said Naderi son of Hanshool
Hadi Jalali son of Ghasem
Abdolah Obeidawi son of Haj Rahim
Haj Hossein Obeidawi (teacher)
Hamid Hamidawi (65 years old)
Jamal Obeidi son of Naji

Amnesty International has also sent an urgent action regarding the incarceration of children and imams by the regime. Click here for further details.
According to the Hamsaieaha newspaper, Ahmadinejad signed legislation to give more powers to security forces and militias to clamp down on protests by Ahwazi Arabs. This is in response to demands by the Basij, a quasi-military vigilante group loyal to Iran's mullahs, for sweeping powers to deal "more harshly" against "Arab separatists" in Ahwaz. Basijis have been firebombing Arab-owned businesses. Two weeks ago, a store by owned by Arab businessman Rahim Chaldawi was attacked with hand grenades and fire bombs thrown by Basijis.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government is relocating members of the non-Arab Bakhtiari and Ghashghaei tribes from outside Khuzestan onto land confiscated from Arabs. They have been provided with free land, tractors and cattle as well as cash and credit schemes not available to Arabs. The regime has a long-term goal to ethnically restructure Khuzestan to reduce the proportion of the Arab population from 70 per cent to around a third through forced out-migration of Arabs and enticement of non-Arabs from outside the province. Click here for further information.
Iran: Don't forget human rights and poverty

Iran: Don't forget human rights and poverty

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) Arab rights lobbying group has called on the international community to put human rights abuse and economic mismanagement at the top of relations with Iran.

Opposition groups feel that Iran's deteriorating domestic situation has been neglected due to the controversies surrounding the nuclear issue. The first few months of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration have seen a rise in human rights abuses, while the problems associated with high levels of poverty go unaddressed. However, this is occurring with little or no criticism.

The situation facing the Ahwazi Arabs is particularly bad. Since Ahmadinejad's election last June, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation have recorded the imprisonment of a large number of peaceful pro-democracy activists, including tribal leaders, imams journalists and teachers (see www.ahwaz.org.uk/reports.html). Traditional Arabic dress has also been banned following mass public prayers in Ahwaz by Arabs wearing the kuffiyeh in a sign of their resistance to ethnic oppression.

In its latest urgent action, Amnesty International has highlighted the incarceration of two children - 11-year-old Reza Haidari and 14-year-old Kazem Sayahi - following demonstrations during Eid-al-Adha in January. The organisation fears that they, along with scores of other Ahwazi Arabs held in custody, could be facing torture at the hands of Iranian security officials.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "Iranians would rather have the huge resources spent on the nuclear programme directed towards poverty alleviation. The Ahwazi Arabs feel particularly aggrieved as the oil revenues generated by land confiscated from them are being squandered on this project. In contrast, legislation to redistribute just a fraction of these revenues to Khuzestan was overturned for a third time in January.

"The regime is building a nuclear plant in earthquake-prone Khuzestan. A containment failure in the event of a natural disaster would devastate not only the Ahwazi homeland but also Kuwait and parts of Iraq. This nuclear facility comes at the expense of Ahwazi Arabs' security and economic well-being.

"Experts say it will be years before Iran can develop nuclear weapons, if that is the regime's intention. But the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs from their homeland and their deliberate impoverishment by the regime is happening today. It is an emergency situation that is being eclipsed by the nuclear issue. The international community should not abandon those oppressed by the Iranian government.

"Only a federal democratic Iran that respects human rights can ensure long-term stability and security in the Middle East and prosperity for the people. This is what many Iranians, particularly Ahwazi Arabs, are demanding."
Ahwazi children in Iran's custody at risk of torture: Amnesty

Ahwazi children in Iran's custody at risk of torture: Amnesty

Amnesty International has issued an urgent action appeal on behalf of scores of Ahwazi Arabs, including children, arrested during the Eid-al-Adha protests in Ahwaz City on 11 January.

The leading human rights organisation listed the names of seven of those arrested and being held in custody. Five of those listed by Amnesty are under the age of 21, including an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old. The other two are imams Saleh 'Abidawi and Sheikh Saleh al-Haidari. Amnesty states that they are among scores of those arrested following demonstrations "demanding an end to the persecution of Arabs, poverty and unemployment among Arabs, and the release of political prisoners arrested following unrest in Khuzestan province which began in April 2005." The group says that those arrested could be at risk of torture. It has also highlighted reports on Sheikh al-Haidari's hunger strike, which were originally published by the Mohammara News Agency (MONA).

Amnesty says it has received reports of three killings of demonstrators by security forces. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has a list of five names of those killed, but the number could be higher.

Links
Amnesty International Urgent Action - 1 February
Liberty or Death for Ahwaz Imam on Hunger Strike - BAFS report, 29 January
Photos of two Ahwazis martyred by Iran - BAFS report, 26 January
Iran: More arrests in Ahwaz - BAFS report, 20 January
Iran authorities arrest hundreds and shoot demonstrators in Ahwaz - BAFS report, 17 January
Iran's crack-down as Ahwaz Eid protests continue - BAFS report, 13 January
Iran security forces attack Ahwazi anti-government protest - BAFS report, 12 January