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.
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