Call to Iran: Release Ahwazi Women and Children
Ahwazi activists are continuing to press for the release of 28-year-old Masouma Kaabi, her four-year-old son Aimad and her mother-in-law from prison. The women and baby have been imprisoned to punish Ahwazi political activist Habib Nabgani, Masouma's husband and Aimad's father, but Aimad is reported to have fallen ill due to poor prison conditions.
Human rights activists are also concerned about the well-being of 40-year-old Sakina Naisi, an imprisoned pregnant Ahwazi woman who appears to have suffered a miscarriage as a result of her treatment in prison. Her life is at risk as she is reportedly receiving little or no medical treatment.
There have been a number of other reports of children under 16 as well as women being held in prison by the regime. The imprisonment of women and children is a tactic used by the regime to silence opposition among Ahwazi Arabs, who have staged a number of large anti-government demonstrations since last April's intifada when the regime lost control over parts of Khuzestan province.
Executions of Ahwazis have also risen, accompanied by forced confessions broadcast on the provincial television channel. Last week, two Ahwazi Arabs - Mehdi Nawaseri and Muhammad-Ali Afrawi - were publically hung in Ahwaz City accused of being responsible for bomb attacks in Ahwaz (click here for further information). The regime claimed they were Sunni extremists working for the British. Basiji militants loyal to the ruling mullahs chanted "Death to Israel! Death to America!" while watching the executions. The executions were followed by a bomb attack in the Kianpars district of Ahwaz City and rioting in the Hay Althwra (Shilangabad), Hay Zerghan, Zowyeh, Malasheyah and Koot Abdoula districts. Three other Ahwazis were executed in Karoon Prison two days previously.
The hangings were condemned by a number of human rights organisations, including the Arab Commission for Human Rights. Non-governmental organisations also criticised the men's trials, which they say failed to meet minimum international standards. Amnesty International, which opposes the death penalty, had led a campaign to prevent the men's execution.
The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has obtained exclusive pictures of Masouma and Aimad (above) and is distributing them to the United Nations, European Commission and British parliament to attract international attention to human rights abuses against Ahwazi Arabs.
BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The EU and UN should send investigators to Al-Ahwaz immediately to assess the situation there. We believe that the UNCHR should refer Iran to the UN Security Council over the gross human rights violations and ethnic cleansing suffered by the Ahwazi Arabs. It is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue and the UN Convention on Human Rights must be upheld."