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Iran: Amnesty International Concern Over Death Sentences

The world's leading human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has lodged an appeal on behalf of nine Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to death.

The men have reportedly been convicted of carrying out bomb attacks in Ahwaz in October 2005, although Amnesty says the exact charges are unclear. There is confusion over the convictions as the trials are held in secret religious courts that are not usually open to the public. Government officials have also given conflicting statements on whether the nine men have been convicted in relation to the bombings. The Ministry of Justice claims that 45 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings, but statements by other officials suggest that the number could be higher.

Seven of the men have already been shown "confessing" on Khuzestan TV and have been convicted of "waging war on God, corruption on the earth and murder", according to some government officials, These crimes carry the death penalty, either by hanging or crucifixion.

Earlier this month, two Ahwazi Arabs - Mehdi Nawaseri and Muhammad-Ali Afrawi - were executed in a street in Ahwaz City after their "confessions" were read out on Khuzestan TV. Muhammad-Ali Afrawi's father, Dr Awdeh Afrawi, 52, is among those listed in Amnesty's appeal. He is a respected psychologist at Ahwaz's Shahid Chamran hospital, although the Iranian regime insists that he is a terrorist working on behalf of the British government. He was arrested shortly after the October 2005 bombings. Muhammad-Ali's sister was murdered by the security services during demonstrations that followed the executions.

Amnesty is concerned that Aliredha Salman Delfi, Ali Manbouhi, Jaafar Sawari, Ali Helfi, Nazem Burehi and Risan Sawari could also face execution in relation to the October 2005 bombings. However, Ali Manbouhi, Ali Helfi and Nazem Bureihi have been in custody since 2000, when they were arrested on charges of "insurgency" and each sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment. They were featured in the "confessions" footage on Khuzestan TV. Risan Sawari was previously arrested in April 2005, but then released and re-arrested in September 2005 - a month before the bombings. Jaafar Sawari and Aliredha Salman Delfi were also reportedly arrested in September 2005. Moslem al-Ha'i was mentioned during the "confessions" as a participant in the bombings, but it is not known when he was arrested, according to Amnesty.

The latest urgent action is the tenth issued by Amnesty on behalf of Ahwazi Arabs since last April's Arab intifada in Ahwaz.

Links:
Latest Amnesty International report on Ahwazis facing execution
Executed: Young Ahwazi Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - British Ahwazi Friendship Society, 2 March 2006
Iran Slammed for 'Barbarian' Treatment of Ahwazi Arabs - British Ahwazi Friendship Society, 13 March 2006