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Ahwazi Arabs arrested in Syria on Iran's request

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information in Syria has revealed that Ahwazis were arrested by Syrian intelligence services on Thursday afternoon, although the charges against them are unknown. have been arrested with unknown reason in Syria on Thursday 11/5/06 afternoon.

The arrested include:



  • Mousa Sawari - English Literature student at Damascus University, 32 years old, single
  • Issa Alyassin - English Literature student at Damascus University, 30 years old, married
  • Gamal Obaidy -Politics student at Damascus University, 34 years old, single, Chair of Ahwazi Student Union in Syria
  • Ahmad Abiat - father's name: Abdul Jabbar, 20 years old, Student of Arabic literature at Damascus University)
  • Taher Ali Mazraeh: married, 40 years old, father's name Ali




The men are all registered as refugees with the UNHCR's office in Syria and were waiting to be transferred to the EU or Canada. Of those arrested, only Mazraeh is known to be a member of the Al-Ahwaz Arab Peoples Democratic Popular Front (ADPF), a group which Iran has previously accused of carrying out bomb attacks in Ahwaz. However, the organisation is not affiliated to the groups that have claimed responsibility for attacks and has not advocated armed struggle. Ahwazi activists fear that if the men are deported to Iran, they are likely to be put on trial and executed. Any deportation would constitute a breach of the Geneva Refugee Convention by the Syrian government.

Syria has a large Ahwazi Arab community, which includes many political refugees. However, the new alliance between Syria and Iran has prompted Syrian security services to intimidate opponents of the regime in the Ahwazi community. Ahwazi refugees were arrested in Syria in April last year, but were quickly released without charge (click here for report).

Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in August, Iran has taken an increasingly aggressive stance towards dissidents in neighbouring countries. In April, Ahwazi opposition politician Ra'ad De'ayer Al-Bestan Banitorfi was kidnapped by Iranian-backed militias in Basra, Iraq, and murdered. Ahwazi dissidents in Kuwait and the UAE have also reported death threats by Iranian agents.