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Ahwazi Women at United Nations

The following is an excerpt from a statement by Makhale Tshifhiwa on behalf of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and in association with Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO) at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (15 – 26 May 2006)under Item 4 c) Ongoing priorities and themes: "Indigenous Children, Youth and Women":

Ahwazi women are not only being denied these basic rights and experiencing a lack of space opportunity to conduct peaceful political activities an atmosphere conducive to positive change, but also, following recent episodes, they fear being arrested without charge and held in detention with no access to legal assistance. Instances during the last months and weeks, reported by several human rights organizations, clearly demonstrate the violation of the basic rights of indigenous Ahwazi women and their children. A number of Ahwazi women, among them some pregnant and with their children, have been held for longer periods without access to legal aid or due process. So far, the health of Ms. Sakina Naisi is in danger after harsh treatment led to forced abortion. Ms. Hawashem is still being detained along with her two children. Ms. Masouma Kaabi was also arrested with her child Imad, and Ms. Soghra Khuddayrawai imprisoned along with her son Zeydan. Furthermore, Ms. Fahima Isma'ili recently gave birth to her child Sal'ma whilst held in detention. It is essential to note that the arrested women were all wives and relatives of politically active men.

On behalf of UNPO I express concern at how these indigenous women have suffered ill-treatment and been held unlawfully with their children in custody. We appeal to the Permanent Forum to urge Iran to develop specific non-discriminatory policies towards women; to enhance the situation of women in Iran and in particular indigenous Ahwazi women; to provide and ensure that their basic rights are respected and that these women do not suffer the arbitrary arrest and detention based on the activities of their husbands; that women and men alike are free to voice political dissent when expressed through non-violent and legitimate means; Whilst we appeal for the urgent release of indigenous women, we call upon the Permanent Forum to gather data and information about the situation of indigenous women in Khuzestan and the larger region; and to distribute this information to lay the basis for further recommendations for the authorities in Iran.