The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received reports that Nazem Boraihi and other Ahwazis sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Courts in Ahwaz have had their sentences over-turned by the Diwan Aali Kol Keshwar (High Bureau for Justice) in Tehran.
Boraihi is one of 16 Ahwazis sentenced to death for allegedly participating in bomb attacks in Ahwaz in 2005. Serious doubts have been raised over the conduct of the trials by human rights campaigners inside Iran, international NGOs and Ahwazi activists in exile. Boraihi has been in prison since 2000 serving a lengthy jail term for peaceful opposition activities. His trial, conviction and death sentence are widely seen as an act of political retribution against Ahwazis. An unknown number of other Ahwazis convicted at the same time as Boraihi are also believed to have had their death sentences over-turned.
Amnesty International, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation and BAFS have campaigned for a retrial for Ahwazis convicted of "waging war on God" based on international standards of justice. The campaign was boosted by one of Iran's leading human rights advocates, Emad Baghi, who appealed to the high bureau of justice to commute the death sentences, raising concerns about the conduct of the trials (click here for more information). The European Commission was also intensively lobbied by Ahwazis and their supporters. In response to a recent letter to Portuguese Socialist MEP Paulo Casaca regarding the Ahwazis on death row, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed concern over the treatment of minorities and the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. Solana pledged to raise the issue of human rights violations against minorities with the Iranian regime.
BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "Pragmatists within the Iranian establishment have decided that the execution of Ahwazis is more trouble that it is worth. While Boraihi and maybe some others appear to have had their death sentences commuted, they are still victims of a grotesque miscarriage of justice. We will not stop campaigning until the hundreds of Ahwazi political prisoners are released from Iranian custody."