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Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Iran: Jailed Ahwazi journalist appeals to EU chief

Iran: Jailed Ahwazi journalist appeals to EU chief

Ahwazi Arab journalist Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya has sent a letter to the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, smuggled from Evin Prison where he is being held and delivered to Solana by the Human Rights Activists in Iran group. Fallahiya was a correspondent for the Iranian government-owned Al-Alam Arabic language satellite news network and has worked for a number of other news agencies. The letter is dated 11 October 2007.

Your Excellency, Mr. Javier Solana,

I am pleased and honoured to send this letter to you. I am an innocent man and am behind bars in an Iranian prison for my published articles and journalism. What national security did I put at risk by my journalism?

Your Excellency,

It takes a long time to talk about the problems experienced by our Arab people in Al-Ahwaz which is located in south Iran. These people are starving although the land is fertile; people are dying of third, although there are ample rivers. My homeland's prisons are full of prisoners demanding their legitimate national rights; the mouths of these people's relatives are shut over due to the fear of the executioner; and my homeland's gallows are full of hanged heads.

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security,

As you have close relationship with the Iranian government and Iranian politicians, and as you represent the countries which include the oldest democracies and which demand human rights throughout the world, I appeal to you to take my concerns seriously. As I am being handcuffed and have no power and strength, I see with my own eyes that how human rights have been violated and freedom of expression is absent and so forth.

Mr. Solana, after more than 10 months since my arrest, my family has been dispersed to different regions and countries. My rights as a journalist have been breached and I have been denied a solicitor. I have been charged with unfounded allegations without any evidence or justification.

I demand you to pursue not only my personal case, but the people who demand their legitimate national rights which are enshrined in international law

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security,

Usually journalists are honoured of being the fourth authority in their countries, in developed countries, but in third world countries including Iran they are regrettably treated as a paid mercenary.

Mr Solana,

At conclusion of my appeal, I believe it is significant to raise the issues of national [ethnic] and religious persecution in Iran as it is your humanitarian duty ... and consider my case as a prisoner who demands his people's rights and take action for my release and the realse of all Ahwazi political detainees ...

With many thanks,

Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya

A prisoner of Evin prison.

Iran: Bomb defused in Ahwaz

Iran: Bomb defused in Ahwaz

A time-bomb planted in public toilets in Ahwaz City was defused on Saturday, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

Local security chief Rahim Heidari said the bomb was discovered in Taleqani Square at 10.50am and security services were hunting the culprits. He said the aim of the attempted bomb attack was unclear.

At least 15 Ahwazi Arabs have been executed in relation to bomb attacks in Ahwaz City, although Iranian and international human rights organisations and UN human rights experts have criticised their trials as flawed. The Iranian government and its supporters in the West have repeatedly claimed that the US, British and Israeli governments are responsible for ethnic unrest among the persecuted Ahwazi Arabs.
Amnesty condemns executions in Iran

Amnesty condemns executions in Iran

The following is an excerpt concerning the imminent execution of six Ahwazi Arabs from an Amnesty International public statement on executions in Iran The report also details imminent executions of Kurds, women and children, including those accused of murder. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) this week appealed to UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour to intervene to prevent the execution of the six Ahwazis.

Amnesty International today expressed alarm at the new wave of executions in Iran and said that it has already recorded almost 250 executions since the beginning of 2007, although the true total of those put to death could be significantly higher [...]

Amnesty is gravely concerned at reports that six members of Iran's Arab minority are also at risk of imminent execution. According to their families, Rasool 'Ali Mezrea', 65, Hamza Sawari, 20, Zamel Bawi, 'Abdul-Imam Za'eri, Nazem Bureihi and Ahmad Marmazi, 35, all held in Karoun Prison, Khuzestan, have been moved to a cell reserved for those soon to be executed.

Rasool 'Ali Mezrea' is a member of the Ahwazi Liberation Organization (ALO) and is recognized as a refugee by the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and had been accepted for resettlement in a third country, but was forcibly returned to Iran from Syria on 16 May 2006.

Hamza Sawari, Zamel Bawi, 'Abdul-Imam Za'eri and Nazem Bureihi had their death sentences confirmed on 10 June 2006 by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, Khuzestan. At the end of July 2006 the Supreme Court upheld the sentences of Abdul-Imam Za'eri and Nazem Bureihi.

The five men have reportedly been accused of being "mohareb" (at enmity with God) which can carry the death penalty. Other charges include "destabilising the country," "attempting to overthrow the government," "possession of home made bombs," "sabotage of oil installations," and carrying out bombings in Ahvaz, which took place between June and October 2005 and caused the deaths of at least six people and wounded more than a hundred others.

Nazem Bureihi has reportedly been in custody since 2000 having been arrested on charges of "insurgency". Though he was serving a 35 year prison sentence, he was among nine men shown on Khuzestan Provincial television on 1 March 2006, "confessing" to involvement in the October 2005 bombings.

Zamel Bawi was reportedly convicted of hiding seven home-made time bombs, which he allegedly defused before his arrest.

Amnesty International recognizes the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but opposes the death penalty as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The organisation is calling on the Iranian authorities to commute all death sentences with a view to establishing a moratorium.

In view of the irreversible nature of the death penalty, the organisation is once again urging Iran's judiciary to review all cases of those sentenced to death to ensure that the all international standards protecting the right to a fair trial were scrupulously observed in these cases.

In light of Amnesty International's long-standing concerns relating to the administration of justice in Iran, the organisation urges the judicial authorities to ensure that all safeguards and due process guarantees set out in international standards applicable during pre-trial, trial and appellate stages must be fully respected.

Amnesty International reminds the Iranian authorities that Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, states that the sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime, and that this means that crimes punishable by death should not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences and that all mitigating factors must be taken into account.
Amnesty: Baghi jailed by Iran for supporting Ahwazi Arab prisoners

Amnesty: Baghi jailed by Iran for supporting Ahwazi Arab prisoners

Amnesty International has condemned the imprisonment of leading Iranian human rights campaigner, Emaddedin Baghi, for denouncing the execution of Ahwazi Arabs, who he claimed were not given fair trials.

Baghi's lawyer told Amnesty that the charges against the prisoners' rights campaigner related to "media interviews and letters to the authorities regarding Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to death in connection with lethal bomb explosions in Khuzestan province." He was detained on 14 October when he attended a session before Branch 14 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The charges against him include meeting and colluding to commit offences against national security and propaganda against the system for the benefit of foreign and opposition groups.

In February, Emad Baghi issued his strongest condemnation of the Iranian regime's treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. In an article published in French on his website, Baghi stated that the regime itself is responsible for creating the conditions for ethnic Arab unrest, including bomb attacks in Ahwaz.

He reiterated his call for understanding of Arabs' plight, rather than executions, would help quell unrest and also restated his opposition to the death penalty. He said: "They are individuals who live on the black gold of the oil-bearing province of Khuzestan, but have only known poverty and misery. There are among them individuals who believed in the reform, who fought by peaceful means to assert their rights while trying to elect representatives to the municipal councils of their cities and to Parliament. These efforts were in vain, leading to despair.

"There came a feeling of political and social obstruction. Misery, scarcity, humiliation and despair can only generate one of two reactions: depression and passivity or aggressiveness. And what did we who owe our wellbeing with the oil revenue do? Would these attacks have taken place if we had not remained silent over these inequalities and denounced discrimination?"

He had previously suggested that the executions of Ahwazi Arabs would heighten and injure ethnic sensibilities and create more problems than they would solve (click here for more information).

During the Revolutionary Court hearing on 14 October, Baghi's lawyers were not allowed to attend the session with him. Although bail of 50 million Iranian Touman (US$53,619) was reportedly set for his release, when his family attempted to meet the bail, the judge apparently refused to accept it. Baghi's wife and daughter have also been sentenced to three years' imprisonment, suspended for five years, for their participation in a human rights conference held in the United Arab Emirates.

Amnesty International says it considers the charges against Emaddedin Baghi to be "politically motivated and aimed at silencing the human rights defender's criticism of the human rights situation in Iran. The organisation considers him a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release."

Amnesty has also appealed on behalf of women's rights activists, trade unionists and Kurdish rights activists. Click here to download the report.
IRAN: Ahwazis arrested amid accusations against BAFS

IRAN: Ahwazis arrested amid accusations against BAFS

The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has announced that it has arrested three Ahwazi Arabs alleged to be responsible for bomb attacks in Ahwaz City two years ago.

The men are accused of having links to "foreigners". The Iranian government claims to have confiscated three pistols, two Kalashnikov rifles and some 2,000 rounds of ammunition from the arrested individuals.

In the past year, 13 Ahwazi Arabs are known to have been executed in relation to bomb attacks in Ahwaz and a further 17 are at risk of execution. UN human rights experts have condemned the trials and called on Iran to halt the executions. However, the Iranian government has ignored the appeals and continued its execution campaign. Earlier this week, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) issued an appeal to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to intervene and prevent the imminent execution of six Ahwazis, including a UNHCR-registered refugee illegally deported to Iran from Syria and a son of Ahwazi tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi.

This week's arrests come after a news agency run by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Raja News, claimed that the British secret intelligence service had set up the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) to instigate ethnic unrest, in collaboration with Wahhabist (Sunni fundamentalist) groups (click here to view the article). The regime has repeatedly accused the British government of involvement in bombings and assassinations in the Arab region bordering Iraq, but has failed to provide any evidence to support its allegations.

BAFS is a human rights and advocacy organisation that has denounced political violence and does not advocate separatism or any religious ideology. This month it help launch the Ahwazi Rights Declaration, which included the condemnation of violent and reactionary ideologies, calls for devolved powers for the region, ethnic equality in Iran and greater Arab representation in parliament and government. The Declaration also declares that "the Ahwazi issue should not be used as a pretext for foreign invasion and that the Ahwazi movement should not be used as part of a proxy war between Iran and its foreign enemies; the Ahwazi Arab civil rights movement should remain a genuine and legitimate expression of ethnic grievances and aspirations." (Click here to endorse the Declaration)

The Declaration has so far attracted signatures from a broad range of political activists as well as British Labour MP Chris Bryant and Portuguese Socialist Member of the European Parliament Paulo Casaca.
IRAN: Emaddedin Baghi, champion of Ahwazi prisoners, is imprisoned

IRAN: Emaddedin Baghi, champion of Ahwazi prisoners, is imprisoned

The Iranian regime has imprisoned the country's leading prisoners' rights activist, Emaddedin Baghi, on charges of spreading propaganda and publishing secret documents.

Baghi, who heads the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, had fought for fair trials for a number of Ahwazi Arab prisoners, who were executed over the past year on charges of "threatening national security" and "enmity with God".

A former journalist born into a family of religious clerics, Baghi has previously been imprisoned as a political prisoner. Since he was released in 2003 after serving a three-year jail term for criticising the government, Baghi has fought against the unconstititional and illegal judgements against political prisoners in Iran. He has called for an end to the death penalty in Iran, where at least 207 people have been executed for various crimes so far in 2007, on both criminal and political charges.

In February, Emad Baghi issued his strongest condemnation of the Iranian regime's treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. In an article published in French on his website, Baghi stated that the regime itself is responsible for creating the conditions for ethnic Arab unrest, including bomb attacks in Ahwaz.

He reiterated his call for understanding of Arabs' plight, rather than executions, would help quell unrest and also restated his opposition to the death penalty. He said: "They are individuals who live on the black gold of the oil-bearing province of Khuzestan, but have only known poverty and misery. There are among them individuals who believed in the reform, who fought by peaceful means to assert their rights while trying to elect representatives to the municipal councils of their cities and to Parliament. These efforts were in vain, leading to despair.

"There came a feeling of political and social obstruction. Misery, scarcity, humiliation and despair can only generate one of two reactions: depression and passivity or aggressiveness. And what did we who owe our wellbeing with the oil revenue do? Would these attacks have taken place if we had not remained silent over these inequalities and denounced discrimination?"

He had previously suggested that the executions of Ahwazi Arabs would heighten and injure ethnic sensibilities and create more problems than they would solve (click here for more information).
Iran: Ahwazis appeal against executions

Iran: Ahwazis appeal against executions

The following is an appeal by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation to Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in relation to the imminent execution of six Ahwazi Arabs.


We are writing to inform you of the imminent execution of six more ethnic Arab-Iranians (Ahwazi-Arabs) in Ahwaz, provincial capital of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran - homeland to 5 million Ahwazi-Arabs.[1] [2] The news of their impending executions has come from their families, the Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Amnesty International, the Human Rights & Democracy Activists group and from Mr. Musa Pirbani, Khuzestan's prosecutor. The planned executions are the latest in a series of executions. The most recent occurred on 10 September, when three Ahwazis were executed just days after your visit to Iran and on the first day of Ramadan.

The six men currently awaiting execution were moved to a cell in Karoon prison in Ahwaz reserved for imminent execution of prisoners, according to their families. Their names are as follows:

1. Rasoul Ali Mazrea (65), a UNHCR-registered refugee

2. Ahmad Marmazi, (35), resident of Mashur, married with 2 children

3. Hamzah Sawari, 20 years old

4. Zamel Bawi (son of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi)

5. Abdulemam Zaeri

6. Nazem Boryhi

Mr. Rasoul Mazrea, along with 4 other Ahwazis, was deported on May 2006 by the Syrian government to Iran. He is a mandate holding, UNHCR recognized political refugee. His family was resettled to Oslo, Norway, while he was extradited to Iran under pressure from the Iranian Government.

The charges against them include hoisting the Ahwazi flag, naming their children Sunni names, converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism, preaching Wahabbism and being "Mohareb" or enemies of god, which carries death sentence. Other charges are "destabilizing the country", "attempting to overthrow the government", "possession of improvised explosives", "sabotage of oil installations" and being a "threat to national security."

Last year, Mr. Emadeldin Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights activist, in a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, argued that the trials of Ahwazi Arabs were flawed, the charges baseless, and that the sentencing was based on a spurious interpretation of law and that no evidence has been presented.[3] Mr. Nkbakht, a prominent defense lawyer in Iran, made a similar statement. Others such as Presidency of the European Council, the UN general Assembly, 49 British MPs, the EU Parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned their trials as unjust and unfair and appealed for a halt to further execution.[4] [5] [6][7][8]

This new wave of execution is the latest in a series of barbaric hangings, designed to intimidate and terrorize the indigenous Ahwazi-Arab population into submission.

On 10 January 2007, independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Mr. Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture, issued a joint statement urging the Iranian Government to "stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing."[9] Despite that plea, on 14 February, 2007 Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children, Majad Albughbish, 30, single, were executed in Ahwaz by public hanging and a day later Mr. Risan Sawari, a 32 years old Ahwazi-Arab teacher was killed under torture in Karoon prison.

This is in addition to four executions on 24 January 2007 (Mohammad Chaabpour, Abdolamir Farjolah Chaab, Alireza Asakereh and Khalaf Khanafereh) and three on 19 December 2006 (Malek Banitamim, Abdullah Solaimani and Ali Matorizadeh). This brings the number of executions of Ahwazi Arab political and human rights activists in the past 9 months to at least 13.

The executions are in the context of a brutal clamp-down on Ahwazi Arabs protesting against ethnic discrimination and persecution. Although the Ahwazi Arab homeland in Iran's Khuzestan province is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world and represents up to 90 per cent of Iran's oil production, the community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Ahwazis are subjected to repression, racial discrimination and faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation.

We appeal to you to condemn the latest wave of execution and call upon Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of the others. We also appeal to you to call upon Iran to ensure due legal process in accordance with internationally recognized standards and to uphold its obligations with regard to civil and political rights, including the provision of equal rights to ethnic, religious and minority groups in Iran- such as the indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs.

For further information, please see a dossier of other human rights violations against indigenous and ethnic Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran: http://www.ahwazmedia.com/dossier.pdf



[1] http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article4711

[2] http://pejvakzendanyan.blogfa.com/post-108.aspx

[3] http://www.emadbaghi.com/en/archives/000761.php

[4] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/92611.pdf

[5] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130052007?open&of=ENG-IRN

[6] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130852006?open&of=ENG-392

[7] http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/11/11/iran14560.htm

[8] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/26/iran13609.htm

[9] http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2007/01/unhcr-iran-must-stop-executions-of.html

Iran: Imprisoned Journalist appeals to UN Secretary General

Iran: Imprisoned Journalist appeals to UN Secretary General

Imprisoned Ahwazi Arab journalist Hassan Fallahiya has sent the following letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon from Evin Prison in Iran. In May, Amnesty International declared him a "prisoner of conscience detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association" and has expressed concern that he is "at risk of torture or ill-treatment." It appealed for his release after he was given a three year prison term for criticising the government. He has been in prison since November 2006, including a period in the notorious Section 209, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence which uses it to torture political prisoners and conduct summary killings.

Mr Ban Ki-moon
As you know, Iran is a country composed of many nationalities, races, religions and doctrines. The Arabs are among these nationalities, living mainly in Khuzestan and Bushehr and some other are dispersed in different regions of Iran.
These people, along with other Iranian nationalities such as Kurds, Baluchis and Azaris, suffer high levels of oppression and deprivation. Although Arab-populated land provides 90% of the natural sources in Iran, the living conditions of these people are deteriorating from even the most basic levels.

In addition to these economic problemsm, these people are forbidden to use their mother tongue in schools, government departments or any other governmental institution. The local language cannot be used in communication and the media [...]

Mr Ban Ki-moon, you are aware that Iran's nuclear dossier is in a delicate and a very critical stage, but I believe that the problems facing the nations and religious minorities and ethnic minorities in Iran and Khuzestan are more important. In particular, the Mandeans, the religious minority who live in Khuzestan, are suffering deprivation like their Arab compatriots in Khuzestan.

I am a Khuzestani Arab journalist detained in Evin prison in Tehran, who was imprisoned because I defended the Arab nation. I demand that you give more attention to the Iranian nationalities and speak up on our behalf so that the world may acknowledge the adversities we suffer [...]

Mohammad Hassan Fallahyia
Iranian Arab journalist – Section 350 Evin prison
1st October 2007
Iran uses Hezbollah to break Ahwazi strike

Iran uses Hezbollah to break Ahwazi strike

The Iranian regime has deployed foreign militants, including members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, to break up the strike by over 2,000 workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar cane refinery.

The extremist Shia militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries where Iran has established terrorist organisations are being stationed at the local police station, under the direction of the Revolutionary Guards. The strike is now in its fifth day (click here for more information).

The workers, the majority of whom are Ahwazi Arabs, are protesting against months of unpaid wages, the lack of democratic trade union organisation and the effects of economic liberalisation on the sugar sector, which has led to an influx of cheap sugar imports that has devastated privately owned sugar producers. They have also demanded the resignation of the provincial governor; Khuzestan has seen frequent changes in the provincial governorship since the Ahwazi uprising in April 2005.

Earlier, a worker who wished to remain anonymous said: "Government forces have tried to prevent the protests but they have failed. The governor told the workers that the issue is out of his hands and that the security services will take action against the workers who he claims want a riot. This means that our demands for wages are regarded as an act of disorder and anyone who seek his rights he should be beaten. Are the workers slaves to work without payment?"

A protesting Ahwazi Arab worker told Radio Farda that "the Islamic Republic of Iran helps Palestine and Arab countries, how come they have money to help them but they don't to pay us?"
IRAN: AHWAZI DECLARATION CALLS FOR RIGHTS

IRAN: AHWAZI DECLARATION CALLS FOR RIGHTS

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has launched an Ahwazi Rights Declaration, following a consultation process with the Ahwazi Arab community. It sets out Ahwazi demands for self-determination, human rights, democracy, freedom of association, freedom of worship, women's rights, redistribution of oil wealth and peace in Iran. The Declaration will form the basis of lobbying and advocacy activity for Ahwazi Arab rights. Click here to sign the declaration.

- Having regard to Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution permitting "the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools."

- Having regard to Article 19 of the Iranian Constitution affirming that "all people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and colour, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege."

- Having regard to Article 26 of the Iranian Constitution affirming that "The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic."

- Having regard to Article 1 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights stating that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

- Having regard to Article 7 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights affirming that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."

- Having regard to Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran, affirming that "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

- Having regard to Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by Iran, condemning "racial segregation and apartheid" and commits state parties to "undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction."

- Having regard to Article 33(1) of the United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, declaring that "No Contracting State shall expel or return ("refouler") a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion," and Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

- Having regard to the UN General Assembly's resolution expressing serious concern about the human rights situation in Iran; [1]

- Having regard to the reports by Amnesty International on the arrest, incommunicado detention, use of torture and execution against Ahwazi Arab prominent journalists, lawyers, tribal leaders, students and human rights activists; [2] [3]

- Having regard to the Amnesty International's report acknowledging that 54 civilians who were killed during the April 2005 uprising in Ahwaz City. [4]

A. Whereas the human rights situation in Iran has systematically deteriorated in the last few years;

B. Whereas Iran continues to arrest, imprisonment and execution of Ahwazi Arab minority rights activists;

C. Whereas Iran systematically refused to provide information and engage in a dialogue with UN Special Rapporteurs on the continuing execution of Ahwazi Arabs, violating its obligations under the procedures of the Human Rights Council; [5]

D. Whereas breaches of human and minority rights in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) continue to be reported by non-governmental organisations, including the persecution of ethnic Arabs and the destruction of their homes and confiscation of their land;

E. Whereas in recent years Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) has witnessed a state-enforced change in ethnic composition through forced out-migration of Arabs to other provinces and in-migration of non-Arabs, as stated by UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari, which amounts to an ethnic cleansing policy; [6]

F. Whereas Arabs are denied employment under the gozinesh criteria; [7]

G. Whereas Ahwazi Arab refugees under the protection of the United Nations continue to be detained and illegally deported or extradited from Syria. [8] [9]

We the undersigned

1. Condemn racism, political violence and reactionary ideologies;

2. Condemn Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs on the grounds that collectively they represent a national security threat;

3. Call upon Iran to respect the cultural, linguistic and historical identity of the Arabs of Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz);

4. Call for an end to ethnically exclusive settlements in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz), including the use of separation barriers to segregate neighbourhoods by ethnicity;

5. Call upon Iran to allow Arab freedom of expression and association, with the full participation of Arab political parties in the electoral process, so long as they are peaceful and respect the outcome of free and fair elections;

6. Declare that the Ahwazi issue should not be used as a pretext for foreign invasion and that the Ahwazi movement should not be used as part of a proxy war between Iran and its foreign enemies; the Ahwazi Arab civil rights movement should remain a genuine and legitimate expression of ethnic grievances and aspirations;

7. Consider unacceptable the persecution of Arabs in Iran and support an independent and public investigation by the UN Human Rights Council into the situation in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) following the repression of April 2005, particularly a series of executions of Ahwazi Arabs, the killing of unarmed Ahwazi Arab demonstrators and other extra-judicial killings;

8. Call for the recognition of the Arab people as a distinct ethnic group and enshrine this in the Iranian Constitution;

9. Call for Arabs to be educated in their native tongue, up to higher educational level;

10. Call for freedom of worship for non-Shia people of Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) and the rest of Iran, including Sunnis, Christians, Mandeans, Jews, Bahais, Zoroastrians and other faiths and also to permit religious conversion and atheist and humanist beliefs;

11. Call for the respect for women's rights in Iran and for the appointment of an Arab woman to take the position of women’s officer in the Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) provincial government in order to tackle culturally sensitive issues, such as honour killing, health issues and education;

12. Call for the recognition of internally democratic, independent trade unions in the workplace, with peaceful worker mobilisation free of government intimidation;

13. Call for positive discrimination in favour of Arabs in Arab majority districts to ensure adequate Arab representation in employment;

14. Call for Arab citizens' equal right to housing, employment and ownership of property throughout Iran;

15. Call for the establishment of a local assembly with powers to legislate and enforce laws in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) and ensure the participation of the Arab people in the Iranian parliament and the Cabinet on the basis of their proportion of the total population;

16. Freedom of expression and publication should be emphasised with the independent publication of Arabic language books and newspapers and independent broadcasting on radio and television networks, without any kind of censorship;

17. Call for oil revenues to be used to develop the Arab region's industry and agriculture for the sake of employment and poverty alleviation;

18. Call for a review of the agrarian reform law, with land redistributed to peasants;

19. Condemn the arrest and imprisonment of Ahwazi Arab intellectuals, journalists and lawyers and the closure of Arabic bookshops;

20. Call for the United Nations and refugee-hosting States, including Syria, to respect the rights of Ahwazi Arab refugees to safe haven and asylum, and immediately cease deportations to Iran.
Iran prepares to crush striking Ahwazi workers

Iran prepares to crush striking Ahwazi workers

The Iranian regime is despatching security forces to quash protests by striking workers at the Haft Tapeh (Saba atlal) sugar cane factory.

Around 2,500 workers, mostly Ahwazi Arabs, have held three days of protest in Shoush (Susa).

Abu Al-Fazel Abidini, an independent journalist from Ahwaz, told Radio Farda: "Special forces came to the region from Ahwaz city and other cities. Some of the forces are based in Khansari, some at the factory and the rest in different areas in Shoush."

He added that the security forces were filming the protesting workers in order to pursue them later.

Four workers were arrested on Sunday but later released. The Shoush governor has threatened mass arrests if the protests continue. Workers have called on the provincial governor to block the sale of sugar cane plantations in order to protect the industry, which sustains thousands of households. However, the governor has refused to intervene.

A worker who wished to remain anonymous said: "Government forces have tried to prevent the protests but they have failed. The governor told the workers that the issue is out of his hands and that the security services will take action against the workers who he claims want a riot. This means that our demands for wages are regarded as an act of disorder and anyone who seek his rights he should be beaten. Are the workers slaves to work without payment?"ِ

Click here for further information on the protests in Haft Tapeh
BAFS Member Speaks to Arab News Network on Iran

BAFS Member Speaks to Arab News Network on Iran

The following are excerpts from a debate on the Arabs of Iran's Al-Ahwaz province, which aired on ANB TV on September 7, 2007. To view the clip visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1567.htm

Musa Al-Sharifi of the Al-Ahwaz Democratic Solidarity Party: "With regard to our Arab region of Al-Ahwaz, the [Iranian] government's policy is to expropriate lands, to deport the indigenous Arab inhabitants to other regions, and to replace them with people from the Persian provinces of central Iran."

Interviewer: "How is this done? The Arabs own the lands, which are expropriated by government decree, or what?"

Musa Al-Sharifi: "Yes, this process began in the days of the Shah with the sugar cane projects and so on. They would take the lands from the Arab farmers and establish on them camps for the army or the security agencies, or fictitious economic projects and so on. This process began in the time of the Shah, and intensified in the Islamic Republic."

[...]

Mansour Al-Ahwazi, political activist and treasurer of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS): "Various methods are used in the ethnic cleansing. We did not claim that there were killings... There are killings, indiscriminate executions, and all that, but not like what happened in Yugoslavia and other places. They are trying to finish off our existence.

[...]

"The first city of Persian settlers is called Shirinshah. You can find it on the map, or you can open Google Earth and see this Persian city in the heart of the Arab region. Lands in this region were expropriated under the pretext of the sugar cane project and were used to build the city of Shirinshah.

"The first settlement in the time of the Shah was called New Yazd, but after the revolution, the Iranians who were brought there fled from New Yazd. When the Iranian regime believes that the Arab or international situation allows it to get away with these things, it intensifies its actions. After the Arab defeat by Israel in 1967, they carried out the first settlement plan of New Yazd. They brought people from Yazd, and settled them in Al-Ahwaz. They did this when they saw that the condition of the Arabs deteriorated, even though the Arabs completely ignore our cause.

"Now that Iraq is no longer competing with Iran, and now that Iran has gained a monopoly over the strategic situation in the region, they have stepped up the expropriation of lands in Al-Ahwaz. The Iranian regime - despite all its claims to support the Arab causes and so on... Whenever it identifies some weakness in the [Arab] nation, it escalates its ethnic cleansing policies in Al-Ahwaz.

[...]

"The Al-Ahwaz issue highlights the contradictions of the Iranian government. The Iranian government professes to call for unity, to avoid sectarianism, and to defend the Shiites. It tries to use the Shiite bargaining chip in some Arab countries in order to promote its plans and in order to extract some concessions from the U.S. or from some of the other Western powers. If Iran really defends the Shiites, why does it oppress the [Arab] Shiites of Al-Ahwaz? The majority [of the Arabs] there are Shiite. If it really defends the [Arab] peoples in Lebanon and Palestine, why does it oppress its own Arab people? This is the greatest contradiction in the policy of the Iranian government.

"This issue highlights the contradictions of the Iranian government on all levels - on the sectarian level, as well as the Islamic level. The Iranian government is, in fact, coming to a dead-end, not only in terms of its foreign policy, but domestically as well.

"For example, some time ago they closed the Al-Ashraq cultural institute, which was the only Arab cultural institute in Al-Ahwaz. It was closed two days ago, as you can read on the Internet. This was done for no reason whatsoever. It did not support violence or any political organization. All it did was distribute Arab and Islamic books. It was attacked and was closed down.

"This is part of the faltering policy of the Ahmadinejad government - just like it chose to run ahead with its nuclear program, it failed to start a dialogue with its [non-Persian] peoples, and to find a formula of compromise in this regard. It has now begun to escalate its indiscriminate arrests and its attacks.

"There have been many more executions in recent years, since the rise of Ahmadinejad, and many cultural institutes have been closed down. [The Iranian government] has begun to push matters towards a dead end, and to encourage people to rise up and create unrest. What is happening now in Baluchistan... I am sure that you have heard about the kidnappings. In Kurdistan, two helicopters were attacked. They blame the West for all this unrest, and try to say this is the result of conspiracies, but it is the result of their own policy.

[...]

"Iran rules Al-Ahwaz by virtue of the status quo alone. It enjoys no historical, political, or even popular legitimacy in Al-Ahwaz.

[...]

"As the international situation deteriorates for the Iranian government, its control will weaken. Their fear of this leads them to escalate the oppression in Al-Ahwaz.

[...]

"The unity of Iran has begun to face very grave dangers, because the broadest common denominator - the religious or Shiite element - has weakened greatly."

Interviewer: "In what sense has it weakened? They derive strength from this."

Mansour Al-Ahwazi: "No, this element has weakened greatly, because the government's policy. Take, for example, the issue of the veil. They impose the veil, but in the early days of the revolution, it was worn out of personal conviction, and no one imposed it. Iranian women seek any opportunity to express their rage at the policies of the Iranian government, which imposes the veil.

"In the past, Iranian women wore the veil out of personal conviction. Now, it has become a matter of oppression, and you can see how they mobilize armies in order to attack and humiliate women and to force them to wear the veil."
Iran: "Haft Tapeh workers are starving", Ahwazi workers' slogan

Iran: "Haft Tapeh workers are starving", Ahwazi workers' slogan

Three thousand workers from the Haft Tapeh (Saba atlal) Sugar Cane Company held demonstrations outside the Khuzestan provincial governor's office in Shoush city (Susa) on Saturday demanding their wages.

A protesting Ahwazi Arab worker told Radio Farda that "the Islamic Republic of Iran helps Palestine and Arab countries, how come they have money to help them but they don't to pay us?"

Another worker believes that the currently the company management policy is "exhausting labours and encouraging them to leave the company in order to possess their lands."

The workers intend to continue their peaceful demonstrations outside the governor's office.

On 25 August, workers at Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company sent a letter to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) informing them that if the authorities did not respond to their demands for payment, they will resume industrial action. They had staged strike action on 11 July. A labour activist said: "We have held 15 strikes since the beginning of the last year, involving thousands of workers and clerks at this company, but each time the authorities failed to abide by their pledge to solve the problems."

Worker demands at the sugar company include:
- the payment of all salaries in arrears
- an end to the sale of foreign sugar on the Iranian market by "mafia" groups
- the right to labour representation
- a rise in salaries to reflect the rising cost of living brought about by poor weather
- right for workers to participate in the election of workers' representatives
- retirement of those workers who have reached retirement age
- provision of adequate safety equipment
- dismissing the company's board of directors
- ending threats to workers.

Labour activists have set a deadline of 27 September for the government to respond to their demands or they will resume industrial action and demonstrations in Ahwaz. A labour activist at Hafttapeh said: "If we had a trade union it would defend our rights, just like the bus workers syndicate in Tehran."

Privately-owned sugar mills in Khuzestan have suffered as a result of trade liberalisation, which has led to unrestricted imports of sugar. This has led to bankruptcy, non-payment of wages, redundancy and civil unrest.

According to labour activists, the Ministry of Intelligence has taken over the management of the sugar cane projects. However, Mesbah Yazdi, the head of an Iranian sugar "mafia" gang responsible for under-cutting locally produced sugar with cheap foreign imports, has called for the privatisation of "failed" sugar mills taken over by the government.

On 12 September, the Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran group published a statement in support of the 5,000 striking workers in Hafttapeh. The group also supported demands for
- an elected committee of workers' representatives
- ending the casualisation of labour and making temporary positions permanent
- an increase in salaries
- providing housing to workers

The sugar industry is built on the suffering of Ahwazi Arabs, dating back to 1962 when US businessman David Lillington's investment in the sector led to the confiscation of 68,500 hectares of Arab-owned land for the purpose of sugar cane cultivation (click here for more information).

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power proclaiming that he would tackle corruption and poverty. Under his administration, the situation facing Ahwazi workers is worsening. Instead of backing the workers, he is calling out the troops to repress them. If they refuse to work, they lose their jobs. This is not an option in a region like Ahwaz (Khuzestan), where unemployment is high, particularly among ethnic Arabs.

"After months of wage arrears many feel they have nothing to lose by going on strike and taking to the streets in protest. Workers are struggling to feed their families and pay for housing. Yet, the Ahwaz region is one of the most oil rich in the world. The oil revenue is going straight into the pockets of the mullahs while workers are forced into virtual slavery. Iran is breaking international labour codes and should be chastised by the international community for its poor treatment of workers."
Iran: Failed Assassination of Hardline Cleric in Ahwaz

Iran: Failed Assassination of Hardline Cleric in Ahwaz

A hardline Iranian cleric, Shiekh Samir Dorakwandi, has escaped an assassination attempt in the Arab city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran.

Dorakwandi was shot an wounded by gunmen while he was on his way to the Khatam al-Anbiya mosque in the Alawi (Hay al-Thawra) district. He was shot in the shoulder and the stomach. He is currently being treated in hospital and his condition is reportedly stable. Dorakwandi is believed to be a member of the Bassij, which has been used to suppress ethnic Arab unrest in the region.

The assassination attempt follows successful high profile assassinations of a leading hardline the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hay al-Thawra district, Sheikh Hesham Saimari, in June and a Revolutionary Guards commander, Mehdi Bayat, this month. Iranian security forces have reportedly set up road blocks throughout the region in an effort to capture those responsible.

The Iranian government claimed it had arrested the assassins of Sheikh Saimari in June, but this has not stopped militants from targetting other senior members of the paramilitary Bassij and the Revolutionary Guards. The authorities have described those responsible as Wahhabis (Sunni fundamentalists) and Monafeqin (hypocrites), a term used to refer to the Iraq-based Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). The government has also tried to associate the killings with the Israeli, US and British governments, although it has presented no evidence to substantiate its claims.

The Iranian regime portrays Ahwazi Arab unrest as foreign-instigated religious sectarianism, although human rights groups and UN experts have criticised institutional discrimination against Ahwazi Arabs, who endure the highest levels of poverty in Iran.

The impoverished Hay al-Thawra district of Ahwaz has witnessed significant ethnic unrest in recent years and is the focus of violent repression by the Bassij forces.
STRIKE ACTION FUELS ANTI-GOVERNMENT UNREST IN IRAN'S SOUTH-WEST

STRIKE ACTION FUELS ANTI-GOVERNMENT UNREST IN IRAN'S SOUTH-WEST

The Arab-majority region in Iran's restive south-west has been swept up in a wave of strikes and protests by workers upset by non-payment of wages by bankrupt industries.

Although the protests have been peaceful, the government has responded with force but has failed to meet any of the demands lodged by workers who are facing increasing hardships. Worker unrest comes a year after similar protests by workers in the port and ship-building industries in Mohammerah (Khorramshahr)

In Ahwaz City, a peaceful protest by 150 workers from a mothballed paper mill in Shoushtar (Tostar) was broken up by Iranian forces using tear gas and baton charges, with five workers reportedly beaten and injured, according to Radio Farda.

Abu Al-Fazel Abidini, a journalist from Ahwaz, told Radio Farda: "Over the past year and a half, these workers have been repeatedly asking the Khuzestan provincial government to reopen the factory and receive their delayed salaries. They have only received one or two months of salaries and haven't been given any official response to their demands."

He added: "They also held three demonstrations in front of President's office, but they were met with ruthless attacks [by the security services]. On Tuesday [25 September], workers gathered to talk to the provincial governor to tell him their problems, including seven months of salary arrears. They also demanded that insurance be paid and the factory reopened following its closure due to financial problems. These workers have suffered many problems during recent months. Most of these workers are tenants and eleven of them have been hospitalised in mental hospitals and have psychological problems. Some of the workers faced family problems which have ended in divorce. The 230 factory workers cannot send their children to the schools and universities due to financial problems."

The clamp-down at the paper mill comes weeks after 600 workers at the "Gama" company and 120 workers at "Pars Hassas" in Asloeyyiah went on strike due to three months of salary arrears. The Gama company sacked 40 workers involved in the strike. The Pars Hassas company, a refinery contractor, has also threatened to dismiss striking workers. (click here for further details)

On 25 August, workers at Hafttapeh (Saba-atlal) Sugar Cane Company sent a letter to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) informing them that if the authorities did not respond to their demands for payment, they will resume industrial action. They had staged strike action on 11 July. A labour activist said: "We have held 15 strikes since the beginning of the last year, involving thousands of workers and clerks at this company, but each time the authorities failed to abide by their pledge to solve the problems."

Worker demands at the sugar company include:
- the payment of all salaries in arrears
- an end to the sale of foreign sugar on the Iranian market by "mafia" groups
- the right to labour representation
- a rise in salaries to reflect the rising cost of living brought about by poor weather
- right for workers to participate in the election of workers' representatives
- retirement of those workers who have reached retirement age
- provision of adequate safety equipment
- dismissing the company's board of directors
- ending threats to workers.

Labour activists have set a deadline of 27 September for the government to respond to their demands or they will resume industrial action and demonstrations in Ahwaz. A labour activist at Hafttapeh said: "If we had a trade union it would defend our rights, just like the bus workers syndicate in Tehran."

Privately-owned sugar mills in Khuzestan have suffered as a result of trade liberalisation, which has led to unrestricted imports of sugar. This has led to bankruptcy, non-payment of wages, redundancy and civil unrest.

According to labour activists, the Ministry of Intelligence has taken over the management of the sugar cane projects. However, Mesbah Yazdi, the head of an Iranian sugar "mafia" gang responsible for under-cutting locally produced sugar with cheap foreign imports, has called for the privatisation of "failed" sugar mills taken over by the government.

On 12 September, the Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran group published a statement in support of the 5,000 striking workers in Hafttapeh. The group also supported demands for
- an elected committee of workers' representatives
- ending the casualisation of labour and making temporary positions permanent
- an increase in salaries
- providing housing to workers

The sugar industry is built on the suffering of Ahwazi Arabs, dating back to 1962 when US businessman David Lillington's investment in the sector led to the confiscation of 68,500 hectares of Arab-owned land for the purpose of sugar cane cultivation (click here for more information).

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power proclaiming that he would tackle corruption and poverty. Under his administration, the situation facing Ahwazi workers is worsening. Instead of backing the workers, he is calling out the troops to repress them. If they refuse to work, they lose their jobs. This is not an option in a region like Ahwaz (Khuzestan), where unemployment is high, particularly among ethnic Arabs.

"After months of wage arrears many feel they have nothing to lose by going on strike and taking to the streets in protest. Workers are struggling to feed their families and pay for housing. Yet, the Ahwaz region is one of the most oil rich in the world. The oil revenue is going straight into the pockets of the mullahs while workers are forced into virtual slavery. Iran is breaking international labour codes and should be chastised by the international community for its poor treatment of workers."
Iran: Revolutionary Guards Commander assassinated in Ahwaz

Iran: Revolutionary Guards Commander assassinated in Ahwaz

A Revolutionary Guards commander died after an ambush on 20 September by Ahwazi militants, according to Iran's Fardanews this week and confirmed by Ahwazi groups.

Ambush near Hamidiyah

Mehdi Bayat was killed near the Revolutionary Guards base in Hamidiyah, 25km from Ahwaz City, after returning from military training. According to Fardanews, he and his colleagues had escaped one ambush only to fall into a second ambush. He died of his injuries the following day. There are no reports of injuries or deaths among his colleagues. According to some Ahwazi group, the ambush took place in a village called Al-Shuish, near Hamydia, and was assassination was retribution for recent executions.

The actual rank Bayat held has not been announced, but Ahwazi and official Iranian sources indicate he was a commanding officer responsible for training members of the Bassij militia in Khaffajiyah. The town of Khaffajiyah has witnessed a number of disturbances by Ahwazi Arab groups which have been brutally put down by the Revolutionary Guards' Ashura Brigades, which were formed nearly 15 years ago to crush dissent in Iran.

Responsibility

A number of assassinations and attempted assassinations have been carried out in Ahwaz in recent months with members of the Revolutionary Guards, the police and clerics targetted. In June, militants assassinated Hisham Saimeri, the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hay al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City, which has experienced the highest levels of Arab unrest. At the time, the provincial governor blamed "saboteurs, evildoers and Wahhabis." (click here for further details)

At the time, the Canada-based Hizb al-Nahda al-Ahwaziya (Ahwazi Renaissance Party (ARP)) welcomed the assassination and warned Hijazi of "the consequences of continuing the criminal policies committed against Ahwazis." The ARP has also welcomed the assassination of Bayat, stating that "Ahwazis have proved through this heroic act to the Persian invader authorities that their repressive practices and executions would not stop their struggle to regain their usurped rights." (click here for their report) It is unclear what, if any, links the ARP has with the assassins. It is a separate group from the Harkat al-Nedhal Alarabi (Arabic Struggle Movement for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA)) which claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks in Ahwaz City.

Iranian officials claim that a group called Jebheyia Khalghi Al-Ahwazyeh (Ahwazi Nation or People Front) was responsible. It is unclear which Ahwazi group they are referring to and no group has claimed responsibility for the killing.
Ahwazi Appeal to UN over Iran's Human Rights Abuses

Ahwazi Appeal to UN over Iran's Human Rights Abuses

An appeal by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon:

We are writing to inform you of the
imminent execution of four more ethnic Arab-Iranians (Ahwazi-Arabs) in Ahwaz, provincial capital of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran - homeland to 5 million Ahwazi-Arabs. The news of their impending executions has come from their families, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Amnesty International, the Human Rights & Democracy Activists and from Mr. Musa Pirbani, Khuzestan’s prosecutor in an interview with the Iranian News Agency on Wednesday, September 13, 2007.

On 10 September, three Ahwazis were executed in defiance of the UN and international law, just days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, visited Iran. At least six more Ahwazi political prisoners are facing imminent execution. Four of them are being moved to a cell in Karoon prison in Ahwaz reserved for imminent execution of prisoners. Their names are as follows:

1. Hamzah Sawari, 20 years old
2. Zamel Bawi
3. Abdulemam Zaeri
4. Nazem Boryhi

The charges against them include hoisting the Ahwazi flag, naming their children Sunni names, converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism and preaching Wahabbism and being "Mohareb" or enemies of god, which carries death sentence. Other charges are "destabilizing the country", "attempting to overthrow the government", "possession of improvised explosives", "sabotage of oil installations" and being a "threat to national security".

Last year, Mr. Emadeldin Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights activist, in a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, has argued that the trials of Ahwazi Arabs were flawed, the charges baseless, and that the sentencing was based on a spurious interpretation of law and that no evidence has been presented. Mr. Nkbakht, a prominent defense lawyer in Iran, made a similar statement. Others such as Presidency of the European Council, the UN general Assembly, 48 British MPs, the EU Parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned their trials as unjust and unfair and appealed for a halt to further execution.

This new wave of execution is the latest in a series of barbaric hangings, designed to intimidate On 10 January 2007, independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Mr. Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture, issued a joint statement urging the Iranian Government to "stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing “. Despite that plea, on 14 February, 2007 Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children, Majad Albughbish, 30, single, were executed in Ahwaz by public hanging and a day later Mr. Risan Sawari, a 32 years old Ahwazi-Arab teacher was killed under torture in Karoon prison.

This is in addition to four executions on 24 January 2007 (Mohammad Chaabpour, Abdolamir Farjolah Chaab, Alireza Asakereh and Khalaf Khanafereh) and three on 19 December 2006 (Malek Banitamim, Abdullah Solaimani and Ali Matorizadeh). This brings the number of executions of Ahwazi Arab political and human rights activists in the past 9 months to at least 13.

The executions are in the context of a brutal clamp-down on Ahwazi Arabs protesting against ethnic discrimination and persecution. Although the Ahwazi Arab homeland in Iran's Khuzestan province is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world and represents up to 90 per cent of Iran's oil production, the community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Ahwazis are subjected to repression, racial discrimination and faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation.

We appeal to you to condemn the latest wave of execution and call upon Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of the others. We also appeal to you to call upon Iran to ensure due legal process in accordance with internationally recognized standards and to uphold its obligations with regard to civil and political rights, including the provision of equal rights to ethnic, religious and minority groups in Iran- such as the indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs.

For further information, please see a dossier of other human rights violations against indigenous and ethnic Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran.

Iran: Ahwazi journalist's trial delayed

Iran: Ahwazi journalist's trial delayed

The following is a statement released by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation concerning the trial of Yusuf Azizi Bani Torof, an Ahwazi Arab journalist and writer who has been charged with threatening national security. Click here for further details on his case.

According to the reports which Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) have received, the hearing of Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Torof was delayed on Tuesday 28 August in the Revolutionary Court branch 15 of Tehran, because his defence lawyer was not attending.

According to reports the court did not invite Mr. Saleh Nikbakhat who is the excellent lawyer of Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Torof and has been his lawyer since year 2005.

Also the court did not ask for two other top lawyers, Mr. Abdul Fattah Sultani and Mrs. Mahnaz Parakand, who submitted their defence to the court on behalf of Mr. Yusef Azizi Bani Torof.
UNPO Appeals for Inquiry into Human Rights Infringements of Ahwazi rights

UNPO Appeals for Inquiry into Human Rights Infringements of Ahwazi rights

The following appeal was made by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO). It follows a similar appeal by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society.

In light of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Louise Arbour's upcoming visit to Iran, UNPO expresses its deep concerns for the continued degrading human rights situation for Ahwazi Arabs in Iran.

Faced with issues of land confiscation and forced migration, UNPO has received numerous reports highlighting the detrimental effects these events are having on the livelihood of the Ahwazi community. In a report issued by UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari, following his visit to Iran in July 2005, Mr. Kothari identified the exceptionally adverse housing and living conditions of ethnic and religious minorities, including the Ahwazi Arabs, in Iran as a serious issue. Despite his findings, the Ahwazi continue to be forcibly displaced from their homes due to land development projects hosted by Iranian authorities.

In addition, UNPO has witnessed an alarming number of incidents of extrajudicial executions carried out by Iranian authorities against Ahwazi political dissidents. These executions have been condemned by the international community, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Special Rapporteur (SR) on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston, SR on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Desouy, and SR on Torture Mandred Nowak. In January 2007 these Special Rapporteurs issued a statement urging the Iranian government to halt the imminent execution of several Ahwazi Arabs. With disregard to their request and in a blatant violation of the individuals' right to a fair and public trial, authorities in Iran carried out the executions, resulting in a clear breach of human rights obligations as set out by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a legal obligation to which Iran is party to.

UNPO remains deeply concerned about the human rights conditions of the Ahwazi community in Iran and therefore appeals to Ms. Louise Arbour to:

- Inquire about the circumstances surrounding recent land confiscation programmes and extrajudicial executions;

- Investigate the situation regarding landmines on Ahwazi land and the severe effects inflicted upon the Ahwazi community;

- Urge Iran to end immediately its use of land displacement and executions as a weapon of fear and oppression; and

- Urge Iran to immediately halt its ongoing persecution of minority communities, including the Ahwazi Arab community, and to afford all its citizens their full catalogue of political and human rights.
Iran deploys scientists to environmental "crisis zone" in Ahwazi Arab homeland

Iran deploys scientists to environmental "crisis zone" in Ahwazi Arab homeland

Iran's Department of the Environment is examining the environmental crisis that has hit the Ahwazi Arab homeland, following years of campaigning by Ahwazi activists.

Scientists are to assess the impact of pollutants from both the oil and non-oil industries on the marine environment in the Arab-majority province of Khuzestan as well as Hormozgan and Bushehr on the Gulf coast, said the deputy head of marine environment at the Department of the Environment, Mohammad Baqer Nabavi, in an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

"Pollution from oil, gas and petrochemical industries and other factories located in the south will be assessed," he said, adding the plan will start next month. Nabavi said Mahshahr, Asalouyeh and Bandar Abbas are the three main environmental crisis areas. Special environmental teams and experts will measure the level of pollution of oil and non-oil wastes such as chemical agents.

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has placed the environment at the centre of its campaign against the economic marginalisation of indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. Many Ahwazis traditionally depend on fishing for their livelihoods and have complained that pollution from oil and petrochemicals industries is poisoning the fish and reducing fish stocks.

In March, two of Iran's leading ecologists claimed that the Bandar Imam petrochemical complex is causing environmental devastation. Research by Dr Abbas Ismail Sari and Dr Bahram Kiaee found that a large area of Khuzestan is seriously affected by pollution from mercury and other dangerous chemicals used in petrochemicals manufacturing (click here for article).

In December, a conference Azad University in Ahwaz City heard that the Iranian regime's industrial policies are causing environmental chaos in Khuzestan. At the conference, Dr Hormoz Mahmmodi Rad, the head of Khuzestan's environmental organisation, described situation affecting the province's natural environment as "worrying" and "chaotic" with serious consequences for human health. He emphasised the need for planned industrial development with action to stop the industrial pollutants from pouring into the Karoun River. The Karoun is an essential water source for agriculture as well as fishing, which together provide the largest source of income for indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. Dr Mahmmodi Rad warned that the province's natural environment was in a perillous state, with biodiversity in the marshlands severely threatened and some animal species could face extinction as a result of industrial pollution (click here for more details on the conference).

Earlier in 2006, controversy erupted over pollution from the Bandar Imam Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of the state-owned National Petrochemical Company, following the death of thousands of fish off the Mahshahr (Mashour) coast. Some Gulf states banned seafood imports from Iran due to radioactive contamination, indicating that marine pollution is a long-term industrial disaster (click for further information).

BAFS film on river pollution in Ahwaz

BAFS spokesman: Iran will go to extremes to expand its influence

BAFS spokesman: Iran will go to extremes to expand its influence

Iran is destabilising Iraq to expand its influence in the Middle East, said BAFS spokesman and treasurer Mansour Silawi al-Ahwaz in a live interview on Baghdad's Al-Sharqiyah Television on Friday.

In a programme that examined the role of Iranian militias in Iraq, Al-Ahwazi said: "It goes without saying that Iran will not seek the security and stability of Iraq as long as it has not achieved any understanding with the United States on all outstanding issues. Iran has a huge intelligence and military clout in Iraq."

He added that Iran exploited several factors to "go to extremes in its plans with a view to implementing its ambitious project of expanding at the expense of Iraqis in particular and the Arabs of the region in general."

A resident of Al-Saydiyah, Abu Yusuf, claimed that militias in Iraqi uniforms were attacking civilians. In a telephone interview with Al-Sharqiyah Television, he said: "Individuals donning Interior Ministry commandos' uniform have stormed the Uqbah Bin-Nafi Secondary School in the Al-Saydiyah neighbourhood of southern Baghdad and beaten and humiliated its teaching staff. They also opened fire on four women who were martyred instantly." He claimed that some 20 school pupiles were arrested.

Meanwhile, "Open Doors", an international nongovernmental organization, claimed that more than 1,000 Christian families were threatened by militias in Baghdad for their refusal to convert to Islam, pay jizyah (Islamic tax), and marry off their girls to Muslim men. In a statement, the organization added that a real campaign has been unleashed with the aim of evicting the Christian residents of the Al-Dawrah area in southern Baghdad and nearby neighbourhoods.
Iran: human rights activists call for international intervention

Iran: human rights activists call for international intervention

Leading Iranian human rights activists Shirin Ebadi and Akbar Ganji are increasing pressure on the regime to end human rights violations.

Ganji and 200 Iranian intellectuals have submitted an appeal highlighting the country's appalling human rights situation and criticising the way in which the international community is dealing with Iran. The appeal highlighted the abuses against women, children, workers and students in Iran. It also criticised the way in which Western governments deal with the regime, which human rights relegated to second place behind the nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi participated in events marking the first anniversary of a one million signature campaign which highlighted Iran's deteriorating human rights situation (click here for details). She told the media that the regime should repeal legislation dating back to the Shah's regime that undermined Iranians' human rights. She specifically referred to the Family Protection Act, introduced in 1925, and called on the Iranian parliament to repeat the legislation as it undermined women's rights and was not in accordance with either the Declaration on Human Rights or Sharia. She also drew attention to the regime's execution of children under the age of 18, which she said was against the country's laws. She added that Iranians had a right to call for the international community to intervene and monitor the situation of women in Iran and that this should not be seen as a call for military invasion.
Appeal to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ahead of her visit to Iran

Appeal to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ahead of her visit to Iran

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), a human rights and lobbying organisation working on behalf of the persecuted Ahwazi Arab population in southwest Iran, calls on Ms Arbour to visit the province of Khuzestan to examine human rights violations in the province and meet with members of the Ahwazi Arab community.

We call on Ms Arbour to examine the following issues closely:

Land rights

Land confiscation and forced migration are in line with the "ethnic restructuring" programme targeted at the Ahwazi Arabs and designed to "Persianise" Khuzestan. This is having a detrimental impact on the livelihoods and wellbeing of the Arab population.

The UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur (SR) on Adequate Housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari, in his report following the mission to visit Iran from 19 to 31 July 2005, identified as a key concern that there is "disproportionably adverse housing and living conditions of ethnic and religious minorities (Kurds, Bahais, Arabs and Laks) and groups like the Nomads." At the end of his mission, Mr. Kothari spoke to IRIN in Tehran on 9 Aug 2005 about his preliminary findings: "When you visit Ahwaz there are thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections." Mr. Kothari further stated: "[I]n Khuzestan [...] we visited the areas where large development projects are coming up, sugar cane plantations and other projects along the river, and the estimate we received is that between 200,000 - 250,000 Arab people are being displaced from their villages because of these projects." The SR also noted that in Khuzestan "large development projects, like petrochemical plants, are being built leading to the displacement of entire villages - with thousands of people not consulted on the projects, informed of the impending displacement, nor offered adequate resettlement and compensation," and added "[...] the compensation being offered to the Arab villagers who were being displaced is sometimes one fortieth of the market value - and there is nothing they can do about it. It's a fait accompli."

Despite Mr Kothari's concerns, land confiscation and forced displacement continues, particularly in the Arvand Free Zone surrounding the cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr.

We call on Ms Arbour to investigate the Iranian government's programme of population transfer and its effects on the local Arab population

Executions

We call on Ms Arbour to examine the cases of Ahwazi prisoner of conscience and the trial and execution of political dissidents, which have been condemned as unjust and illegal by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Iranian human rights activists, the Presidency of the European Council, Philip Alston (SR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), Leandro Despouy (SR on the independence of judges and lawyers) and Manfred Nowak (SR on torture).

In January 2007, the SRs issued a statement urging the government to "stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing." In the statement, they claimed that lawyers were not allowed to see the defendants prior to their trial, and were given access to the prosecution case only hours before the start of the trial. The lawyers were also intimidated by charges of "threatening national security" being brought against them. The convictions were reportedly based on confessions extorted under torture. Despite these concerns, the executions went ahead as planned, bringing the total number of executions of Ahwazi political dissidents to at least 16 over the course of a year – the government has not released any official figures.

The Iranian government refused to answer letters from the SRs. The government systematically refuses to provide information and engage in a dialogue on these matters with the independent experts, violating its obligations under the procedures of the Human Rights Council. Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has a legal obligation to respect its provisions. While the Covenant allows it to retain the death penalty, it prescribes that capital punishment can only be imposed after a trial satisfying the strictest fair trial guarantees. These include the right to a fair and public hearing, the right not to be compelled to confess guilt, and the right to "adequate time and facilities for the preparation of ones defence" with the assistance of a lawyer of ones own choosing.

We call on Ms Arbour to investigate the circumstances surrounding the executions, as well as lengthy prison terms handed down to other Ahwazis during 2006 and 2007, notably the psychologist Dr Awdeh Afrawi and the journalist Mohammad Hassan Fallahiya, who have been the subject of a number of appeals by human rights organisations. Both men are said to be suffering ill health inside prison, following torture, abuse and the refusal of medication. We also call on Ms Arbour to visit the Lanat Abad (place of the damned) near Ahwaz City, where dozens of dead Ahwazi activists lie in mass unmarked graves.

For further information, download the Ahwazi Arab Human Rights Dossier