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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 government in denial over Karoon diversion project

Iran government in denial over Karoon diversion project

Iran's Minister Parviz Fatah has rejected the United Nation Environment Programme's (UNEP) concerns over the environmental impact of the government's Karoun River diversion project, despite concerns that it will create an environmental disaster on the scale of the Aral Sea in Central Asia.

According to local media reports, Fatah said that the government would instead step up its river diversion programme, claiming that it "will not damage any part of the country and will not reduce the quota of water of any province." He said that Khuzestan would benefit from hydroelectric power stations that form part of the river diversion project.

UNEP has officially warned the Iranian Environment Association that the southwest of Iran, which is the homeland of the Ahwazi Arabs, and south of Iraq are facing a situation similar to the environmental catastrophes that have affected the Aral Sea in Central Asia and the Amazon jungle. The region contains extensive marshes and rivers that support endangered species of fish as well as migratory birds. Ahwazi farmers and fishermen also depend on the waters for their livelihoods.

According to the UNEP, the Hor al-Azeem marsh has transformed from one of the biggest marshes in the Middle East to a barren wasteland with soil that is too salty to sustain any plants. The marsh lies at the mouth of the Karkeh River on the Iran-Iraq border and also receives water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dam projects in Turkey and Iraq as well as river diversion projects such as Iraq's Saddam Canal have decimated the marshland, reducing it to a tenth of its original size.

Iran's current project of transferring the waters of the Karoun River to Rafsanjan, Isfahan and other desertified Iranian provinces will have major consequences for the marshland, according to environmental activists. They point to the impact of river diversion on the Aral Sea, which has seen thousands of people lose their jobs in the fishing industry, a lack of drinking water, high rates of infant mortality, still births and deformities, high cancer rates, respiratory illnesses and skin problems. Ahwazi Arabs in Khuzestan already suffer from poor health, low life expectancy, high rates of unemployment and pollution from the oil and petrochemicals industries. The diversion of the Karoun would spell disaster for their livelihoods and well-being.

In January 2006, local members of parliament threatened to resign their seats in protest at the diversion of the Karoun. They claimed that it would seriously undermine water security and the livelihoods of many farmers in the Arab-majority province. In December 2005, the MPs launched a petition to impeach Fattah over the project.

Water quality is a major problem for residents of Khuzestan. In most of the province's towns and cities, water is polluted with industrial wastes and open sewers run through the middle of the streets. In Khafjieh, in the western part of the province, the situation has become so bad that schools are failing to provide safe drinking water to children and have closed. Meanwhile, the river diversion project along with the construction of dams is already making the situation worse. The Karoon River is also an important source of water supply for farmers. The diversion project will hit the province's Arab majority hard, exacerbating endemic poverty in the region by reducing water availability.

Ahwazi Arab representatives have long been campaigning against river diversion, but the Iranian government has continued to press ahead with the scheme. At a session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in May-June 2005, Karim Abdian, Director of Ahwaz Education and Human Rights Foundation, drew attention to the diversion of water from Karkhe River, which passes through an entirely indigenous Ahwazi Arab area of Howizeh and Boustan, to Kuwait and the diversion of the Karoon's water to central Iranian provinces.
Cleric assassinated by Ahwazi militants in Iran

Cleric assassinated by Ahwazi militants in Iran

Armed Ahwazi Arabs assassinated a mullah close to the Iranian regime on Sunday in response to the pledge by the newly appointed governor of Khuzestan, Jaafar Hijazi, to attack "saboteurs, evildoers and Wahhabis."

The Iraqi-born cleric, named Hisham Saimeri, was involved in recruiting Ahwazi youth into the Bassij paramilitary forces and was a local spokesman for hardliners in the Iranian regime. He was a known agent of the Iranian intelligence services while serving as the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hey al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City.

Saimeri preached against Ahwazi Arab rights at Zahraa mosque and had described Ahwazi rights activists as Wahhabis and separatists.

Hijazi was appointed provincial governor on 21 June. During the hand-over ceremony, his predecessor, Amir Hayati-Moghadam, denounced the Ahmadinejad administration for drinking water shortages in the region and accused the government of withholding development aid he had promised. However, over one million Ahwazi Arabs wrote letters of complaint to President Ahmadinejad over government policies, particularly endemic employment, during a visit to the region in January. Ahmadinejad appears to be scapegoating local politicians for government failures, which have fuelled unrest among Arabs. Jaafar Hijazi is the third person to occupy the position of governor of Khuzestan, known locally as Al-Ahwaz or Arabistan, in the space of a year, indicating that Tehran is in a state of panic.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Ahwazi Renaissance Party (ARP) has welcomed the assassination and warned Hijazi of "the consequences of continuing the criminal policies committed against Ahwazis."
US Finds Karbala PJCC Mockup Inside Iran

US Finds Karbala PJCC Mockup Inside Iran

By Bill Roggio, The Weekly Standard

The January 20 attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center by the Iranian backed Qazali Network, which resulted in the kidnapping and murder of five U.S. soldiers, was long known to be an Iranian planned and sponsored strike. While Iran has insulated itself with its cutouts in the Qazali Network, Multinational Forces Iraq has captured members of the network who implicated the Iranian regime, as well as documents that substantiate the allegations. And now U.S. forces have satellite imagery that proves Iranian involvement. In the June 4 edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology, the magazine reports that Iran had built inside its borders a mockup of the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center, which was used to train the attackers. The "training center" was discovered by a U.S. spy satellite surveying Iran.

"U.S. reconnaissance spacecraft have spotted a training center in Iran that duplicates the layout of the governor's compound in Karbala, Iraq, that was attacked in January by a specialized unit that killed American and Iraqi soldiers," Michael Mecham reported in the "In Orbit" section of the magazine. "The U.S. believes the discovery indicates Iran was heavily involved in the attack, which relied on a fake motorcade to gain entrance to the compound. The duplicate layout in Iran allowed attackers to practice procedures to use at the Iraqi compound, the Defense Dept. believes."

An American military officer confirmed to us that the report is accurate, but did not disclose the location of the training camp. In early January, Strategic Policy Consulting confirmed a two year old report by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society that Iran was using the "Arab populated city of Ahwaz, southwestern Iran, as a base of operations." The city of Ahwaz is in Khuzestan province, which borders the southern Iraqi province of Basra. It is not publicly known if Ahwaz is the location of the Karbala mockup.

"The Al-Qods Force trains militants in manufacturing improved explosive devices and finances and organises pro-Iranian militias in Iraq," noted the the British Ahwazi Friendship Society report. "According to SPC, the Iraq network is under the command of Jamal Jaafar Mohammad Ali Ebrahimi, who is also known as Mehdi Mohandes."

We were the first to note, on January 26, that Iran's Qods Force, which is responsible for planning and conducting foreign operations, intelligence gathering, and terrorist activities, was likely behind the attack due to the complexity of the strike. General David Petraeus briefed on the Karbala attack on April 26 and noted the Qazali network was responsible for the strike.

On May 19, Coalition forces killed Azhar al-Dulaimi during a raid in Baghdad's Sadr City. Dulaimi was described as the "mastermind" and "tactical commander" of the Karbala attack, In March, U.S. forces captured Qais Qazali, the network's leader, his brother Laith Qazali, and several other members.

Multinational Forces Iraq has been targeting the Qazali Network's "secret terror cells" as well as those of the Sheibani Network. Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed 26 members of this network and captured 71 more since April 27, 2007. Three more members of the "secret cell" were captured and another killed today.

The Sheibani Network is the overarching organization that receives support, weapons, advice, and targeting from Iran's Qods Force. Senior members of the Qazali and Sheibani Networks are members of Iran's Qods Force.
The Iranian Democrats in Iraq

The Iranian Democrats in Iraq

By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington editor, reporting from Sulaimaniya, Iraq

From his secret base Abdullah Mohtadi commands a small armed force inside Iraq and a vast clandestine network inside Iran.

"I didn't believe in the so-called critical dialogue with Iran. We are for regime change, no matter what the Europeans or even the United States says," Mohtadi tells me.

It is not an ambition for the faint-hearted. Mohtadi, who is Secretary General of the Democratic Komala party, an Iranian Kurdish political party banned by the Islamic Republic, has survived several attempts on his life.

This charming former communist wants to topple the mullahs of Tehran and replace their dictatorial rule with a federal democracy.

"In a sense we have some things in common with the neocons. We believe in the democratization of the whole Middle East and recognize the danger of political Islam."

Still the former communist does not call himself a neo-conservative. He prefers the term "revolutionary liberal." He is one of the "free rangers" of Iran.

The day I first met him, he was trying to stay in the background. I had come to visit his older brother, a famous Kurdish novelist, and the younger Mohtadi was serving as a translator. He didn't even let on that he was related to the novelist, let alone venture a detail about his history, until I asked him about himself.

He was traveling incognito; dressed in a striped shirt and trousers.

Today he is dressed in an olive-drab kawapatour, a traditional Kurdish man's pants suit that flares from waist to knee; it makes him look like both a 1940s military commander and Kurdish nationalist. It looks like a suit for a special occasion.

His words are measured and soft. He drinks his tea without sugar.

Iran's Kurds

There are 12 million Kurds spread across four provinces in Northwestern Iran and another one million Kurds in a far-eastern province. Iran's total population is estimated at more than 60 million.

As with Kurds in neighboring states, the Iranian Kurds have a series of discrimination complaints. He ticks them off. Kurds are deprived of education in their mother tongue and denied money for schools and roads, even though they pay heavy taxes to the central government, according to Mohtadi. Generally, Iran's Kurdistan is run not by Kurds, but by people appointed by Tehran. Not a single police chief is a Kurd, he said. Indeed, none of the top jobs in the four Kurdish provinces are held by a Kurd. "It is a cultural occupation, a case of clear discrimination."

Congress of Nationalities

Mohtadi, with a wide array of allies, is building consensus among the democratic opposition among ethnic minorities inside Iran. It is a minority within a string of minorities. The five main ethnic minorities inside Iran are the Azerbaijanis, the Azeris, the Beluch (in southeast Iran), the Arabs of Ahwaz (in southwest Iran) and the Kurds (in northwest Iran and northeast Iran). These minorities call themselves "nationalities," because they are peoples without a nation. Nonetheless, Mohtadi (and presumably his allies) acknowledge that seceding from Iran is not a realistic option.

Instead, Mohtadi and others have united the democratic elements with the "nationalities" to form the Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran. They do not seek breakaway republics or ethnic fiefdoms, but regional autonomy within a federal, democratic Iran. They envision that this new Iran will be like the Federal Republic of Germany or the United States before the civil war extinguished the autonomy of states.

Iraq serves as a model for what is possible in Iran. "The Iranian Kurds are celebrating the presidency of Talabani in Iraq," he said. The new Iraq is a viable democracy, with regional autonomy for the Kurds, that can elect an ethnic minority (a Kurd even!) to the presidency to a large, united nation.

Can Iran really evolve in this direction? Yes, it is a faraway dream, Mohtadi admits. But progress to the promised land is quietly being made.

When Iranian police arrested a Kurdish teenaged boy, named Shwana Kadini, and tortured and killed him, in July 2005, it was not hard to stoke public outrage. Across Iran's Kurdish region, the public fury was overwhelming.

Democracy activists were quick to capitalize on public sentiment. Komala and others in their coalition mounted demonstrations in nine cities. The carried signs saying "Bring the killers to justice." Read one way, the signs seem to be about bringing the rogue cops to trial. Read another, it is a call for regime change in Tehran.

Komala and its supporters put some 100,000 people on the streets to demonstrate against the regime in July 2005, he said.

The Iranian writer's union supported Kurds, as did many other Iranian groups.

"For the first time since 1979, all of Iranian Kurdistan erupted with demonstrations," he said.

Tehran's reaction was instructive. "The government became cautious," he said. It made some attempts to placate the public. It suggests that the mullahs realize how tenuous their hold on power really is.

A Secret Network

Still, support is growing among Kurds in Iran, he said. "A decade ago, it is very difficult to get cooperation. Now people complain that you don't give them missions. Why am I not a member? they ask me." You have to earn the right to be a voting party member, he explains.

"We have had 4,000 martyrs in past 28 years, now new recruits are strengthening the party."

Azerbaijanis came late to liberation movement but their democratic management is growing fast. "This is one of the biggest political changes is that we have managed to win over the Shi'ite Kurds of southern [Iranian] Kurdistan," he said.

The internal organization for leading and organizing clandestine staff has doubled twice in the past year, according to Abu Baker Modarrisi, who is a member of the collective that runs the clandestine service.

"We send people into Iran every day," he tells me. "We sent an organizer yesterday to a Kurdish city to set up a cell."

Komala reaches Iranian Kurds through phones, e-mails and satellite television.
"Our satellite broadcasts station both Kurdish and Farsi, using an uplink in Sudan and a studio in Iraq. Rojhelat TV - sunrise and east, broadcast from Sweden, studio here. Iranian Kurd is eastern Kurdistan."

But the jamming backfires. "People are angry about health effects of Iranian jammers," he said. Many Iranians believe they are being poisoned by the intense electro-magnetic fields generated by jamming devices, he said. When I tell him that I can see the moral outrage of being denied free speech, but that the health effects of the jamming are probably nil (the electro-magnetic fields fall off by the square of the distance), he looks nonplussed. He does not want to surrender such an effective propaganda point. But he is an educated man and knows, as a matter of science, that I am right. So he moves back on the better terrain: the regime's use of torture.

Armed Struggle?

For now, Komala will confine itself to mass protests and civil disobedience. "When the time is right," the former communist said, "armed struggle will resume."

Mohtadi strongly denies that Komala coordinates with Pjak, a Kurdish terror group known to attack Iranian police stations and other targets inside Iran. He believes that violence at this stage would alienate supporters inside Iran and is morally opposed to senseless taking of life.

But Komala does have its international affiliations. It is affiliated with Socialist International through the Kurdish branch. The party recently applied for full membership on its own.

It would seem to be the perfect group for the Left to embrace: it is democratic, represents an ethnic minority, fights an evil regime run by Islamist fanatics, uses non-violent techniques to demand social justice and is a bona fide member of the global socialist movement.

And yet it has shockingly few friends on the Left. A few Europeans will listen, he said. But most in Europe and North America ignore Komala. They have moved on. Some seek to accommodate or understand the Iranian regime. Many more are consumed by Bush hatred. Komala is a oxbow lake, left behind by a Mississippi that has changed course.

Little Help from Washington

The Bush Administration seems to have little interest in Komala or the other members of the Congress of Nationalities.

Has he met with representatives of the State department or the CIA? He only nods.

He is grateful that the State Department and the European Union have condemned Iran's use of torture, censorship, false imprisonment, police brutality and sharia law. But he said he does not understand America's goals vis-a-vis Iran.

"We don't know what strategy U.S. is following. They show sympathy [for us], they condemn violations of human rights, nationalities, women. This is said. But there is no strategy. We still don't know what the U.S. want to do with this regime."

"It is better for the strategy to be publicly announced. There is no shame in it."

I ask him if he would favor a "No-fly zone" over the Kurdish region of Iran, similar to the umbrella that once shielded the Kurds in Iraq?

He seems surprised and delighted by the suggestion. But he responds cautiously. "That would greatly help," he said.

He receives no aid from America or any Western government. Sometimes, the local Kurdish government will give the party a little money "for water, electricity and so on. It isn't much."

Komala's support comes solely from supporters inside Iran and among the Kurdish diaspora - desperately poor people providing what they can.

"We are surprised why the Americans are so sensitive. The Iranian regime is confronting the U.S. very openly and still the U.S. is doing nothing to help the Kurds and other nationalities."

The regime is weak, he believes. "It is corrupt, has no self-belief, just self-interest. In the ruling circles, there is no solidarity." With a hard shove, the regime would crumble, he said. "I am optimistic."
Iran Arabs denounce discrimination

Iran Arabs denounce discrimination

By Ahmed Janabi, Al-Jazeera

Iranian Arabs in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in southwest Iran have expressed a strong will to split from Iran and restore their own state, accusing Tehran of suppressing them racially, economically, and politically.

Ahwaz has been witnessing sporadic bombings and confrontations between residents and Iranian police.

In 2006, a bomb exploded in the city, causing tension between Britain and Iran after Manouchechr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, accused Britain of involvement in the unrest.

Arab activists have complained about Iranian indifference to their demands and calls for dialogue.

They have voiced concerns over the low living standards, and the lack of education and medical services in their community.

Tahir Aal Sayyed Nima, chairman of the Ahwaz National Liberation Movement (ANLM), told Al Jazeera.net that Iran was treating its Arab nationals as second-class citizens.

He said: "Arabic is banned in government departments and parliament. Arabic is not allowed to be taught at schools or learning centres. We see this as a bid to assassinate our Arab identity.

"Schools are not available in villages, peasants' children have to go to the city on daily basis to be able to study, which is very impractical of course. Hence, illiteracy in Ahwaz is estimated at 90 per cent, and as long as the Iranian government blocks education, it is unlikely that this percentage would ever go down."

Illiteracy in Iran in general is estimated at 33 per cent.

Federalism

Most of Ahwazi political movements demand full independence for their region, but the Democratic Solidarity Party of al-Ahwaz (DSPA) demands self-rule within a federal state.

Mansour al-Ahwazi, a spokesman for the DSPA, told Al Jazeera.net: "We think it is closer to logic for the time being if we ask for self-rule within a federal state, provided that we enjoy the right of self-determination.

"We have come to the conclusion that the current Iranian regime cannot be reformed, and that is why the reformists have failed to achieve something.

"Our party along with 15 Iranian opposition organisations, have formed the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for Federal Iran. It includes all ethnicities in Iran, and we hope that its outcome will be the appropriate replacement for current regime."

Discrimination

Despite the difference in their approaches, Nima and al-Ahwazi are united in their belief that Ahwazi Arabs are discriminated against by the Iranian government.

Nima said: "An Arab cannot have a job even in his own region. Government departments in our region are full of Persian Iranians. It is nearly impossible for an Arab to get a job at a government department in Ahwaz. How can we get jobs when the Persians call us Kwawla, meaning Gypsies?"

He continued: "Iranians have established agricultural settlements just like those in Israel. By doing this, they are filling the region with Persians and eventually they will achieve their strategic goal of changing the area's demography and make the Persians a majority."

Iran has launched several big projects in the Ahwaz region, such as the Sheeren Shah settlement and the Sheelat settlement, for the fishing industry.

Khuzestan is an oil-rich region

Abd Allah al-Nafisi, a Kuwaiti political analyst and author, told Al Jazeera that the Ahwaz region was vital to Iran's economy. But it is also inhabited by non-Persians, which makes it tricky for Tehran to strike a balance between economic interests and national security.

"Ahwaz is an oil-rich province, so it would be a fundamental region to the government, but at the same time it is inhabited by Arabs. Moreover, geographically it is adjacent to Iraq and Kuwait and stretches along the west shore of the Gulf.

"For the sake of argument, if this region is granted independence or even a self-rule, it would form with Iraq and the Arab states of the Gulf a huge Arab bloc at the gates of Iran," he said.

Constitution

The Iranian constitution states that non-Persian Iranian communities should enjoy the right to preserve their ethnic and religious identities, along with citizenship rights.

Persians constitute 51 per cent of Iran's population of 69 million people. Iran says its Arab population is about two million, but Ahwazis dispute that and say their community has at least five million.

Said Al-Ahwazi: "The Iranian constitution touches on non-Persians' rights, but not clearly and directly. However, we would stick to what we have now.

"We have a problem with the government which is still in a state of denial about its own constitution. If the constitution were implemented fairly, at least we would have been able to teach our language to our children and we would have been able to get jobs."

He said that the first to ask the government to abide by the constitution and give Arabs and other non-Persian Iranians their rights, was a former member of parliament, Jassim al-Tamimi, of the Ahwazi Accordance party.

But the Iranian parliament considered al-Tamimi's requests as a threat to Iranian national security, and banned him from running for the 2005 parliamentary elections.

He was also imprisoned for a week during the Ahwazi uprising in April 2005.

Al Jazeera contacted al-Tamimi at his house in Iran, but his family said he was out of Iran and refused to reveal his whereabouts or give any contact details.

Al Jazeera also contacted the Iranian government for its comments, but no Iranian official was forthcoming.
Amnesty: Appeal for Ahwazis facing execution

Amnesty: Appeal for Ahwazis facing execution

The following is an appeal by Amnesty International regarding the imminent execution of three Ahwazi Arabs - Khaled Hardani, Shahram Pourmansouri and Farhang Pourmansouri - accused of attempting to hijack an aircraft.

Khaled Hardani's execution date has reportedly been set for 4 July. He was sentenced to death for his part in the January 2001 attempted hijacking of a 30-seater passenger aircraft.

The Implementation of Judgements section in Branch 6 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran reportedly confirmed the execution date on 2 June, and said that Khaled Hardani had been officially informed of the verdict. He is reportedly held in Raja'i Shahr prison, in the city of Karaj, around 50km west of Tehran.

Khaled Hardani was one of 11 members of an extended family who attempted to commandeer a scheduled flight between the southern Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Bandar Abbas, and force it to fly to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Security guards already on board ended the hijack attempt while the plane was still on the runway at Ahvaz, reportedly shooting Khaled Hardani in the process. The family were reportedly trying to escape the poverty and hopelessness they were experiencing as members of Iran's Arab minority. Khaled Hardani was sentenced to death, together with his brothers-in-law, Shahram and Farhang Pourmansouri, on charges of "acts against national security" (eqdam 'aleyhe amniyat) and "enmity against God" (Moharebeh) rather than charges relating specifically to hijacking an aircraft. At the time of the hijacking, the brothers were reportedly aged 17 and 18 respectively.

Khaled Hardani was originally scheduled to hang on 19 January 2005, but the Head of the Judiciary ordered a stay of execution the previous day, apparently to allow lawyers to appeal. As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights (ICCPR), Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18. The Head of the Judiciary reportedly ordered the executions of all three men to be stayed because of the ages of the two brothers. In May 2006 Khaled Hardani told Amnesty International from Evin Prison, where he was held at the time, that following the stay of execution his case and those of his brothers-in-law had been referred to the Board of Monitoring and Follow-up (Heyat-e Nezarat va Peigiri).

Amnesty International has no new information regarding the Pourmansouri brothers.
Sweden prepares to send Ahwazi writer to his death

Sweden prepares to send Ahwazi writer to his death

The Swedish government is preparing to deport Ahwazi novelist and playwright Farid Morshidi back to Iran, where he faces arrest, torture and possible execution.
Mr Morshidi has been living in Sweden for the past eight years as an asylum seeker.

On 30 May 2007, the Swedish police arrested him after his asylum claim was refused, allegedly due to lack of evidence. The Swedish lawyer who was appointed by Pen International Organisation to represent Mr Morshidi told the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) that the Swedish government is serious about deporting him and he could be returned to Iran within days.

Mr Morshidi has published two books in Farsi, which were printed in the UK, Netherlands and Denmark. His first book, Promise, was published in 2001 and contains three plays and a number of short stories about the ethnic persecution of the Ahwazi Arab people by the Iranian regime. The second book published in Europe in 2006, entitled The Night of Star and Dark, comprises of three stories. One of the stories revolves around the Black Wednesday massacres of 1979, which were carried out in the city of Mohammerah (Khorramshahr), an Arab city which was besieged by the Khomeinist revolutionaries led by General Ahmed Madani.

Mr. Morshidi is a member of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz, which is a banned Ahwazi Arab political party in Iran. He is also an activist within the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI). He is regularly interviewed on dissident radio and television networks. Three months ago he was interviewed on Kurdish television, attacking the Iranian government's ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs and other non-Persian nationalities in Iran. His prominent role in the Ahwazi movement means he is certain to be arrested and possibly executed on his return to Iran.

Mr Morshidi is likely to face the same treatment meted out to Faleh Abdullah al-Mansouri, a Dutch national and UNHCR-registered refugee was deported to Iran by the Syrian authorities in May 2006. Al-Mansouri is currently being tortured in Section 209, a notorious prison run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was sentenced to death while in exile and is likely to be executed in the near future.

AHRO, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), the DSPA and CNFI are appealing to the European Commission and the Swedish government to delay Mr Morshidi's deportation and reconsider his application for asylum or give him leave to remain in Sweden.
Ahwazis Remember Black Wednesday

Ahwazis Remember Black Wednesday



This week marks the 27th anniversary of Black Wednesday, when the Iranian regime massacred 817 Ahwazi Arabs shortly after the overthrow of the monarchy. The Black Wednesday massacre led to the formation of Ahwazi insurgent groups, including the group involved in the Iranian Embassy Siege of 1980.

General Madani imposed a brutal clamp-down on Arabs in Mohammerah (Khorramshahr) in May 1979 which Ahwazi Arabs regards as a crime against humanity. At the time, Arabs were demonstrating for cultural rights and were supported by Ayatollah Mohammed Taher al-Khaqani, an Ahwazi Shi'ite mullah. Following the massacre, al-Khaqani was put under house arrest in Qom, where he died. His son Sheikh Mohammed Kazem al-Khaqani continues to campaign for secularism, religious tolerance and human rights. In March, Sheikh al-Khaqani addressed a meeting at the House of Commons in London (click here for further details). Meanwhile, Ahwazi groups have raised their demands for Madani's arrest and prosecution for the massacre which was intended to strengthen the power of the Islamic revolutionaries.

The following is the declaration submitted by the Ahwazi Arab delegates to the Interim government on April 1979 which was published in Iranian newspapers. The appeal centred on demands for regional autonomy and cultural identity, while demanding equal rights in a modern economy:

In the name of God, the most Compassionate, Most Merciful

April 1979

Mr. Mehdi Bazargan, the respected Interim Premier of Iran,

The Muslim Arab people's delegates appeal to your ministry to listen to the demands of a consensus among Arab people, in cities and rural areas, that has emerged through demonstrations. These demands have been supported by Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammed Taher al Shobair Khaqani. The demands include the legitimate rights of the Arab people and their right to self-government, within the framework of the Islamic Republic, and maintaining the unity of Iranian territory.

Mr. President,

The delegates assure you that matters relating to foreign policy, the army, defence of the country's borders, currency, international agreements and long-term economic policies are under the jurisdiction of the central state, and our people condemn all conspiracies designed to fragment the unity of Iran. We condemn imperialism, racism, reactionary ideologies and defend a political Non-Aligned Movement, and reject all colonial agreements, which are harmful to Iran national independence.

Our people believe in the autonomy of "Khuzestan", which was historically called Arabistan and geographically belongs to the Arab people.

The basic demands of the Arab people are as follows:

1. Recognition of the Arab people as a distinct ethnic group and enshrine this in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

2. Establish a local parliament in the autonomous area with powers to legislate and enforce laws and ensure the participation of the Arab people in the Iranian Constituent Assembly, the National Council and the cabinet on the basis of their proportion of tht total population.

3. Establishing an Arab-led judiciary in Arab areas, conforming with the laws of the Islamic Republic.

4. Arabic language should become the official language in the autonomous region, while the Persian language should remain the official language for all Iran.

5. The Arabic language should be taught in primary schools, while education in the Persian language will be conducted in the autonomous area.

6. An Arabic language university along with Arabic language schools and educational institutions should be established in the autonomous regime in order to enhance the role of the Arab people, with support given to young Arab people to study abroad.

7. 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.

8. Priority should be given to employment for Arabs in the autonomous area in public and private sectors.

9. Oil revenues should be used to develop the Arab region's industry and agriculture.

10. The names of cities, villages and districts should revert to their original Arabic names, which the fascist Pahlavi regime had changed to Persian.

11. Arabs should be able to participate in the army and local security forces, operating under the autonomous govenment, with the possibility of promotion to high military ranks, which had been denied under the Pahlavi regime.

12. A review of the agrarian reform law, with land redistributed to peasants, based on the laws of the Islamic Republic which say that "the earth is for people who cultivate it."

Finally, we ask the government of Mehdi Bazargan to refrain from negotiations with the opportunistic and reactionary elements on resolving issues related to the Arab people.

Signed,

Delegates of the Muslim Arab people of Iran.