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.