BREAKING NEWS

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...

Ahwazi political prisoner punished for prayer protest

Ahwazi political prisoner punished for prayer protest

Jailed Ahwazi Arab journalist Hassan Fallahiya has been punished by prison authorities for refusing to participate in Friday prayers.

Fallahiya is currently being held in Section 350 of Evin Prison which is notorious for torturing political prisoners. His family have been refused permission to visit him in prison due to his disobedience, reported the Human Rights Activists in Iran group quoting prison director Bozorg Nia.

The journalist has worked for Iran's Arabic language television station Al-Alam as well as Lebanon's Al Mustaqbal newspaper. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment in April 2006 over his work as managing editor of the now-banned Aqlam al-Talaba (The Students' Pens) publication, which was issued by Ahwaz University students.

Despite concerns for his health, Fallahiya has been defiant while in custody. He has written as series of appeals to the United Nations and the European Union for assistance as well as highlighting the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. In a letter to EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana that was smuggled out of prison, he described his homeland as a prison and demanded support for Ahwazi Arabs' "legitimate national rights which are enshrined in international law."
Ahwazis in appeal to Swedish Parliament

Ahwazis in appeal to Swedish Parliament

Ahwazi Arabs joined other non-Persian ethnic groups in an appeal to the Swedish Parliament for solidarity with non-violent resistance to the regime in Tehran.

In a seminar in the parliament building, supported by most of the country's political parties and non-governmental human rights organisations including Amnesty International, ethnic groups called for support for their demands for collective rights and federalism. Non-Persian groups were represented by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, Komeleh, Azerbaijan Democratic Party, Balochistan National Party, National Movement for Balochistan and the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (DSPA).

Ahwazi Arabs were represented by Farid Morshedi, who won political asylum in Sweden following a campaign by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society and other advocacy groups. He said: "We believe that only through a federal Iran will ethnic groups secure their fundamental rights."

Brothers Imad and Mohsen Bawi, who were the subject of intensive campaigns by Amnesty International, also addressed the meeting, just weeks after they escaped from prison in Iran with the assistance of the members of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation and the DSPA. They spoke of the execution of their brother Zamel Bawi on trumped up charges of insurgency and "war against God" as well as their ordeal in as political prisoners.

All the representatives present stated that federalism, as opposed to separatism, would ensure security and stability for Iran and neighbouring countries. The chair of the meeting, a member of the Swedish Green Party, voiced his full support for the programme of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran, particularly its programme of non-violent resistance, and the realisation of ethno-national collective rights in a federal system of government.

Bakhtiari voice in Brussels: "Stop Iran's Ethnic Cleansing"

The culture of the traditionally tribal Bakhtiari and Luri people is being eradicated through Persianisation, poverty and despotism, said Faramarz Bakhtiar at a human rights conference in Brussels this month.

Mr Bakhtiar of the Lorestan and Bakhtiaris United Party told the conference at the European Parliament that "The policy of the central government has always been anti- ethnicity; it doesn't make any difference if it is in the form of monarchy or republic. The main strategy of the central state is to annihilate the other cultures and languages and to assimilate them in to one nation, one language, and one religion."

The Lor and Bakhtiar homeland is located in western Iran, numbering 5.5 million and representing around eight per cent of the Iranian population. Lors and Bakhtiaris, who share a common culture and language, are found in the provinces of Lorestan, Khuzestan, Charmahal and Bakhtiari, Kuhgiluye and Boyrahmad and Isfahan. Around 800 years ago, the Lori established its own autonomous government in Atabakane Lorestan, which lasted for 200 years, with its own monetary and tax collection systemand trade system.

However, the tribes have suffered after Tehran imposed central control over their homeland. Like the Ahwazi Arabs who are also indigenous to Khuzestan, their homeland is oil-rich, but the revenue generated from oil reserves is not redistributed to the indigenous people, who endure some of the highest rates of unemployment, suicide, drug addiction and poverty in Iran.

Mr Bakhtiari said: "We are deprived of the very basic human needs, we don't have any local radio and television stations in our land, our children are forced to speak Farsi in the first day in the school, in our rural areas, we don't have any health care, public service, any roads, educational institutes, welfare, sanitation, water pop line, fuel system, and so many other necessities of life."

Only federalism could ensure genuine national unity in a country that is composed of minorities, which are themselves majorities in the regions they inhabit, according to Mr Bakhtiar.

He said: "In 1911 we had the constitutional revolution, in order to establish a nation-state and a modern democratic Iran, by establishing the local parliaments in different provinces, which was a sort of traditional federalism, but by interference of the colonial powers of the time, this effort failed and ever since the central despotism has been the prevailing course in political scene , our ethnic-national identity and existence has been denied by central governments, which is the obvious violation of the human rights, in this vacuum of identity crisis, our identity has been replaced by a false religious identity of either Sunnite or Shiite.

"The sovereignty of one nationality over the others in a multinational land, leads to apartheid, racism, discrimination, and monopoly of the power and the resources. The best way to practice democracy in Iran is by establishing a federal structure, in which, all of the nationalities enjoy the political participation, self determination, and national identity."

Mr Bakhtiar concluded by saying that if the "pressure becomes unbearable on the nationalities of Iran" they will seek separation from Iran, leading to civil war. Only by devolving power and allowing self-determination within a federal structure will Iran become a stable democracy, he said.
Iran fails to stop UN condemnation

Iran fails to stop UN condemnation

The Iranian regime failed to stop a draft UN General Assembly resolution condemning its human rights violations, including discrimination against ethnic minorities.

Iran's bid to halt action on the resolution in the assembly's third committee - meaning it would have been shelved - was defeated by 81 votes to 71. A similar move on a similar resolution last year was stopped by just one vote, according to the Reuters news agency.

The resolution against Iran was passed by 70 votes to 51 and will go to full General Assembly in December, where it is expected to be adopted. The Canada-sponsored non-binding resolution expresses "deep concern at serious human rights violations" in Iran, including "Increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, recognized or otherwise, including, inter alia, Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews, Sufis and Sunni Muslims and their defenders, and, in particular, attacks on Baha’is and their faith in State-sponsored media."

The resolution calls upon Iran to "eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities."

In a statement, Mohammad Mir Ali Mohammadi of the Iranian UN Mission said: "This is a political motivated resolution, lacks the minimum legitimacy and is an obtrusive example of selectivity and double standard. It contains a number of falsified and unsubstantiated elements that contradict the realities of human rights situation in Iran."
Ahwazi plight highlighted at EU Parliament conference

Ahwazi plight highlighted at EU Parliament conference

Environmental degradation and forced displacement in the Ahwazi Arab homeland is as catastrophic as the Niger Delta, said the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) at a recent human rights conference at the European Parliament in Brussels.

UNPO spokesman Andrew Swan told the conference that "the appropriation of land, spillage of oil and harmful chemicals into soil and groundwater, and air borne pollutants from gas flaring all negate the quality of life in these areas and destroy agricultural communities."

He highlighted the lack of compensation for those affected by environmental damage, which, when awarded, "is no substitute for a regular means of income."

He added: "There are still families waiting for their homes to be rebuild in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War ... As a result the lack of respected familial role models and job opportunities for youth in the skilled and low volume hydrocarbon industry is fuelling disaffection and resentment."

The root problems, he explained, lay in the "longstanding policy of 'Persianisation', matched by likely falsification of census records" which have been used "to muddy ethnic identities and disenfranchise Iran's sizeable minorities. This has affected all of UNPO's members in the area, from the Ahwazi to the Azeris."

He added that Ahwazis had a right to self-determination, as set down in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the right to "freely dispose of their natural wealth."

In his concluding remarks, Mr Swan called for greater unity within the opposition to the Iranian regime: "Unifying with other actors within Iran, such as Persian groups calling for women's rights, press freedom, and such like, strengthens any campaign, discrediting state messages portraying those calling for greater regional rights as 'separatist' and demonstrate an outlook that is open and collegial. It carries risks for both sides undoubtedly, but it is important to raise the situation that liberal Persians face on a daily basis. This conference is examining the rights of all Iran's people, Persians included, and there are many common causes to be found.

"I also believe that UNPO has proven its worth in helping its members to look beyond their immediate region to those with similar experiences elsewhere ... This of course also provides an opportunity to inform Iranians of their own compatriots - if not changing positions then at least raising the standard of debate and exposing Tehran's intractability. Such approaches can bring the questions of tolerance, human rights, and democracy to a human level - avoiding the simplistic accusations of separatism and subversion which are the mainstay of Tehran's verbal attacks on its critics."