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UNPO Iranian Members Recommend Steps to Effective Political Participation at UN Forum

UNPO Iranian Members Recommend Steps to Effective Political Participation at UN Forum


On 12 and 13 November 2009, five Iranian groups were represented at the Second Session of the Forum on Minority Issues - the Ahwazi-Arabs, the Kurds, the Baloch, the Azeri-Turks and the Lur. Their attendance was facilitated by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) who is committed to offering nations and peoples an entry point into international fora.
The session was based on the theme of "Minorities and Effective Political Participation" and representatives utilised the platform to identify obstacles to their involvement in political processes and offer recommendations for best practice to improve their situation. Delegates from Iranian groups wore traditional dress to represent the diversity of Iran's ethnic, cultural and historical composition.
Dr. Alireza Nazmi Afshar, Director of the Iranian Turks Studies Center spoke under the agenda item for 'Conditions required for effective political participation.' He highlighted that Iran's ruling elite predetermines electoral outcomes by tightly controlling who can run as a candidate and excluding representatives of ethnic groups from the process. He suggested that "change must happen at both the structural and policy levels" recommending constitutional modifications to promote a 'civic republic.' This would advance democratic society and give greater fiscal and legislative autonomy to ethnic groups.
Monireh Sulemani of the Balochistan Peoples Party identified that Balochistan faces problems of underdevelopment and poverty with some of the worst UN indicators for life expectancy, primary school enrolment and adult literacy in all of Iran. She argued that widespread discrimination in politics represent a violation of Article 19 of the Iranian Constitution. The Balochistan Peoples Party advocates a participatory structure of government under which minorities enjoy the same rights as the majority group, which involves transforming the current centralised structure to a federal system with common institutions. Ms Sulemani stated that the Baloch nation must be recognised within its boundaries and given greater autonomy for national sovereignty.
In support, Karim Abdian of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization stressed the need for a decentralisation of power and the establishment of a local Ahwaz representation under a federal system of governance. This should involve free and fair elections allowing the involvement of Arab-constituted political parties. He stressed the need for Iran to have more than one national language and campaigned for greater autonomy for ethnic groups where all ethnicities have right to introduce their own candidates without government interference.
UNPO welcomes the opportunity for dialogue with Iranian authorities however regrets the Iranian Permanent Mission's unconstructive response to issues raised by the minority groups during two interventions to the Forum. The Mission accused delegates of making 'baseless allegations' on 'totally irrelevant issues' and suggested UNPO representatives held 'fake names and titles.' These statements further confirm Iran's failure to take seriously appropriate measures to address issues facing Iranian minorities and represent a distraction from the pertinent issues brought to the Forum.
The independent expert on minority issues, Ms Gay McDougall will now compile contributions from the Forum to develop recommendations to report to the Human Rights Council. She thanked the delegates suggesting that no one country had found a solution to the lingering problem of political participation. In her final remarks, Ms McDougall concluded, 'Politics count, representation matters and policy makers make all the difference.'
A full UNPO report on the Forum is forthcoming which will include statements impacting on other UNPO members including the Hungarian Minorities in Romania, Batwa, Assyria, Khmer Krom, Montagnards, Sindh, Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraqi Turkmen.
For a pdf version of UNPO's Press Release please click here
Greetings to Ahwazi Mandaeans

Greetings to Ahwazi Mandaeans

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) sends its greetings to the Mandaean community in the Ahwaz region at the time of their Dahwa Hnina (Eid al-Sagir) celebrations. The event lasts for three days and involves baptisms and remembrance of the dead with ritual feasts.

Mandaeans are a persecuted religious minority in Iraq and Iran. They traditionally live along the Shatt al-Arab waterway that forms the border between the two countries Although they are a peace-loving people, they have been targeted by Islamic extremists who are seeking to intimidate them into conversion. Methods used include murder, throwing acid in their faces, abduction, rape and torture. The religious extremists aim to physically eradicate the existence of Mandaeans, while forced assimilation has been officially practised in Iraq and Iran to undermine or destroy their cultural distinctiveness.

Around 80% of 60,000 Iraqi Mandaeans have fled to Jordan and Syria following the 2003 Iraq War. In Iran, they are prevented from participating in public life by the Gozinesh Law, which restricts access to employment, education and other public services through ideological screening. It is believed that up to 10,000 Mandaeans live in the Ahwaz region, although many are emigrating to North America and Europe for safety and freedom.

BAFS and other groups working with the Ahwazi Arab minority, which also faces persecution and discrimination under Iranian rule, extend their solidarity and support to the Mandaean community.
Ahwazis oppose sectarianism: setting the record straight

Ahwazis oppose sectarianism: setting the record straight

By Abu Moussa Zafrani


Ignorance of the Ahwazi Arabs has prompted some journalists, governments and international human rights organisations to portray their struggle as a sectarian conflict between Sunni Arabs and the Shi'ite state.

In an appeal to set the record straight, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) points out that 80-90 per cent of the Ahwazi Arab population in the southwest of Iran (Khuzestan) are Shi'ite. Ahwazi Arab culture is devoid of religious sectarianism and is instead based around tribal associations that are often mixed Sunni and Shia.

The Sunni Arab population is traditionally concentrated around the Shatt al-Arab (Arvand Rood), particularly Mohammareh (Khorammshahr). A small number of Ahwazi Arabs have converted to Sunnism and Christianity as part of a rejection of the regime's ideology and an extreme fringe minority have been influenced by radical doctrines such as Wahabbism. Most Arabs continue to follow Shi'ite beliefs, while rejecting Khomeinism as a heresy created to justify political oppression and ethnic persecution.

The Ahwazi Arab struggle has nothing to do with religion, it is a fight against social, economic and cultural marginalisation and persecution. The misunderstanding is the result of a campaign of disinformation by both the Iranian regime and some opposition groups who want to deny the problem of ethnic persecution in Iran in order to advance their political agendas.

The regime has vilified and dismissed the Ahwazi struggle as a Wahabbist insurgency. This is intended to demonise Ahwazi resistance as akin to Al-Qaeda, even though it is devoid of any religious ideology. Meanwhile, certain opposition groups and individuals are keen to play down cultural activism - particularly among Arabs - to control the political agenda. These wealthy opposition groups, controlled by middle-class chauvinist nationalists, have unfortunately had high-level access to the media and government, thereby distorting the real cause of the Ahwazi Arab uprising.

An example is the recent US State Department report on religious freedom, which states that Sunnis complain of under-representation "in government-appointed positions in the provinces where they form a majority, such as Kurdistan and Khuzestan Provinces."

In reality, the complaints are overwhelmingly about ethnic not religious representation. In some cases, notably Kurds and Balochis, ethnic groups are overwhelmingly Sunni, but their demands are based on collective rights, such as political devolution and self-determination, economic development, human rights and linguistic equality. While there is no doubt that non-Shi'ite groups such as the Baha'is, Christians, Sufis, Jews, Mandeans and others suffer violent persecution, there must also be recognition of the importance of ethnic persecution in Iran.

At an international level, Kurds and Balochis have worked closely with Shi'ite-majority ethnic groups such as Ahwazi Arabs and Azeri Turks to highlight the problem of ethnic persecution in Iran. Religion has not been a barrier to mutual co-operation and solidarity since few want to live under theocratic rule, either Shi'ite or Sunni. Ethnic rights activists seek to work with Iranians of all religions, ethnicities and ideologies to create a free society with fair elections and a political system in which they can live without intimidation and with respect. Misinformation can only create division.
Rape: Iran's weapon against Arab women

Rape: Iran's weapon against Arab women

Iranian security forces are using rape in an effort to silence discontent within the country's Arab population.

According to credible reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) and its Danish sister organisation, the Dansk Ahwazi Venskabsforening (DAVF), two young Ahwazi Arab women were gang raped by four members of the Hefazat-e Etelaat-e Sepah Pasdaran, the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards that answers directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The women are aged 25 and 26 years old and were raped at a Revolutionary Guards prison in Charshir district of Ahwaz City on 1 September. They had been arrested in an ongoing campaign by the regime against Arab cultural and political activists. One of the women was previously raped in 2006. The rapes were filmed by the intelligence services to blackmail the women's families into silence and to humiliate them in order to break them psychologically.

In Iran, victims of rape, including children and pregnant women, are executed for adultery and 'crimes against chastity'. But even if the women are not charged with adultery for being raped, their relatives fear being socially ostracised for the dishonour and shame that comes with extra-marital sex. In this way, families can be silenced and sometimes they carry out 'honour killings' if the wider community finds out.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: 'These families should have no shame as their daughters, sisters and wives are victims. The shame belongs to Ayatollah Khomenei, who is directing rape gangs in all prisons under his control, and the Iranian security infrastructure. Rape is used to divide and silence. Those who accuse victims of being criminally culpable are collaborators with the regime.

'In defiance of the Iranian regime, we say to our Ahwazi sisters and their families that you bear no shame or responsibility for this evil violation. We mourn with you and on your behalf we will fight harder against Tehran's fascist government for the liberation of Ahwazi Arab women from cultural, political, social and gender oppression.'

In a separate development, two women were executed earlier this month in Karoon prison in Ahwaz City. They were identified only by their first names - Fozieh and Khadijeh. The Iranian media claimed they were drug traffickers. Three men were executed at the same time on similar charges.
Iran: Imminent execution of two Ahwazi Arab political prisoners

Iran: Imminent execution of two Ahwazi Arab political prisoners



Dorri-Najafabadi (قربانعلی دری نجف‌آبادی) was the former minister of intelligence during the presidency of Khatami. As the head of the Intelligence Ministry (VAJA or formerly known as SAVAK), he was responsible for controlling the biggest threat to the Islamic Republic—the Iranians. He still has considerable influence within Iran’s security apparatus which makes him a fearsome prosecutor general.
Profile

Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi is a particularly brutal cleric involved in many atrocities committed against his fellow countrymen. He is considered to be ruthless on the same order of magnitude as Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali the “cat strangler” and during his term, VAJA became a far more murderous of an organization than the previous regime’s SAVAK.

During Najafababadi’s time as the Minister of Intellignce, VAJA committedchain murders of Iranian Intellectuals and ordinary citizens whom he considered to have been critical of the clerical monarchy. Dorri-Najafabadi’s influence within the security establishment enabled him to avoid responsibility and “rogue elements” were blamed.

Dorri-Najafabadi’s brutality is matched by his backwardness; he famously claimed that toys such as the Barbie doll are “destructive culturally and a social danger” to Iran. He has played and continues to play a key role in stifling dissent in Iran.

In the aftermath of the election unrest, Dorri-Najafabadi promised to teach the protesters “a lesson they will never forget.” He made good on his promise; however, soon after the son of a prominent conservative politician, who was detained during the mass arrests of protesters, also died in custody due to severe torture, Dorri-Najafabadi said that a “serious judicial inquiry” was being conducted into prison deaths. It appears that he is once again setting the stage for avoiding responsibility.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, Qorbanali Dori-Najafabadi, the prosecutor general, said “mistakes” had led to a few “painful accidents which cannot be defended, and those who were involved should be punished.”

Such mistakes, he said, included “the Kahrizak incident,” a reference to the deaths of several detainees at Kahrizak detention center in southwestern Tehran. (NYT August 8, 2009)

He is considered to be one of Iran’s worst clerics.

Iran: Seven Ahwazi Arabs Facing Execution

Seven Ahwazi Arab opposition activists have been sentenced to death in secret trials in Iran's Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz City, according to reports from the IranPress news service and the Human Rights Activists in Iran group. Two others have been sentenced to two and three and a half years imprisonment, respectively.

In an appeal to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, world leaders and the NGO community, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) identified the men as Ali Saedi (25), Valid Naisi (23), Majid Fardipour (Mahawi) (26), Da'iar Mahawi (50), Maher Mahawi (21), Ahmad Saedi, (28), Yousef Leftehpoor (25), Sayed Morteza Musawi and Adnan Biat. Some of the men are known cultural rights activists. All but Musawi and Biat were sentenced to death.

Arrested in August 2007, all men have been held for months in solitary confinement in Ahwaz's notorious Karoon prison, where many Ahwazi Arab political prisoners have been tortured and executed. As is typical of Revolutionary Court proceedings against political activists, they were denied access to a lawyer.

The initial charges against all nine men were conversion from Shi'ism to Sunnism, followed by charges related to the assassination in June 2007 of Shi'ite radical pro-regime cleric Hashem Saimari and for 'acting against national security.'

Saimari was renowned for his fiery and sometimes violent rhetoric against Sunni Muslims, who he claimed were heretics. He was a known agent of the Iranian intelligence services while serving as the imam of Zahraa mosque in the poor, Arab-populated Hey al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City.

No Ahwazi Arab group claimed responsibility for the assassination and no evidence was produced to substantiate the government's charges against the men, who denied all charges of involvement in armed struggle and murder. Past executions based on similar charges have been carried out against innocent political and cultural activists, including some who were already in prison when the crimes they were alleged to have committed were carried out.

The execution of Ahwazi Arab activists has been ongoing since the April 2005 Ahwazi Arab intifada against the regime. Thousands of Arabs have been arrested by the regime and scores have been killed, either summarily or executed following secret trials. According to AHRO, since the intifada began on April 15, 2005, over 5,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, at least 131 were killed and over 150 were disappeared, believed to have been tortured and killed by Iranian security forces. The tortured bodies of 'disappeared' Ahwazi Arab activists have been washed up on river shores or caught in fishermen's nets.

The regime has linked the unrest to foreign influence, but has declined to provide any evidence to substantiate its allegations despite promising to do so. These unfounded claims include the allegation by a news agency run by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Raja News, that the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) was set up by British intelligence services in collaboration with Wahhabist (Sunni fundamentalist) groups. BAFS has repeatedly stated that it opposes all political violence in Iran committed by both the regime and its opponents and has condemned assassinations and bombings. In reality, the accusations of foreign involvement are a ruse to justify the brutal persecution and arbitrary collective punishment of Ahwazi Arabs.

The execution campaign against Ahwazi Arabs has been condemned by independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Presidency, the European Parliament and members of the British Parliament.

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, this 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. Details of Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs are contained in the Ahwazi Human Rights Dossier, compiled by AHRO and BAFS.
Iran: Concern mounts over mass arrest of Arab civilians

Iran: Concern mounts over mass arrest of Arab civilians

There are mounting concerns over the fates of a number of Ahwazi Arabs arrested by the Iranian security forces and tried in secret Revolutionary Courts on unknown charges.

According to reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), 18-year-old Fazel Haidari was arrested and tortured for 45 days in Sepidar Prison in Ahwaz, although the accusations against him are unclear. Khalil Ghate Kaabi and Saeed Rahim Sadi have each been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment or sentenced to death, according to different reports. Issa Kazim Kaabi was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, while Mrs Nabiyeh Abdul Hussein Kaabi was sentenced to five years in prison.

Nabiyeh was arrested in April after her home in Shooster (Tostar) in the Shoeibiyah valley was raided by security forces. She is sister of an opposition activist who was executed with other Ahwazi Arab activists. Khalil Ghate Kaabi, her husband and her father in law, Majid Ghate Kaabi, were also arrested at the same time. The arrests occurred after clashes between Arab residents and security forces in Shoeibiyah. The area has seen extensive land confiscation by the state for the creation of massive sugar cane plantations.

There is also alarming news that Saeed Saki (pictured), a UNHCR-mandated refugee who was illegally repatriated to Iran from Syria in May 2005, has been sentenced to have a hand and a leg amputated. He had been due to be resettled in Norway. BAFS has been following his case since he was arrested in Syria and has repeatedly warned that he is in danger of torture and execution. Another repatriated refugee Saeed Hamadi also received five years imprisonment in Tehran, hundreds of miles from his family. The UNHCR had also expressed alarm at the arrest and repatriation of Saki and other refugees, but has in recent years lost interest in the plight of refugees supposedly under its protection and largely abandoned Ahwazi Arab refugees in Syria to their fate.
The Islamic Republic of Iran will hang tomorrow 14 Baloch in a public show

The Islamic Republic of Iran will hang tomorrow 14 Baloch in a public show

By Reza Hossein Borr

The Islamic Republic of Iran will hang tomorrow early in the morning at 6. 30, Iranian time, fourteen young Baluch on the fabricated charges of corrupting the earth and fighting God in a public park to stage a show for exhibiting its credentials as the worst killer in the Iranian history. The Iranian Fars News Agency reported that the relatives of the victims have been invited to go and watch the show of hanging. It's not clear who the victims are as the full identities of the men who are supposed to be hanged have not been yet exposed to the public. Abdul Hamid Rigi, the older brother of Abdul Malik Rigi, the leader of People's Resistance Movement of Iran, Jondollah, is among them.

The Islamic Republic of Iran that exposed its nature in killing dozens of people in recent demonstrations after the biggest fraud in the history of elections, will continue to arrest, torture and execute the innocent people of Iran on fabricated charges as it executed 23 young Iranians few days after the elections on charges of murder and drug trafficking. Three of them were the Baluch political activists that were involved only in peaceful demonstrations is in Karaj, near Tehran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran staged another show few days ago in a public conference hall and forced Abdul Hamid and few others to confess on the charges and crimes that they have not committed. The security forces invited a large number of Baluch dignitaries in the conference hall to hear their confessions. The same political campaigners were forced to appear on television and confess. It seems that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in the business of extracting confessions from innocent prisoners who have been tortured for a long time to confess to public. Roxana Saberi, an American-Iranian journalist who was arrested in Iran few months ago, was forced to confess. She announced after her release that she has been forced to confess to matters that she had not committed but she accepted the suggestions in the hope of getting released or getting better behaviours. She was told that if she accepts the suggested allegations then she will be released and therefore, she accepted all the suggestions and confessed. Among different charges that she accepted to confess was being a CIA spy.

The fourteen young Baluch also have been forced to accept that they have been agents of CIA.

The fourteen young men which are claimed to be members of the Jondollah have been campaigning for the legitimate rights of the Baluch people who are Sunnis in a majority Shia country. The Baluch people have been systematically oppressed since the beginning of the revolution for seeking equality of rights and opportunities with other Iranians. According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic and other laws that have been passed by Iranian parliament, the Sunnis are prohibited from becoming supreme leader, president, minister, deputy minister, army general, ambassador, or any other high official. The official religion of the state has been declared Shiism which is a radical opponent of the Sunni people.

The cruelties of the regime were exhibited in the recent elections and demonstrations after the biggest fraud in elections. The Iranian people went into the streets in millions and protested against the fraud and demanded the cancellation of elections but the government decided to crush demonstrations and impose Ahmadinejad as the president. The demonstrations still continue in different parts of Iran.

The Baluch people have experienced the same cruelties in the last 30 years but the news of the crackdown on the Baluch people has been always concealed. Now the Iranian people and international community can imagine that what kind of crimes the security forces committed in Baluchistan where no journalist is allowed to go and no political party is permitted. The province is completely isolated from the world and the silence can be heard time to time when the security forces attack some armed Baluch in some corners of Baluchistan.

The fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to stage an entertaining show from the hanging of fourteen young Baluch can clearly show the kind of policies that the regime has pursued and implemented in Baluchistan. They want to create maximum fear among the Baluch people and force them into submission of the most inhumane behaviours. Like many other Baluch that have been hanged in public, the fourteen young Baluch will join eternity with big smiles. They know that they will become part of the Baluch history, legends and heroes.
Iran-Iraq: Identity of released Iranian 'diplomat' revealed

Iran-Iraq: Identity of released Iranian 'diplomat' revealed

An Iranian 'diplomat' recently released by the US is a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards and a top commander of the Qods Force, which aids foreign terrorist organisations, according to reliable reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS).

"Majid Dagheri", real name Haji Abdulzahra Dagheri, was one of five Iranian citizens arrested by US forces in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil in January 2007. US officials claimed that they included the operations chief and other members of Iran's Qods Force who were arming local Shi'ite militias involved in operations against US forces. The Iranian government insisted they were diplomats. The men were handed over to Iran after they were transferred to the custody of the Iraqi government under the terms of an Iraq-US security accord.

Dagheri served as one of the chief commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, based in Susangerd. He became a Qods Force operative and was sent to Saudi Arabia to foment unrest within the country's Shia population. This operation was conducted to avenge the deaths of Iranian pilgrims during an anti-American protest in Mecca in 1987. He was also involved in the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners of war who surrendered to Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hassan Ghashghavi, said he was 'innocent' and 'arrested against all international regulations under the Vienna convention.'

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "It is astonishing that a well-known high-level Iranian terrorist has been released by the US and allowed to go home. It is highly likely that he will return to his job and continue to organise plots against the Arab world and Western states in order to advance the Iranian regime's political ambitions. He is far more dangerous than Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who ran terrorist operations in Iraq, and the US killed him. Handing over Dagheri to Iran is a disastrous act of appeasement that will achieve nothing in terms of advancing security and democracy in the Middle East."
Iran: Arrests, killings and assassinations as uprising continues in Ahwaz region

Iran: Arrests, killings and assassinations as uprising continues in Ahwaz region

A number of Ahwazi Arab organisations have reported on recent clashes between the ethnic Arab population and the Iranian authorities.

Jaffar Abdulzahra Khantaf, a resident of Borwayeh village and a lecturer at Chamran University in Ahwaz City, was shot dead in Tehran while taking part in opposition protests there, according to the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz, a pro-federalist group allied with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. He was studying for his doctorate in Tehran. Jaffar was shot in the head by the Bassij in the Tehran Metro and later died in hospital. His family was forced to bury him privately and without mourning, under the direction of the security forces.

Meanwhile, two members of the Revolutionary Guards were shot dead by Arab militants on 4 July, according to the separatist Ahwazi Arab People's Democratic Popular Front. The first was killed in Ariashar district close to Padadshahr district and second in Yousefi district close to Abadan junction. The same group quotes a report from the 'Ahwazi Voice Agency' that claimed three armed Arab militants clashed with security forces in Ma'shor (Mahshahr) on June 22, leading to the death of a 26-year-old Arab militant from Falahiya and two members of the Revolutionary Guards.

On July 5, dozens of Ahwazi Arabs were arbitrarily arrested by the Revolutionary Guards in the Arbaa-Asood area (Charshir and Korush areas), according to the separatist National Liberation Movement of Ahwaz (NLMA). The security forces had attempted to raid the restive Arab districts of Hay Al-Thawra and Malashiya, which have been the focus of Ahwazi Arab resistance in recent years, were forced back by Arab 'resistance', although no casualties were reported.
Iran: Ahwazi Arab torture victim tells his story

Iran: Ahwazi Arab torture victim tells his story

An Ahwazi Arab asylum seeker living in the UK since April has come forward to testify against the Iranian regime's use of torture against peaceful opponents.

Mr Jazayeri, 33, participated in peaceful demonstrations against the Iranian regime's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs in April 2005 when he was first arrested. He had been knocked unconscious after being attacked with tear gas and beaten by the Bassij paramilitaries. When he awoke he discovered he was being held in solitary confinement. Pictures he has submitted to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) show that he continues to bear the scars of his ordeal, caused by multiple lacerations of the skin on his back (see photos). He suffered other injuries to his body which are not shown in this photograph.

After his release he lost his job and suffered mental trauma, including depression, as well as physical problems. Like many torture victims, the worst scars are emotional. In a candid and courageous interview with BAFS in which he repeatedly broke down, Jazayeri said: "After my release I felt so depressed, useless, ashamed and ill-tempered. After some months I recovered a little and instead of feeling demoralised I decided to stand up against the tyranny."

Jazayeri began supporting the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz, an Ahwazi Arab group calling for minority rights and self-determination for his people, despite being ordered not to participate in any political activities following his release. He said that political activism gave meaning to his life, which had been shattered by his time in prison. However, the authorities learned of his activism and he fled his home.

Some time in March, the security services raided his frail, elderly mother's house in an attempt to find him and violently assaulted her. Her neighbours found her unconscious and sent her to hospital where she died of her injuries. Jazayeri has requested BAFS publish photos of her dying and the injuries to her hands, which were heavily bruised by regime agents during their attack on her.

The death of his mother has left Jazayeri feeling distraught. He said: "They killed my beloved mother, they took out their revenge on my diabetic and elderly mother. My mother is a victim of liberty like Neda Soltani. These victims have paid with their life for others' freedom and for democracy in Iran. They killed her but her spirit will inspire all Ahwazi rights seekers. I've missed her already but I know I am not alone and thousands people in Iran suffering the same."

The details of Jazayeri's case are typical of the cases of torture documented by BAFS over the past four years and his case is not unique. However, most torture victims have been reluctant to talk openly about their experiences due to feelings of embarrassment and shame. Jazayeri wants to turn his suffering into something that can help create positive change for Ahwazi Arabs and the whole of Iran. BAFS appeals to the international community to stand in solidarity with the regime's victims and prevent the perpetration of human rights abuses in Iran.

Click on images to enlarge
Iran and Syria flout refugee conventions again: Ahwazi Arabs illegally deported

Iran and Syria flout refugee conventions again: Ahwazi Arabs illegally deported

The Geneva Conventions and the UNHCR have been once again mocked by the regimes in Syria and Damascus as two more Ahwazi Arab refugees are illegally repatriated from Damascus to Tehran.

Hossein Yaber Niesi (29) and Jasem Nabhan Niesi (37) were arrested by the Syrian authorities in April following an extradition request by Iran and deported yesterday, according to reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society from the Danish Ahwazi Friendship Society and Ahwazi Arab opposition groups.

They are being held by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence but have been denied visits by family members or lawyers. There are reliable reports that the two men are being tortured.

The two men are meant to be under UNHCR protection, but are just the latest in a large number of Ahwazi refugees repatriated by Syria. The UNHCR office in Damascus has repeatedly failed to take adequate action, despite a change of leadership. The office itself is known to be infiltrated by the Syrian security services and the Lebanese Hezbollah, a situation the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva have been unable or unwilling to address. The Lebanese Hezbollah, acting on behalf of Iran, has also performed its own arrests and illegal deportations of Ahwazi Arabs in Beirut and earlier this year they kidnapped a sick child and her family from a hospital in a Sunni area of the city.

In view of the UNHCR's failure to protect refugees and the poor security situation facing Ahwazis in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) and its associates defend the right of all Ahwazi Arab asylum seekers to seek sanctuary in Europe.


Ayatollah Khamenei's Uncle Napoleonism

Ayatollah Khamenei's Uncle Napoleonism

By Nasser Bani Assad, British Ahwazi Friendship Society

The Iranian government has expelled two British diplomats after it accused the British government and the BBC of stirring up opposition rioting and ethnic unrest.

In recent days, Ayatollah Khamenei has used the 1953 British-American-backed coup against the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq to arouse anti-British sentiment and suggest that those opposing his puppet president Ahmadinejad are part of a London-based conspiracy to destroy Iran itself.

For many outside Iran, the claims appear deranged. But this is the paranoid psychology, amusingly described in Iraj Pezeshkzad's novel "My Uncle Napoleon", that has been sustained in Iran long after the demise of the British Empire. The only section of Iranian society that has ever had a problem with Pezeshkzad's "My Uncle Napoleon" is the religious establishment. After seizing power, the mullahs banned the book, ironically claiming it was the work of British intelligence intended to destroy Shi'ism and the Iranian nation. They failed to get the joke. This immature reaction is rooted in a deep lack of self-confidence.

In his attempt to appeal to the suspicious minds of the Iranian public, Khamenei is using the last resort of the despot: blame all Iran's internal problems on the British. While the British Empire did historically intervene in Persia/Iran as it did in most parts of the world, its current influence over events in Iran is, at best, about as strong as its influence in former colonies such as India, Kenya or South Africa. That is, it has little influence beyond the normal cultural, diplomatic and economic intercourse between two different countries/

The Iranian regime blames BBC Persian service for its ills. As a global media corporation, the BBC broadcasts in many languages across the world providing objective commentary on a range of countries. Yet, only Iran says that the BBC is seeking regime-change by broadcasting videos of brutality by its security services. It is as if the British are wielding the batons themselves or using some form of mind control over the Bassij fanatics to shoot dead Neda Soltani and the countless, nameless others murdered by this cruel government.

Unsurprisingly, the Iranian regime has not voiced anything about the useless and amateurish yet expensive American anti-regime propaganda exercises, VOA Persian and Radio Farda. Perhaps this is because they are afraid that the BBC is regarded by Iranians as trustworthy and without a party line to pursue, while the US efforts are run by a small band of ageing and embittered exiles who barely have a grasp on reality. The regime fears truth more than it fears any ideology.

It is a sign of extreme political backwardness that a regime has to invent conspiracies involving "Satanic" foreign governments in order to protest itself from the truth. Moreover, it demonstrates how little faith the regime has in its own people that it believes they will behave like sheep by betraying their country and obeying the dictates of foreign governments.

The youth of Iran, a country where 70 per cent of the population is under 30, have no interest in these fantasies about British imperialism and are disinterested in what happened more than half a century ago. They want decent jobs and education, they want equitable economic development, they want to express their opinions, they want freedom to enjoy themselves without religious sanctions and, for minorities, they want freedom of worship, freedom to learn and speak in their mother tongue and the devolution of power from the centre. The youth of Iran want to look forward, not backward.

Khamenei's conspiracy theories could very well backfire. It evident to Iranian youth that the hidden hand of British imperialism is not behind everything that goes on, nor do they feel brainwashed by dark forces emanating from London. The portrayal of the British as the regime's greatest enemy could very well embolden them and many now see the British as their best friend.

The mullahs know that without invented conspiracies and extreme state terror, their rule would crumble. Now the conspiracies and terror are no longer working and the truth is chipping away at the regime's feet of clay. It is not a matter of 'if' but 'when' the edifice of the Islamic Republic will topple and a new generation gets power.

The role of the international community should be simple: let the people tell their truth and let them be heard.
Hossein Kaabi kicked out of Iran football team due to election protest

Hossein Kaabi kicked out of Iran football team due to election protest

Ahwazi Arab Hossein Ka'abi was one of four footballers expelled from the Iranian national side today after staging an on-pitch protest against the presidential election results during a match last week against South Korea.

Ahwaz-born Ka'abi, who has played for English League One team Leicester City FC, joined Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Vahid Hashemian in wearing green armbands in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, an opponent of President Ahmadinejad. Two other players also wore green armbands but have not been dismissed.

During the match held in Seoul, supporters of the Iranian team showed their support for the demonstrations in Iran by staging a protest outside the stadium. They unfurled a banner that read "Go To Hell Dictator," and chanted "Compatriots, we will be with you to the end with the same heart." During the match, protesters waved the banner, held up green paper signs reading "Where is my vote?" and waved Iran's national flags emblazed with the plea "Free Iran."

Ka'abi is one of Iran's most talented footballers, known for his aggressive style which has helped the Iranian side win at an international level. His passport has now been confiscated. There are concerns that he and the other footballers who participated in the protest will be imprisoned.

Ka'abi is believed to be a descendent of Sheikh Khaza'al, the powerful Arab sheikh of Mohammareh who ruled much of what is now the province of Khuzestan. Khaza'al was deposed by Reza Khan in 1925.

Iran: The Uprising in Ahwaz

Iran: The Uprising in Ahwaz

The following YouTube videos trace the unrest in Ahwaz, an Arab majority city in Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province. Mehdi Karroubi had topped the poll in the province in 2005, with Ahmadinejad in a distant third place. This year, Ahmadinejad came first with an overwhelming majority - a result that the electorate regards as impossible.

9/10 June: Anti-Ahmadinejad supporters come out onto the streets of Ahwaz City in large numbers ahead of the presidential election



13 June: Riot police and Bassij attack pro-Mousavi demonstrators in Ahwaz City streets



From 13 June: Demonstrations and riots break out in Ahwaz after election result is announced








Iran: YouTube and Twitter do not show hidden brutality

Iran: YouTube and Twitter do not show hidden brutality

YouTube and Twitter have provided extensive media coverage of anti-government demonstrations in Iran, but the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) warns that the worst state terrorism will be conducted where these new technologies cannot reach.

Thousands of men and women are being arrested, including severely injured activists, and held in Evin Prison where conditions are notoriously harsh. At this moment many will be underdoing interrogation through torture, which in Iran includes mock executions, starvation, anal rape using truncheons, repeated stamping on genitals and severe and prolonged sensory deprivation.

The experiences BAFS has recorded in relation to Ahwazi Arab political prisoners are common to all political prisoners held by the Iranian government, regardless of whether the president at the time was Rafsanjani, Khatami or Ahmadinejad. In recent years, BAFS has also gathered evidence of summary executions, with bodies of 'disappeared' people found washed up in rivers covered in marks of torture or dumped on the doorsteps of relatives' homes. The world media and the international community have frequently ignored this violent feature of the Iranian regime.

Victims of torture are often promised an end to their suffering through confessing to crimes they did not commit, including collusion with foreign intelligence agencies. But their 'confessions' are subsequently used to convict them in closed summary trials by a Revolutionary Court, after which many are executed using a cruel form of hanging which ensures a prolonged death through strangulation.

BAFS has collected medical evidence from dozens of Ahwazi Arab refugees in the UK who have been subjected to abuse in Iran's prisons. Some of these victims of torture will suffer a life of chronic pain, physical disfigurement and disability and mental illness, but often they are too embarrassed to seek help and many are not given appropriate treatment by the National Health Service. Yet, they are the lucky ones - they have escaped, while thousands of political prisoners will remain behind bars for years on end.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "We are worried that the reliance on YouTube and Twitter will encourage lazy reporting in the Western media. If the evil is not seen, there is an assumption it is not happening. The gruesome videos and descriptions we have seen on these websites are nothing compared to what is really going on in Iran, where camera phones and laptops do not exist, such as the torture chambers of Prison 209 and Prison 59. There is a limit to what journalism can reveal. BAFS demands international intervention to bring an end to torture and state terrorism in Iran."
Announcement: Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran

Announcement: Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran

CNFI-Logo.pngYou have come to the streets for your rights with regard to: civil rights, democracy, the equality before the law, right to elect and be elected without discrimination in a free of cheating election, and the right to have access to modern and free mass media.

People of Iran

The Iranian Islamic regime shows no respect for the real outcome of the elections that took place under its own non-democratic frame works and discriminatory procedures on 12 June 2009. The regime carried out a political coup instead, in order to maintain the Supreme Leader's favoured candidate, Mr Ahmadinejad, in power.

You the people of Iran, have repeatedly had nationally and regionally revolutions in the past century to achieve your civil and democratic rights, but each victory again and again became confiscated and robbed by the coup makers to stabilize their dictatorship and autocracy.
Again another coup took place, under the guidance and support of Iranian religious Supreme Leader "Walye faqih Ali Khamenei" by his led Revolutionary Guards and Basijis to keep Ahmadinejad his favourite president in power.

In reply to this coup you the people of Iran have risked your life and gone out on the streets, displayed through a major historical mass demonstration in millions, and showing your discourse and anger to the rulers of Iran and the world. You have come out to defeat the dictators and to achieve all the civil rights that you have been deprived of during the recent century.
You have come to the streets for your rights with regard to: civil rights, democracy, the equality before the law, right to elect and be elected without discrimination in a free of cheating election, and the right to have access to modern and free mass media.

The problem is not just Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. The problem lies in the Iranian political system's nature with its structure based on an absolute dictatorship in the form of "welayete faqih". This problem has no stable solution but dealing with its roots' factors in a radical way. The roots lie in the current Iranian Constitution and the relationship between the government and citizens of Iran that are shaped and channelled in a dictatorial and widespread discriminative way. The effective continuity and sustainability of the current fight and mass protest will ensure the achievement of our democratic and civil rights.

We the political parties and organizations in the "Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran - CNFI" condemn the cheating and brutalities of the Islamic Regime of Iran against its own people and support people's fight for their democratic, just and fair demands of abolishing the fraudulent 10th presidency election.

The people of Iran who are composed of several nationalities with diverse cultural, religious and social origins are in need of a united fight more than ever during the current sensitive campaign.

Once again we support your struggle throughout Iran, and condemn the regime's cruel actions by the brutal massacre that took place during the peaceful mass demonstration on last Monday. We extend our friendship and solidarity hands to all Iranian democratic forces for cooperation and a united campaign against the dictatorship for a decentralized democratic and a plural political system in Iran.

Questions of Nationality and Democracy in Iran

Questions of Nationality and Democracy in Iran

Conference of the Society for Threatened Peoples and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation

The present situation of the non-Persian ethnic groups and non-Shiite religious communities in Iran and their perspectives for the future after the presidential election are the subject of a conference of the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation on 20th June 2009 in Frankfurt am Main. The ethnic group of the Azeri, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchi, Turkmens and the religious minorities of the Bah'ai or Christian Assyrians and other smaller peoples and religious communities have been suffering for years from suppression.

Violent attacks, arbitrary arrests, harassment and discrimination mark the everyday life of these people. Especially politically or socially active members of this ethnic group are constantly faced with being picked on arbitrarily by the Iranian security forces. They are abducted, tortured and murdered. Shortly before the presidential election the number of executions rose sharply. In May 2009 alone 52 death sentences were carried out.

With their conference "Questions of Nationality and Democracy in Iran" this Saturday in Frankfurt am Main the GfbV and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation want to give representatives of the discriminated ethnic groups the opportunity to present their position. At the same time approaches for a peaceful future for all in Iran will be discussed. In the forefront the question will be: How can the persecution of the suppressed communities be ended? An expert on the right of women and two experts who will speak on the subject of federalism in Iran have also been invited to the conference.
Iran: Situation in Ahwaz 'worse than Tehran'

Iran: Situation in Ahwaz 'worse than Tehran'

Ahwaz City is in turmoil with 'many, many dead' at the hands of police and the Bassij, supported by the Lebanese Hezbollah, according to numerous independent eye-witness accounts received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS).

Security forces have imposed martial law on the city and have targetted the district of Hay Al-Thawra, which has been a hotbed of ethnic Arab unrest against the regime in recent years. Residents claim that they are living under curfew unable to leave their homes while security forces are opening fire with live rounds on any gathering. Ethnic Arab residents claim that foreign Arabs with Lebanese accents, probably from the Lebanese Hezbollah, are being organised into death squads co-ordinated by the paramilitary Bassij and official vigilante groups. Lebanon's Hezbollah uses Qods Force bases in the province as training grounds.

President Ahmadinejad was given a clear lead in Khuzestan province, according to the controversial official election results. The results were a surprise as most expected a strong vote for Mehdi Karroubi among the local Arab population. He had topped the poll in the province in 2005 with his message of ethnic rights winning support among the Ahwazi Arabs, who are subjected to discrimination and high levels of deprivation.

"The lack of foreign media in Ahwaz means that the Iranian regime believes it is acting with impunity," said BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad. "Ahwaz and Isfahan are the two cities outside Tehran that are seeing the largest popular uprisings and the most brutal response by the state terror machine, but lines of communication with these cities are very limited. The number of deaths is unknown, but reports suggest they are in double figures. Hundreds have been arrested. Even when the unrest has died down, we expect the arrests to continue.

"In the past, any unrest in Ahwaz is always followed by a wave of summary and judicial executions. Sometimes bodies of those who have 'disappeared' have been found in the river Karoun with marks of severe torture.

"This is likely to happen again unless the United Nations takes action immediately and, at the very least, sends human rights observers to Ahwaz. We call on the world's democracies to take action to ensure that human rights are protected throughout Iran and not to focus just on Tehran. We call for full sanctions on all foreign groups and their political affiliates who are suspected of involvement in state terror in Iran."
Iran-Balochistan: Three Prominent Student Leaders Arrested

Iran-Balochistan: Three Prominent Student Leaders Arrested

Report by the Balochistan Peoples Front

Three prominent student leaders in Baluchistan have been arrested after widespread demonstrations protesting against unprecedented widespread fraud in elections. Shahryar Hosseinbor, Ahmad Rigi and Saeed Arbabzahi were taken to unidentified prisons and their family's search for finding them has not returned a positive result. These students were involved in civil and legal activities.

They were part of a group that organised and supervised the election process. The arrested students witnessed the counting of the votes but Ahmadinejad who has won the least votes in Baluchistan was declared the winner of the elections. This was something very surprising for those who supervised elections and the process of counting the votes.

The record shows that the Islamic Republic of Iran uses ruthless techniques and torture to punish the opponents in Baluchistan. Those who have been arrested claimed that their feet were drilled, their bodies were burnt, their finger nails were pulled and their genitals were damaged. A large number of them have been executed or hanged in public.

The Baluch people are Sunnis and they are considered by the Iranian security forces as infidels who deserve to have maximum physical and mental torture before being hanged. Roxana Saberi, the American journalist that was detained a few months ago and released later [2009], claimed that she was persuaded to confess to suggested allegations to secure her later release from prison.

It is likely that these students would face the same fate if the international community and human rights organizations do not take adequate actions NOW to force the Islamic Republic of Iran to release them as soon as possible.
Assessing the ethnic vote in Iran's elections

Assessing the ethnic vote in Iran's elections

Iran's presidential elections have revealed the true extent of the ethnic dimension of Iranian politics, which could prove to be the country's most revolutionary force.

Ethnic issues were at the fore of campaigning in ethnic minority-dominated provinces. In a recent article for the National Democratic Institute, Kaveh-Cyrus Sanandaji of the Middle East Centre at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, wrote:
The resurgence in minority grievances has recently brought ethnic politics to the fore with an unprecedented sense of urgency, and the regime has taken steps to assuage perceptions of disenfranchisement or repression shared by ethnic minorities ...
The discourse on ethnic politics has also drastically expanded during the 2009 presidential campaigns. Mousavi in particular has been campaigning in the minority-dominated provinces of Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Mazandaran and Golestan, among others. Beyond the standard assurances of greater minority incorporation in government and promises to respect minority rights, which are echoed by Karroubi and Rezai, Mousavi has proposed unprecedented, detailed policies to address minority grievances.
Voting trends reveal that despite efforts to campaign for the ethnic minority vote, increasing numbers of non-Persians are rejecting the political system and abstaining. The official results show that six provinces where the presidential election turn-out was below 80% are dominated by Kurds, Arabs, Azeris and Balochis, indicating a growing ethnic-based resistance to the political system. Outside these provinces, turnout averaged 90% and ranged between 80-100%.

The far lower rates of turnout in provinces where non-Persian ethnic groups are concentrated indicate a higher rate of 'rejectionist' sentiment that can be attributed to secessionist, autonomist or federalist sentiment. There is no motivating factor other than ethnicity that can account for the sharp divergence in abstention rates between ethnic Persians and non-Persians. The lower rates of turnout are therefore a sign of significant progress for the banned ethnic federalist and secessionist movements that called for an election boycott.

Ethnicity-related rejectionism can be roughly deduced by measuring the difference between the turnout in predominantly Persian and non-Persian provinces. This difference was around 27% in Kurdistan, 21% in West Azerbaijan, 19% in Khuzestan, 16% in Sistan va Balochistan and 11% each in Ardabil and Kermanshah. The Kurdish population, which covers Kermanshah and significant parts of West Azerbaijan as well as Kurdistan province, appears to be the most inclined towards separatism while the Azeris, which are concentrated in West and East Azerbaijan and Ardabil, appear to be the least separatist. The Arab population, which makes up a majority in Khuzestan, and the Balochis also have higher rates of rejection of the political system than seen in Persian areas of the country. In the Golestan and North Khorasan provinces, where the one-million strong Turkmen population is concentrated, the abstention rate is a third higher than the national average at around 20%.

Further adjustment to exclude Persian minorities in these six non-Persian provinces suggests that up to one in three Kurds, one in four Arabs and Balochis and one in nine Azeris - totalling at least three to four million Iranian citizens, or 20-28% of the non-Persian electorate - could be in favour of a political revolution where ethnic groups are given more autonomy or outright independence. This is likely to be a conservative estimate, since these figures are based on flawed election results which may have exagerrated turnout in these provinces in order to hand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad his re-election victory.

Moreover, many non-Persians who voted for the 'reformist' candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi had regarded them as the least worst option, having been encouraged by their appeals for greater attention to ethnic rights. This could have accounted for Mousavi's considerable vote among Azeris, who comprise at least a quarter of Iran's population and are generally loyal to any Azeri candidate. The Bakhtiari and Lori votes in the provinces of Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari and Lorestan may also have been encouraged by Rezaee and Karroubi, who are from these ethnic groups. Turnouts in these provinces were above the national average, although the vote for these candidates was suspiciously poor even in their home towns.

Given a genuine choice in free and fair elections, it is likely that non-Persian groups would opt for greater powers over their regional affairs. When the ethnic rejectionist vote is combined with the official votes for the 'reformist' candidates, two-thirds of the non-Persian electorate rejected Ahmadinejad. After factoring in the fake votes for Ahmadinejad and the likely uncounted votes for his opponents, the desire for change among non-Persians is overwhelming - potentially at least 80% - and far stronger than among Iran's dominant Persian ethnic group.

The level of mobilisation around ethnicity is as strong as class identity and is an important dimension in the debate on Iran's political future. Yet, the future of Iran could be determined by this political under-current that is sidelined by the self-appointed 'Iran experts' in the West as well as Iran's own repressed intelligensia and highly censored media.
Iran: Arab militants pledge to renew fight against regime

Iran: Arab militants pledge to renew fight against regime


Iran's Revolutionary Guards have been under attack from armed members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA), according to a statement by the separatist group.

Anti-government demonstrations have erupted in and around Ahwaz following the fradulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the turmoil, Arab militants have fired on the security services. A number of armed separatist groups have operated in Arab areas which they claim are under Iranian occupation. Some of the groups have been short-lived, but ASMLA has previously claimed responsibility for major bomb attacks in Ahwaz City, including a June 2005 car bomb attack on the offices of the provincial government.

The Iranian regime has previously accused the US, the UK and Israel of supporting Ahwazi Arab separatist groups, but has failed to provide any proof to back up its assertions.
Iran: Attacks on Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz as Arabs reject election results

Iran: Attacks on Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz as Arabs reject election results

Reports from two separate sources has confirmed that Arab militants have attacked members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards in the Kampolo and Chaharshir districts of Ahwaz City, inflicting 'losses' - it is unclear what those losses are.

The attacks come after the announcement of fradulent presidential election results, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a landslide win. The chair of the electoral commission in Khuzestan province, which is home to most of Iran's indigenous Arab population, gave Ahmadinejad a 64% share of the vote with Mir-Hossein Mousavi on 27%, Mohsen Rezaee 7% and Mehdi Karroubi less than 1%. He added that in the Arab city of Khoramshahr (Mohammara), which lies on the Shatt al-Arab near Iraq, Ahmadinejad's support rose to 78% with Mousavi on 18%, Rezaee 2% and Karroubi less than 1%.

Sources in Ahwaz have said that outside the security services, Ahmadinejad is deeply unpopular and his support within the civilian population has diminished. The results are even more miraculous given that the dominant Arab population has displayed some of the greatest defiance against the regime, particularly in Khorramshahr/Mohammara where ethnic unrest has been accompanied by frequent industrial action over non-payment of wages in key industries. Khuzestan has never been considered a base of support for Ahmadinejad. In 2005, he officially came third with 14.4% of the vote, well behind Karroubi on 34.5% and Hashemi Rafsanjani on 20.5%. Karroubi's share of the vote in Khuzestan was twice the national average.

An ethnic Lor from neighbouring Lorestan, Karroubi had made ethnic rights a key plank of his bid for the presidency. This won him support from many Arab figures, including former Majlis member Jasem Shadidzadeh al-Tamimi who was his campaign manager in the province. Ethnic Lors are also indigenous to northern areas of Khuzestan and it is believed he had overwhelming support among them. Yet, in Karroubi's hometown of Aligordaz in Loristan, Ahmadinejad received 39,690 votes, Karoubi 14,512 and Mousavi 9,330 votes.

Meanwhile, Khuzestan is home to Mohsen Rezaee, who belongs to the Bakhtiari ethnic group that is concentrated in the east of the province. Although he is not believed to be widely popular, yet in the village of Lali where Rezaee is from, Ahmadinejad won 830 out of 900 votes, an implausible 92% of the vote. Meanwhile, Mousavi has enjoyed strong and growing popularity in the province as he has sought to consolidate opposition to Ahmadinejad around him.

Most Ahwazi Arabs expected vote-rigging, but few foresaw it on this scale. There is universal agreement that the provincial results were imposed by Ayatollah Khamenei without any count being conducted.

Speaking to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, an Ahwazi activist said: "The results for Rezaee and Karroubi in their home towns demonstrates that electoral fraud is not only carried out to subvert the democratic will of the people but also to deny the voice of ethnic minority groups, such as the Lori, Bakhtiari and Ahwazi Arabs, who are opposed to this chauvinist regime and in particular Ayatollah Khamenei's puppet Ahmadinejad.

"Even hardline Majlis members are now admitting that the Ahmadinejad administration has a poor reputation in the province, particularly in dealing with the growing problem of drug addiction and unemployment among the youth.

"Hardliners have joined calls for a fair and just redistribution of wealth to eliminate poverty among the indigenous Arabs and realise the local population's legitimate demands.

"Ahmadinejad and his supporters say any such talk creates divisions within the Iranian population and try to suppress any debate on the economic and political situation of Ahwazi Arabs.

"Why would an overwhelming majority go and vote for this dictator?

"There are protests everywhere and the situation in Ahwaz is no different from Tehran."

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society, a London-based lobbying and advocacy group working with the Ahwazi Arabs, is urging the British government and the international community not to recognise the results of this election.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "All instruments of power are in the hands of the military and the Guards and the most ideologically driven and fundamentalist Shi'a clergy. They will not give one inch of power away, even to the so-called reformist opposition within the establishment.

"We encourage Ahwazi Arabs to organise civil society groups under any name as well as underground organisations to affect the very explosive situation.

"We call on Ahwazi Arabs to renew their intifada against the Iranian regime that began in April 2005 and rise up against this despised government, because the alternative is another four years of servitude, poverty and oppression.

"We hope that the scales will fall from the eyes of all peoples of Iran and that they will withdraw their participation in the regime's democratic charade."

Ahwaz plane 'bomb': suspicions fall on Bassij

Ahwaz plane 'bomb': suspicions fall on Bassij

The alleged terrorist attack attempt on the Kish Air flight from Ahwaz to Tehran, Iran, may have been linked to members of the paramilitary Bassij who are loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society's sources in Ahwaz.

The plane, with 140 passengers, had been en route to Tehran on Saturday May 30 when the bomb was discovered 15 minutes after takeoff. The bomb was defused and no-one was injured.

The Iranian regime has been quick to blame Arab separatists and the Mujahideen-e Khalq for the alleged attempted bomb attack on the plane. Former president Mohammad Khatami, who had been in Ahwaz to support Mir-Hussein Mousavi, had flown on the same route shortly before the bomb was discovered. Khatami's assistant Mohammad Shariati told Al-Arabiya TV that implied that hardliners, fearing a strong 'reformist' challenge to the incumbent, may have been behind the attacks.

BAFS's sources state that Ahwaz airport is under massive security, particularly during the election. One said: "There are physical checks of every passenger, x-rays of all luggage and check points around the airport. It is impossible to let an insect through the security at Ahwaz airport. The only people who could get around it are in the Revolutionary Guards and many suspect the Bassij. The regime is trying to suggest the country is under threat from separatists in order to get people to vote for the hardliner Ahmadinejad, instead of Mehdi Karrubi who has supported ethnic and religious minority rights."

Ahmadinejad won the previous presidential elections following massive bomb attacks in Ahwaz City, which helped consolidate the vote behind hardliners. At the time, presidential hopeful Mustafa Moin dismissed the claims of separatist involvement and suggested that it was an inside job. The results of the 2005 elections in the Arab-majority Khuzestan province (once known as Arabistan or Al-Ahwaz), held just weeks after an Arab intifada against the regime, gave Mehdi Karrubi a clear lead with nearly 35% of the vote, ahead of Hashemi Rafsanjani on 20%, Ahmadinejad on 14% and Moin on 10%.
Ahwaz plane 'bomb': suspicions fall on Bassij

Ahwaz plane 'bomb': suspicions fall on Bassij

The alleged terrorist attack attempt on the Kish Air flight from Ahwaz to Tehran, Iran, may have been linked to members of the paramilitary Bassij who are loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to the British Ahwazi Friendship Society's sources in Ahwaz.

The plane, with 140 passengers, had been en route to Tehran on Saturday May 30 when the bomb was discovered 15 minutes after takeoff. The bomb was defused and no-one was injured.

The Iranian regime has been quick to blame Arab separatists and the Mujahideen-e Khalq for the alleged attempted bomb attack on the plane. Former president Mohammad Khatami, who had been in Ahwaz to support Mir-Hussein Mousavi, had flown on the same route shortly before the bomb was discovered. Khatami's assistant Mohammad Shariati told Al-Arabiya TV that implied that hardliners, fearing a strong 'reformist' challenge to the incumbent, may have been behind the attacks.

BAFS's sources state that Ahwaz airport is under massive security, particularly during the election. One said: "There are physical checks of every passenger, x-rays of all luggage and check points around the airport. It is impossible to let an insect through the security at Ahwaz airport. The only people who could get around it are in the Revolutionary Guards and many suspect the Bassij. The regime is trying to suggest the country is under threat from separatists in order to get people to vote for the hardliner Ahmadinejad, instead of Mehdi Karrubi who has supported ethnic and religious minority rights."

Ahmadinejad won the previous presidential elections following massive bomb attacks in Ahwaz City, which helped consolidate the vote behind hardliners. At the time, presidential hopeful Mustafa Moin dismissed the claims of separatist involvement and suggested that it was an inside job. The results of the 2005 elections in the Arab-majority Khuzestan province (once known as Arabistan or Al-Ahwaz), held just weeks after an Arab intifada against the regime, gave Mehdi Karrubi a clear lead with nearly 35% of the vote, ahead of Hashemi Rafsanjani on 20%, Ahmadinejad on 14% and Moin on 10%.
Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds in solidarity with Pakistani Baloch over nuclear proliferation

Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds in solidarity with Pakistani Baloch over nuclear proliferation

Asserting that testing of nuclear weapons is the worst harm Pakistani occupation inflicted on Baluchistan, a Baluch group in the United States has asked the UN to take steps to stop Islamabad from conducting further nuclear tests on their land.

At an event, organised by American Friends of Baluchistan to mark the 11th anniversary of Pakistan's testing of nuclear weapons, Rasheed Baluch of Texas described May 28 as a day of mourning for nearly 20 million Baluch people all over the world.

"The three tests conducted in Chagai and two tests in Kharan are the worst harm Pakistan occupation inflicted on Baluchistan," said Rasheed Baluch, a board member of American Friends of Baluchistan.

The group called on United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take action to denuclearise Pakistan and stop it from conducting further nuclear tests in Baluchistan.

Development expert Dr Fauzia Deeba, in a detailed presentation, deplored the pitiable social conditions in Baluchistan and said the lack of clean potable water has created havoc in the lives of the people.

Two Iran-based leaders Karim Abdian, executive director, Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, and Karim Behruz, a representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran expressed solidarity with the Baluch people and Iran and urged the world, particularly the US, not to take the Iranian nuclear ambitions lightly.

Abdian called the testing of nuclear weapons on the lands of the indigenous people the worst form human rights violation.
Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds in solidarity with Pakistani Baloch over nuclear proliferation

Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds in solidarity with Pakistani Baloch over nuclear proliferation

Asserting that testing of nuclear weapons is the worst harm Pakistani occupation inflicted on Baluchistan, a Baluch group in the United States has asked the UN to take steps to stop Islamabad from conducting further nuclear tests on their land.

At an event, organised by American Friends of Baluchistan to mark the 11th anniversary of Pakistan's testing of nuclear weapons, Rasheed Baluch of Texas described May 28 as a day of mourning for nearly 20 million Baluch people all over the world.

"The three tests conducted in Chagai and two tests in Kharan are the worst harm Pakistan occupation inflicted on Baluchistan," said Rasheed Baluch, a board member of American Friends of Baluchistan.

The group called on United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take action to denuclearise Pakistan and stop it from conducting further nuclear tests in Baluchistan.

Development expert Dr Fauzia Deeba, in a detailed presentation, deplored the pitiable social conditions in Baluchistan and said the lack of clean potable water has created havoc in the lives of the people.

Two Iran-based leaders Karim Abdian, executive director, Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, and Karim Behruz, a representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran expressed solidarity with the Baluch people and Iran and urged the world, particularly the US, not to take the Iranian nuclear ambitions lightly.

Abdian called the testing of nuclear weapons on the lands of the indigenous people the worst form human rights violation.
Iran: Ahwazi Arab youth died in custody over pro-Palestinian protests, say reports

Iran: Ahwazi Arab youth died in custody over pro-Palestinian protests, say reports

http://www.ahwazna.org/images/mohamad2.jpgTwo Ahwazi Arab brothers aged 18 and eight and another youth have been arrested by Iranian security forces, reportedly in relation to Arab unrest in Ahwaz City.

The pro-secessionist Ahwazna website reported on May 15 that 18-year old Mohammed Saadoun Algelada, his eight year-old brother Majed and a friend called Karim were arrested, possibly in connection with Mohammed's involvement in recent Gaza solidarity protests. Ahwazna has published a video that it claims shows Mohammed involved in a pro-Palestinian protest in 2008.



According to Ahwazna, the three youths were arrested in early May and tortured, leading to the death of Mohammed Saadoun Algelada in custody. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has no way of verifying these claims due to the suppression of the media in Iran and a lack of any effective human rights non-governmental organisations there.

In January, the Iranian government arrested dozens of Ahwazi Arabs while violently putting down protests in Ahwaz City against Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. The protests were not sanctioned by the Iranian regime, which has sought to clamp down on any expression of Arab identity in Iran, including support for the Palestinian Arabs.
Iran's summary executions of Ahwazi Arabs

Iran's summary executions of Ahwazi Arabs

Ahwazi Arab political prisoner Mohammad Jeldawi was killed by Iranian security force in Ahwaz under the torture, according to reports received by the Danish Ahwazi Friendship Society.

Iranian authorities delivered his burnt body to them. He had been incarcerated with other two Ahwazi Arabs in Ahwaz in 18 April 2009. The other detainees are brothers Majid and Mohammad Jeldawi. Mohammad Jeldawi is just 14 years old and is being tortured. All have been accused of demonstrating against the regime and the persecution of Arabs. They are from Hay al-Thorah, a district of Ahwaz that has seen a number of Arab demonstrations and is regarded as a centre of Arab unrest.

Iraq troop withdrawal will broaden insurgency into Ahwaz

Iraq troop withdrawal will broaden insurgency into Ahwaz

The South Iraq Liberation Front has said it will extend its political struggle inside Iran to secure the "liberation" of the traditionally Arab lands around Ahwaz from Iranian "occupation".

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat the group's secretary general, Awad al-Abadan, insisted that resistance against Iran would be "through civilized dialogue with the rest of the world" which he said was "more powerful than the language of arms". According to al-Abadan, the confusion between legitimate resistance and terrorism meant that armed conflict would not be heeded by the international community. He said: "The front has not decided to use arms because we are not convinced of its usefulness."

On his movement's future programme, al-Abadan said it was focused on "self-defence", but would involve activities in Iranian cities, "since we coordinate with the Iranian opposition movement in the Arab provinces of the Ahwaz region."

He added: "We consider the Ahwaz region as part of the occupied Arab lands. It has nationalist movements that are struggling for independence. Operating within these movements is not intervention in Persian land."

Regarding Iran's influence in Iraq, al-Abadan said: "The most evident manifestations of the cultural occupation of the south are the libraries in the southern provinces that are full of books, leaflets, photographs, banners, and other paraphernalia that are used during the Feast of Ashura and other religious occasions of Iranian origin. These things are cheap to buy and subsidized by the Iranian government. This is in addition to scores of radio stations and satellite channels in Arabic beamed to the people of the south."

Al-Abadan has called for a boycott of Iranian goods in Iraq, complaining that they are flooding the market and creating a state of dependency on Iran. Instead, Iraq should open its market to goods from other Arab states to ensure that Iraqis are not vulnerable to manipulation from Tehran.

On his choice of the city of Basra as the base of the front and its limited activities in the south, Al-Abadan said: "The front began its operations in Basra because Basra was affected most by the Iranian occupation. The Iranian Consulate in Basra meddled in the daily life of Basra directly and on a daily basis without any deterrence. Then the calls for secessionist sectarianism spread to the provinces of Al-Amarah and Al-Nasiriyah. The Iranian occupation is more dangerous than the American and British occupations because the last two will inevitably leave".

Al-Abadan said he expected Iran would attempt to assassinate him, but had no fear of being in Basra. He stated that the front will continue with its activities "until the Iranian occupation and its agents are expelled from the southern provinces."

The South Iraq Liberation Front is associated with the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, Iraq's second-largest Sunni Arab group which is led by the secularist politician Saleh al-Mutlaq. The group opposes the presence of all foreign forces on Iraqi territory, including Iranian-backed operatives.

English PEN: Yousef Azizi Banitorof, Ahwazi Arab writer

English PEN: Yousef Azizi Banitorof, Ahwazi Arab writer

Writer, journalist and human rights activist Yousef Azizi was sentenced on 2 July 2008 to five years in prison for 'acting against national security', 'propaganda against the regime', 'incitement to rebellion' and 'relations with foreign officials', after a two-year trial. He is believed to be charged for his reporting on the allegedly excessive use of force by security forces against demonstrators from the Arab community in the southwestern region of Khuzestan (known locally as Al-Ahwaz).

Yousef Azizi is a member of the Arab ethnic minority, and is known for his writing in support of the rights of Arabs of Khuzestan. He is a founding member of the Iranian Writers Association and has published several books in both Arabic and Farsi.

Yousef Azizi was first arrested on 25 April 2005, and held in solitary confinement until his release on bail on 28 June 2005. Whilst on bail he and his family were subject to constant harassment and surveillance. The sentence was upheld by an appeals court in November 2008, and on 3 November 2008 Azizi left Iran to escape arrest. He remains abroad. English PEN would consider Yousef Azizi to be in great danger if he were to be repatriated, and continues to fear for the safety of his family who remain in Iran.

Yousef Azizi has been an Honorary Member of English PEN since May 2009.

"What PEN Means to Me" by Yousef Azizi

(April 2009)

I had heard of the International PEN, before I became a member of the Iranian Writers' Association in 1978, since it supported Iranian writers who were thrown in Shah's jails for defending unconditional freedom of speech. Naturally, I became more acquainted with this organization after the Iranian revolution in 1979 since the members of our association became easy targets to oppression and persecution as the pressure increased during the thirty years of the new rulers reign.

Being one of their victims, I am a good example of this. I was imprisoned, and along with my children, denied basic human rights in a country which ought to have been our home. When I was released from the solitary confinement near the end of June 2005, I was told, by some colleagues of mine, that the International PEN had declared its solidarity with my cause in a statement issued after their meeting in Portugal that year.

This solidarity had a positive effect on my morale. It strengthened me as I faced repeatedly the Iranian Intelligence Service's summons and finally the Revolutionary court which went on for more than three years. At last, in July 2008, I was sentenced to five years in prison for no other guilt than criticizing the violence exercised by Iranian security forces against peaceful demonstrations in April 2005 in the Arab minority region of Al-Ahwaz, southwest of Iran.

Since then, I have felt that there are strong ties connecting me, an Iranian Arab writer prosecuted in his home, and the International PEN. A connection that was only made richer after I personally met some of the characters in this organization, especially the English PEN. I would also like to use this occasion to recall with great appreciation what the English playwright Harold Pinter did in defending prosecuted and imprisoned Iranian writers.

Iranian writers and journalists have been suffering from extreme censorship of newspapers, media, and books, while what the non-Persian ethnicities - such as Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, Baluch, and Turkaman - have been made to endure such violation of their basic rights as prohibition of education in the language of their ancestors, which is in contradiction with all international laws and the Iranian constitution.

While non-Persian ethnicities comprise about 55% of Iran's population, they - all combined - own less than 2% of the media, publishing companies, and bookshops. The national budget, 90% of which is secured from the petroleum extracted from Al-Ahwaz region, is spent on developing and spreading the Persian language in Iran, along with Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

In this regard, a reform must take place to ensure the equality in linguistic and cultural representation of the Iranian ethnicities.

Call to Obama: Don't sideline Iran's minorities

Call to Obama: Don't sideline Iran's minorities

By Nasser Bani Assad

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society welcomes the freeing of US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi.

International pressure proved effecting in freeing Saberi, in particular US pressure. However, it should be noted that Iran is using carrots and sticks with Washington.

It is clear that Iran has no just, fair or independent judicial system. The system is manipulated by political interests. Saberi's release shows that the Iranian government makes baseless allegations against people and puts people behind bars unlawfully.

Non-Persians are targeted the most by the oppressive regime, according to news reports from Iran. The US government must consider Saberi's case being bound up with the political conflict between Iran and US. But there are are thousands of Iranian detainees, many of them from non-Persian nationalities, who have been falsely accused, imprisoned, tortured and executed due to allegations of spying for the US. Iran claims that all and any non-Persian activists are US-sponsored separatists, even when they do not advocate secession. We therefore demand that President Barack Obama raise the importance of human rights in Iran.

I was watching Voice of America Persian. They have been covering the Saberi case a lot, but have forgotten the ethnic dimension. The Iran media is talking about it, but VoA Persian is dismissing it.

Almost all the major candidates making very strong speeches and promises to consider the minorities rights issue more seriously. But it is only Mehdi Karobi who issued his fourth written statement in support of religious and ethnic minority rights. He named his plan as 'rehabilitating the ethnic and religious rights'. He is highlighting all the unimplemented Iranian constitution articles, specifically articles 3, 12, 13, 15, 19, 26, 41, 44 and 48. He says he will empower the local governments and improves the ethnic rights. This call has prompted more than 300 Ahwazi Arab intellectuals to write in support of Karobi.

This might be the reason why 300 Ahwazi Arab intellectuals wrote in support of Karobi and abandoned 'reformist' presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. They included former Ahwaz member of parliament Jasem Shadid-Zadeh, whose reformist-aligned Arab rights party, Lejnat al-Wefaq, was barred from contesting elections and eventually banned altogether as a supposedly US-backed separatist group. Shadid-zadeh said: "Mr Karobi announced his humanitarian and democratic position of supporting citizen rights, as much as he could and this is because of non-democratic decision making system and also non-existence of civil societies in Iran."

It seems that even Iranian politicians are taking up the minorities issue, aware of its importance, while President Barack Obama is ignoring minority rights, despite many activists being locked up like Ms Saberi on trumped-up charges of espionage. It is time for the world to act and take notice of Iranian minorities and the importance they have in determining the outcome of the election by defending imprisoned activists in the same way as Ms Saberi was defended and eventually released.