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Iran security forces fire on pro-Palestinian demonstators in Ahwaz City

A demonstration by Ahwazi Arabs in solidarity with Gazan Arabs was violently put down by Iranian security forces on Thursday 8 January with the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) reporting that 37 Arab demonstrators were still being held today.

Ahwazi Arabs were responding to a call from a coalition of Ahwazi Arab democratic non-governmental organisations and staged a solidarity march. The demonstration coincided with 9th of Ashura, an important Shi'ite religious holiday in Iran and took place in Ahwaz City, where Arabs are the largest ethnic group.

Thousands gathered at an assembly point at the beginning of the march at Hay-al-Thora (Revolution Square) and proceeded towards Hay al-Azizieh (Bani-Hashem) square. Halfway into the march, Iranian security forces attacked the peaceful demonstrators, firing high calibre weapons into the air to disperse them. The security forces blocked some of the escape routes and arrested a large number of the participants.

According to AHRO, most of the demonstrators had been released by Saturday, but 37 of the organizers and participants remained in jail in Ahwazi city. Their names are:
1. Reza Ahmadi
2. Tehran Ahmadi
3. Hamid Bawi
4. Ahmad Bai-Toruf
5. Naseem Bani-Toruf
6. Muhammad Janadeleh
7. Amin Cheldawi
8. Zalan Cheldawi
9. Yousef Cehledwai
10. Gahier Hamudi
11. Rashid Haidari
12. Fouad Haidari
13. Faisal Haidari
14. Mahmoud Haidari
15. Hamzah Khasraji
16. Mansour Daghagheleh
17. Jaber Sa'duni
18. Ya'ghub Sa'idawi
19. Mansour Sawari
20. Nasrallah Sawari
21. Yasser Sawari
22. Mahdi Taruf
23. Raheem E'badi
24. Dawoood Abiat
25. Ali-Pour-Abiat
26. Muhamamdali Abiat
27. Abulamir-Fazeli
28. Bashir Krushat
29. Amar Kuroshat
30. Hammed Kan'ani
31. Aziz Kan'ani
32. Rasoul Muhammadi
33. Baber Mansouri
34. Ali Musawi
35. Nasse Mahawi
36. Ghazi Naisi
37. Musatafa Naisi

In a statement, AHRO said that the "arrests of peaceful solidarity demonstrators reveals the nature of Iranian 'support' for the Palestinian movement. Iran uses the Palestinians to implement its expansionist policy in the Middle East and the east Mediterranean. Iran's aim is to divide Arab unity and to use Gaza to retaliate against Egypt and other moderate states of the region. We request the immediate and unconditional release of the peaceful demonstrators."

The Iranian regime has quashed all non-sanctioned displays of Arabic culture by the indigenous Arabs in the southwest region, which Persians once called "Arabistan". Tehran fears a resurgence of Arab identity politics following a series of uprisings in the region, particularly following Israeli operations in Gaza which have mobilised and unified people across the Arab world. Meanwhile, the regime has conducted its own tightly controlled official demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza.