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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.

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