Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Ahwazi Refugees at risk in Iraq

The Iraqi government’s decision to close the Al-Waleed refugee camp, which has the support of the UNHCR, will put the lives of Ahwazi Arab refugees in danger, warn Ahwazi Arab activists. Refugees are being moved back to areas they had fled due to a campaign of intimidation, harassment and murder by Iraqi militias associated with governing parties.

Following the invasion of Iraq by US-led forces in 2003, Ahwazi Arabs faced harassment and persecution by militias supported by or sympathetic to the Iranian regime. In 2003, the UNHCR estimated there were 6,700 Ahwazi refugees in Iraq, mainly in Dujaila and Kumiet. During the war, Ahwazi “homes, crops and other property [were] confiscated” by Iraqi militias. Most Ahwazi refugees have fled Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Attempts to set up a UNHCR transit centre for 80 Ahwazi families in the outskirts of Basra were thwarted due to violent harassment. Ahwazi Arab refugees were expelled from camps in Basra and Amarah and children of Ahwazi Arab descent were expelled from Iraqi schools and universities by the post-Saddam regime. Persecution of Ahwazi refugees has been accompanied by a series of murders of Ahwazidissidents in Iraq by death squads. The Al-Waleed refugee camp was created near the border with Syria close to the Al-Tanf crossing in 2006, after Palestinian, Ahwazi Arab and Kurdish refugees were displaced by the militias. However, the Syrian authorities have refused them entry or asylum. Many Palestinian and Kurdish refugees were able to leave the camp – some with the assistance of the UNHCR – but at least 90 Ahwazi Arabs remained there in large part because, unlike Palestinians and Kurds, the Ahwazi community lacks a significant international lobbying force or a safe place for resettlement. 

Camp conditions were poor with a lack of education, healthcare and no access to sanitation or clean water.
The Iraqi government is, however, relocating the refugees back to areas they fled in the aftermath of the war, including Basra where Ahwazi refugees have been detained and threatened with deportation – an action that would represent a violation of international law.

There is no possibility of a safe return to Iran, particularly given the fact that many were given asylum by the Iraqi government during the 1980s at a time when it was hostile to Iran, an ally of Western governments and sympathetic to the Ahwazi cause. 

Iraq is a state party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the Convention against Torture (CAT), treaties which prohibit the forcible return of anyone to a country where they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Anti-Arab propaganda on Iran’s Press TV

Ahwazi activists have voiced their outrage against a documentary broadcast by Iran’s Press TV that used televised forced confessions by political prisoners to construct an outlandish conspiracy theory.
The Iranian government’s propaganda mouthpiece Press TV broadcast a documentary on 14 March claiming Ahwazi Arabs were “simple people with simple minds” and therefore vulnerable to mysterious “mind termination” brain washing techniques that turned them into violent unthinking killers.
Using theories of cult indoctrination devised by American psychologist Steve Hassan, the documentary claims that  cult-like brain-washing techniques were used by individuals living in Denmark and Canada to involve Ahwazi Arabs in armed separatist groups. The ideology of the former Iraqi Ba’athist regime is cited as a method of attracting Ahwazis into psychological mind manipulation. The documentary implies that Arab social backwardness and psychological vulnerability makes them vulnerable to brain-washing and manipulation.
The documentary goes further, suggesting the foreign-based commanders are also themselves victims of ‘mind termination’ by higher powers and implying the involvement of the US and Israel. Moreover, it states that missions are not complete until they are publicised by a compliant and credulous foreign media, in particular the BBC Persian Service.
The narrator talks of the ideas instilled by Saddam being “grounded firmly into the Arab psyche”, implying that Arabs are an enemy within and inherently untrustworthy. Such racist assumptions have underpinned the regime’s policy of discrimination against Arab citizens. The documentary infantilises Arabs, suggesting that unrest in the region is due to Arab tribes fighting each other “to secure their interests” rather than the regime’s often violent persecution of the Arab population.
Prisoners interviewed and accused of indiscriminate murder or as accessories to murder include Idan Beit-Saddah, Kaled Obeidawi, Sajjad Beit Abdullah, Maher Chabi, Hassan Abayat, Ahmad Dabat and Jasem Saedi, all of whom have been arrested over the past few months and detained without charge. The regime claims to have miraculously “deprogrammed” the individuals within weeks of incarceration.
The documentary is not the first Press TV has broadcast parroting the regime’s bizarre conspiracy theories about the Ahwazi Arabs and the reasons for increasing unrest. Last December, before it was taken off-air in the UK for violating the broadcasting code, Press TV aired forced confessions from three Ahwazi Arabs following months of incarceration in a secret Ministry of Intelligence detention centre. One of the men is now scheduled for execution on the basis of the report.