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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...

Poverty and Illiteracy in Al-Ahwaz

Poverty and Illiteracy in Al-Ahwaz

An official from Khuzestan department for the eradication of illiteracy estimates that there are 230,000 illiterate people aged under 49 in the region (Fars News Agency, 15/04/2012). This equates to around a quarter of the Ahwazi Arab population. The reality is that illiteracy among Arabs is far higher than the Iranian regime is willing to admit. Although Ahwazi Arabs suffer high levels of illiteracy both in Farsi and in their native Arabic, the regime has announced that it is building 3,000 schools in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Mayor of Ahwaz City has claimed that 20% of deaths in the past two years are among children (Fars News Agency, 28/04/2012). The municipality has not announced the specific cause of high infant mortality rates in the region. Previous surveys have indicated that malnutrition affects around 50 per cent of children in Arab populated districts. Midwifery and pre-natal service provision is also woefully poor.

AASN Spearheads Parliamentary Campaign

The Ahwazi issue is set to go to the forefront of British human rights concerns in Iran after members of the Ahwazi Arab community in the UK and Canada met with Sir Bob Russell MP at the Houses of Commons in May.

Liberal Democrat Sir Bob has supported minority rights issues, including the Palestinian cause, in the House of Commons since he was elected as MP for Colchester in 1997, but like many MPs has little experience of the Ahwazi issue. Among those representing the Ahwazis were Amir Saedi of the Ahwazi Community Association UK, Ali Ghata Ahwazi of the Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights and representatives of the Canadian Ahwazi Friendship Society and Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN). The Iranian regime’s pillaging of oil resources from traditional Arab lands, its policy of forced displacement, environmental degradation and the atrocious human rights record in Al-Ahwaz were topics of discussion.

Sir Bob agreed that the British government needs to do more to prompt multilateral bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council, to take action over the plight of indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. The main short-term objective is to ensure that UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmad Shahid, is allowed unfettered entry to Al-Ahwaz to interview political prisoners and examine living conditions in Arab districts. Sir Bob pledged to raise the Ahwazi issue in parliamentary questions and possibly move an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament, which could be signed by MPs. The AASN will be working with Sir Bob to promote the Ahwazi cause in parliament.

Meanwhile, AASN director Daniel Brett met with a representative of the National Council for Resistance in Iran to examine campaigns of mutual interest, particularly the conditions facing Ahwazi and Kurdish inmates of Camp Al-Waleed and Mujahideen-e Khalq in Camp Liberty in Iraq. 

Letters from a Dead Man

‎Ahwazi Arab political prisoner Muhammad Ali Sawari, a 38 year old teacher, was executed by the Iranian regime for "War with God" in 2007. He confessed under torture and was found guilty following deeply unfair trials in which he was denied access to lawyers, was not explained the charges against him and denied access to the prosecution's evidence against him.

For the first time and with the help of Ahwazi activists, the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network has translated his letters of appeal recently acquired by the Ahwazi Arab Centre for Human Rights.

Click here to download the Muhammad Ali Sawari's testimony.

Muhammad Ali was executed along with his brother Hamza (also referred to as Jafar) Sawari on September 11, 2007 in Ahwaz City. Along with nine other Ahwazi Arab political prisoners, he was the subject of appeals by Amnesty International (MDE 13/023/2006, 10 March 2006; MDE 13/073/2006, 29 June 2006; MDE 13/085/2006, 1 August 2006; MDE 13/041/2007, 2 April 2007; MDE 13/111/2007, 13 September 2007).

The men were reportedly accused of involvement in bomb attacks carried out in 2005 and 2006, including attacks on oil installations. The men's execution prompted spontaneous anti-government demonstrations in Ahwaz. Security forces fired on the crowds. Reports suggest that one person was killed and 20 others wounded.

Mohammad Ali Sawari and Jafar Sawari had been in prison since 2005. They were initially accused of promoting Sunni Islam. These charges were later supplemented with charges of bombing the Zergan oilfields. No evidence was produced to back up the charges. 

Mohammad Ali was an English literature graduate. Some reports claim he was also accused of translating George Orwell's book, Animal Farm, into Arabic, with the aim of sparking an uprising. According to his family, there was no allegation of bombings in his file. He established Arab youth groups in several cities to teach Arabic language and culture and ran a monthly periodical called “Al-Resaleh” (The Cause). He also set up an Arabic cultural organisation called “Sandouq Imam Ali”.

In letters published by the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network, Muhammad Ali accused the intelligence services of torturing him to confessing to the capital crime of “Muharebeh” (war with god) and claimed that the Revolutionary Courts denied him access to lawyers, refused to explain the charges against him or give him access to the evidence used against him.

Despite these appeals and a promise by the intelligence services to overrule the confessions made under duress, he was denied the right to appeal.

Following his execution, his family were reportedly told that his and his brother's bodies would not be handed back to them but would be buried by the authorities.

The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the unfairness of trials in Revolutionary Courts and to give a voice to a dead man who was executed while protesting his innocence.