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Ahwazi Arab delegation at UN human rights session



The cause of the Ahwazi Arabs got a top-level platform at the 20th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this week.

An Ahwazi delegation led by the Ahwaz Centre for Human Rights addressed the session on 28th June to bring global attention to the Iranian regime's violent persecution of Arabs.

Bringing attention to planned Arab demonstrations in April, ACHR's Ali Saedi said: "This year, the Iranian government prepared well in advance to preempt any uprising; rounding up prominent members of the Ahwazi community, killing some under torture, broadcasting forced confessions on its international Press TV network and imposing martial law on Ahwazi Arab districts. Around 100 people were arrested in the run-up to the planned protests on March and April, in a clear attempt to intimidate the Arab population of Ahwaz."

He drew highlighted the killings of three Ahwazis killed by security forces: Naser Alboshoka (19) and Mohammad Kaabi (32) who were killed under torture few days after their arrest and 15 year old Hassan Tamer Haidari who was killed by a live bullet fired in a raid at his parents' house.

He also spoke on the recent execution of four Ahwazi Arabs, who were arrested in April 2011 after a massive demonstration called the “Ahwazi Day of Rage”, stating that they paid the ultimate penalty as part of the regime's campaign of terror against the Arab population. This was followed by the "brutal attack of Iran’s security forces on Ahwazi Arabs and the arrest of 30 people from Malashieh district in a protest against the executions." In addition, Salem Sawari (28) was killed in Sepidar prison on 14th June during a prison protest against the ill-treatment of prisoners and the planned executions.

The killings emphasised the criminal disregard of the Iranian regime for international condemnation of its treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. The European Parliament, the British Parliament and Amnesty International were among those who voiced concern about the poor human rights situation facing Ahwazi Arabs ahead of the executions.

Ali Saedi warned that up to 13 Ahwazi political prisoners were still in danger of execution, having appeared on the Iranian government's Press TV giving forced "confessions" and called on the international community to "continue their campaign to press on Iran to stop the implementation of the unfair trials against the people of Ahwaz". However, he warned that any lack of action as the world becomes preoccupied by the nuclear issue could lead to a humanitarian disaster.

The 13 political prisoners in danger of execution are:
  • Hadi Rashedi 38-year old
  • Hashem Shabani Amuri 31-year old
  • Rahman Asakereh 33-year old
  • Mohamed Ali Amuri 33-year old
  • Jabbar Albushoka 27-year old
  • Mukhtar Albushoka 25 years old
  • Khaled Abidawi 26-year old
  • Hassan Abayat
  • Idan beit Sayah 37-year old
  • Jassem Sawaedi
  • Ahmed Dabbat 21 years old
  • Maher Chabi (Ka’abi)
  • Sajjad Beit Abdullah

UN Special Rapporteurs condemn ongoing executions in Iran



Three United Nations Special Rapporteurs* on Iran, summary executions and torture condemned the recent execution of four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Ahwaz’s Karoun Prison in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Following a reportedly unfair trial, they were sentenced to death and executed on or around 19 June 2012.

“Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns remain about due process and fairness of trials in cases involving the death penalty in Iran,” said the independent human rights experts, recalling the execution of Abdul Rahman Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian, Taha Heidarian and Ali Sharif. The four men, three of whom are brothers, were reportedly arrested in April 2011 during a protest in Khuzestan and convicted of Moharebeh (enmity against God) and Fasad-fil Arz (corruption on earth).

“Under international law, the death penalty is the most extreme form of punishment, which, if it is used at all, should be imposed only for the most serious crimes,” they said. “Defendants in death penalty cases should also receive fair trial guarantees stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran in 1975.”

“Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of those international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” the three UN Special Rapporteurs stressed.

The rights experts noted with concern the high numbers of executions carried out in public, despite a circular issued in January 2008 by the Iranian Chief Justice that banned public executions. At least 25 executions have been carried out in public this year.

“Executions in public add to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and can only have a dehumanizing effect on the victim and a brutalizing effect on those who witness the execution,” the independent experts underscored.

The Special Rapporteurs regretted that the authorities continue to apply the death penalty with alarming frequency, despite numerous calls to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish a moratorium on executions. At least 140 executions are known to have been carried out since the beginning of 2012, with some sources indicating the figure to be as high as 220. The majority of these are for drug-related offences, which the experts do not believe constitute the "most serious crimes" as required by international law.

The UN independent experts urged the Iranian authorities “to halt immediately the imposition of the death penalty for crimes which do not constitute the most serious crimes, as well as ensure stringent respect for fair trial guarantees.”

* The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez.

ENDS

Check the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm

Execution of four Ahwazi Arabs sparks protests

The execution of four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners by the Iranian regime this week has sparked riots in the Arab district of Malashieh and in prisons, according to reports received by the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network.

Brothers Taha Heidarian (28), Abbas Heidarian (25), Abdul-Rahman Heidarian (23) and Ali Naami Sharifi were executed by hanging on 18 June, two weeks after they were moved from Karoon Prison to an undisclosed location. The authorities have refused to release the bodies to the men's families for a customary Islamic funeral and are likely to be buried in unmarked graves. Abdul-Jalil Heidarian, another Heidarian brother, was arrested after he began inquiries into their cases.

The executions came just days after the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty against Ahwazi Arabs and amotion was tabled in the British parliament condemning Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs.

A number of other Ahwazi Arab protesters arrested in April 2011 on the same charges are in danger of imminent execution. They include Hadi Rashedi (38), Hashim Shabani Amouri (31), Rahman Asakereh (33), Mohamed Ali Amouri (33), Jabbar Albushoka (27), Mukhtar Albushoka (25), Khaled Abideaua (26), Hassan Abayat, Jassim Sawedi, Ahmed Dabbat (21), Maher Chabi (Ka’abi), Idan Beit-Saddah and Sajjad Beit Abdullah.

Two days before the executions, Iranian security forces attacked unarmed Ahwazi Arab protesters in the Malashieh district from which the Heidarian brothers hailed. Thirty young Arab men were arrested, including Nasser Bawi  (27, married with two children), Mansour Bawi (22), Ismail Dahimi (23) and Rahim ben Haji Chanbar (38, married with six children), according to the Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights.

Unrest also affected the regions prisons, including Sepidar prison where prison guards violently put down a protest on 14 June, killing prisoner Salem Sawri (28). Prisoners also protested against prison conditions and ill-treatment in addition to the planned executions. 

The authorities charged the men with "enmity with god" and "sowing corruption on the earth" in connection with the murder of a policeman. Ahead of their trials in a secret revolutionary court, Taha Haridarian made televised confessions with other men in which he said he was part of a terrorist group called "Khalq-e Arab" (Arab people). The "confessions"  followed months of solitary confinement and torture and were broadcast by Press TV, Iran's international English language television station. A total of 18 "confessions" were shown in two broadcasts by Press TV, a subsidiary of state-owned broadcaster IRIB. 

European Parliament condemns treatment of Ahwazi Arabs


Today the European Parliament unanimously passed a motion on the treatment of ethnic minorities in Iran. It said that "minorities in Iran continue to be discriminated against and harassed due to their religious or ethnic background" and "in recent months minority groups have demonstrated, calling to be allowed to exercise such rights, which has led to large-scale imprisonment of participants". It drew particular attention to "six members of Iran´s Ahwazi Arab minority [who] are on trial after they were detained without charge for almost a year in connection with their activities on behalf of Iran´s Ahwazi Arab minority."

The EP condemned "the current disrespect of minority rights and demands that minorities be allowed to exercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law" and called upon the authorities to "eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious or ethnic grounds or against persons belonging to minorities, such as Arabs, Bahaí'is, Azeri, Baluchi, Kurds and Turkmen."

It also stated that Iranian authorities should "ensure that the arrested members of Iran´s Ahwazi Arab minority - Mohammad Ali Amouri, Rahman Asakereh, Hashem Shaabni Amouri, Hadi Rashidi, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka are tried according to international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty."

It added that the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance should visit Iran in order to report on the situation of human rights, and particularly the plight of the minorities. 

Parliamentary motion on Ahwazi Arabs

An Early Day Motion condemning the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs was put on the House of Commons' order books this week.

EDM 184 is sponsored by Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell and Mark Durkan, MP for Northern Ireland's nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. The EDM comes after the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN) organised a meeting between Sir Bob and a number of Ahwazi representatives at the House of Commons in April.
  • The motion states:That this House is appalled by the persecution and discrimination faced by the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west Khuzestan region of Iran by the authorities in Tehran that has resulted in high levels of poverty, illiteracy and child malnutrition not seen elsewhere in Iran;
  • expresses serious concern that the Iranian security forces have targeted government critics within the community, subjected them to torture and forced them to face secret and biased trials in revolutionary courts
  • condemns the reporting of confessions of those who have been held in custody without access to lawyers and who are likely to have been tortured; 
  • welcomes the recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office report on Iran highlighting the Iranian government's discriminatory practices and violence against Ahwazi Arabs and other ethnic minorities;
  • is mindful of the non-implementation of the recommendations made by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Iran of 2010 that call for the guarantee of the protection of the civil and political rights of all, particularly dissidents and members of minority groups and the end of torture and secret detention;
  • and calls on the Government to encourage the relevant Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council to seek invitations for the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit Arab districts unimpeded and interview Ahwazi Arab political prisoners without the presence of government officials and security personnel. 
previous EDM tabled in 2006 also condemned the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and drew attention to the planned execution of 10 Arab political prisoners. It was signed by 49 MPs and was one of the best supported EDMs in the session following a campaign by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, an affiliate of the AASN.

AASN director Daniel Brett said: "Early Day Motions are non-binding and most are not debated in parliament, but they can influence government policy. They serve the function of petitions, carrying the weight of parliament.

"Over the next few weeks we will be working with our partners to ensure that this EDM gets the widest possible endorsement.

"While the UK may lack political leverage over Iran's internal human rights problems, this EDM outlines the role the British government can take through multilateral means. Recognition of the persecution and discrimination faced by Ahwazi Arabs also lends weight to political asylum claims." 
Ahwazis to be displaced by half a million non-Arab settlers

Ahwazis to be displaced by half a million non-Arab settlers

Report: Ahwazi Centre for Media and Strategic Studies, Source: Ahwaznews.org

The Iranian regime is continuing its policy of "ethnic restructuring" to make Ahwazi Arabs a minority in their homeland with dozens of settlements planned on confiscated land.
The Iranian authorities are using a number of names for these projects that are designed to bring in hundreds of thousands of settlers from other parts of Iran to the Arab-majority area of Al-Ahwaz. The largest settlements are located in the "Ramen" township northeast of Ahwaz and Masjed Soleyman. None of the apartments on offer are being given to members of the local Arab population.Around half a million non-Arab settlers are expected to arrive in the region by 2015 with "Ahwaz 2" the latest planned settlement, intended to change the region's demography and make Arabs a minority.Thousands of hectares adjacent to these settlements are being confiscated with Ahwazi Arabs forced to leave, paid a fraction of the value of their land. If they refuse, the land is taken from them without payment as the law insists that no-one can thwart government projects.The objective of the land confiscation and settlement programmes is to prevent unrest among Ahwazi Arabs from destabilising this strategic oil-producing region.


Agricultural output in Ahwaz plummets 50%

Agricultural output in Ahwaz plummets 50%

Report: Ahwazi Centre for Media and Strategic Studies, Source: Ahwaznews.org

Crop output fell significantly as a result of the Iran regime's deliberate policy to harm Arab farmers' interests and confiscate their land.

Sources in Ahwaz claim that crop production has fallen by as much as 50% as water is cut off to private Arab farmers by state-owned water companies. The rising price of fuel and chemical fertilisers are also undermining farm incomes and productivity. The diversion of water from rivers in Al-Ahwaz to Isfahan and Rafsanjan are also taking a toll on Arab farmers.

Land is being confiscated by the regime by force of arms, resulting in the displacement of Arab farmers. The authorities have cracked down on those who refuse government instructions to surrender their land in return for payment well below market prices. Confiscation is being carried out in the context of the regime's ethnic cleansing programme, which was begun under the Khatami administration.