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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.