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

August edition of the Ahwaz Human Rights Update

The August edition of the Ahwaz Human Rights Update has now been published by the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network.

The latest monthly update covers the latest news on executions of Ahwazi Arabs and the worsening conditions facing political prisoners in the notorious Karoon Prison.

The report also covers the secret recording of a video by four Ahwazi detainees of Karoon Prison ahead of their execution in June in which they appealed for international intervention to halt the Iranian regime's execution campaign against Arabs.

The victims of a Ramadan clamp-down on Arabs, including the killing of a 12 year old girl by security forces, are also revealed in the fifth edition of the Update report.

Karoon prisoners facing ban on reading


Tensions have risen due to over-crowding and executions
Prison authorities have banned access to books, booklets, pamphlets and anything else in the written word in Karoon Prison in Ahwaz. The confiscation of all literature in a prison that lacks basic amenities, such as toilets and adequate food provision, is likely to fuel antagonism between guards and inmates.

According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, the security environment inside the prison has intensified following the execution of four Ahwazi Arab political prisonersThe four had made a secret video appealing to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed calling for his intervention to stop Iran's execution binge against Ahwazi dissidents. Karoon Prison witnessed rioting by inmates following the executions.

According to the Meli Mazahdi website, in recent days security units attached to the Khuzestan Prisons Organisation have carried out prison searches without prior notice given to the prison authorities. The political section of the prison is under the control of special forces in order to terrorise prisoners.

Karoon prison has a security and political section that holds the largest number of Ahwazi Arab political prisoners in Iran. The section is cramped with only five toilets shared by more than 300 prisoners of whom around 100 are political prisoners and the rest are dangerous gangsters and drug addicts. The section is over-capacity and many inmates are forced to live and sleep in the toilet areas and corridors. The prison is under the control of the IRGC with prison officials selected from the IRGC. There is a close relationship between Karoon Prison and secret detention facilities run by the Ministry of Intelligence.

There is a lack of access to clean water and prisoners are forced to buy drinking water from guards. Inmates suffer malnutrition caused by inadequate calorific value and no vegetables and fruit as well as food-borne diseases caused by unsanitary preparation. Medical care is insufficient and there is a shortage of medicine. There are routine incidents of physical abuse and theft by guards during inspections.

Zia Nabavi, a student activist arrested for his involvement in the Council to Defend the Right to Education and exiled from Tehran to spend 15 years in ‘internal exile’ in Karoon Prison, said in a recent interview: “In ward 6 of Karoun prison in Ahvaz, at times, I really felt like I was living on the brink of what distinguishes a human’s life from an animal’s. Under those conditions, nothing was more dear to me than [the existence of] a binding law that would guarantee my safety and provide me with personal boundaries for the purpose of thinking and reflecting. If anyone thinks that morals and ethics or customs could play such a role [in place of a binding law], they are entirely mistaken. I, with all my pretension of respect for democracy and intellect, was not prepared to give my friends, who were dealing with the same problems as me, the opportunity to sleep on the bed [in the prison cell] or take a shower- nor was I even ready to offer them such chances out of politeness.”

Solitary confinement is a regular practice to punish prisoners and extract confessions. Iran Briefing states: "There are specials cells at the Karoon prison where political prisoners are psychologically and physically tortured; they are hung upside down and beaten with batons while blindfolded and restrained."

Visitors also complain of abusive treatment by prison officials, including undignified bodily searches. Some family members are refused access to prisoners if they wear traditional Arabic dress. Depriving prisoners of family visits and telephone calls is used as a form of punishment.
Iranian forces in Ramadan crackdown on Arab villages

Iranian forces in Ramadan crackdown on Arab villages


The Iranian regime has stepped up its clamp-down against Arabs in villages and suburban areas of Al-Ahwaz.

Fifteen Ahwazi Arabs in Eabodeh village in the suburbs of Ahwaz City were arrested on charges of conversion to Sunnism, which can lead to lengthy prison terms. The Iranian government has also banned the use of the red keffiyeh, a symbol of struggle for the Ahwazis. Those who wear the red keffiyeh are accused of being Wahhabi, ultra-conservative Sunni, as the security forces associate it with Saudis.

On July 26, masked intelligence officers raided homes in Mowailhah village, Bawi county, and arrested several youths: Jomaeh Hamidawi, Naeem Hamidawi and Aziz Hamidawi, all sons of Abdulreza Hamidawi; Ahmad Hamid and Reda Hamid, both sons of Atiya Hamid; Hamid Hamidawi and Muslim Hamidawi, both sons of Rasool Hamidawi; Mansour Salamat, son of Motayer Salamat; Faisal Hamidawi, son of Abdulaali Hamidawi; Mohammad Hamid, son of Aziz Hamid; Thamer Jameae from Waiys town; Yousef Mayahi from Waiys; Abdullah Naisi from Mowailhah.

There were also arrests reported in Shaiban. In Zergan district, authorities arrested: Bagher Gholami (Naami), Abu Ehagh, Hamid Sabea (Abu Mustafa), Hakem Eawayed (Abu Safa), Sabah Sharbaz (Abu Nasser) and Mansour Askari (Abu Ali).

A 12 year old Ahwazi Arab girl was killed and four members of her family were severely injured after Iranian security forces opened fire during raids on their village of Sariya in Khafajiya (Susangerd) on July 21.
Prominent Ahwazi Arab activist arrested

Prominent Ahwazi Arab activist arrested

Habib Helfi, an Ahwazi Arab political activist, was arrested at his home in Hamidiya on July 21st and is being held in detention by the Ministry of Intelligence.

He has been arrested twice before and was sentenced for two years imprisonment, released three years ago. His brother Ali Helfi, a human rights activist, is serving a 30 years prison sentence and then exile in Gonabad in Khorasan province.

Ali Helfi has been in custody since 2000, when he was arrested on charges of "insurgency". However, he was shown on television in 2006 "confessing" to carrying out bomb attacks on oil pipelines in October 2005, even though he was in prison at the time. Amnesty International has previously raised concerns that he may be executed.

Over the past six months, 70 Ahwazi political activists in Hamidiya, a focus of anti-government protests, have been arrested and detained amid a crackdown by the regime. 

Ahwazi Arab child killed in Ramadan dish clamp-down

A 12 year old Ahwazi Arab girl was killed and four members of her family were severely injured after Iranian security forces opened fire during raids on their village of Sariya in Khafajiya (Susangerd) on July 21.

The attacks occurred after locals protested against security personnel confiscating satellite dishes. Lilla Ghasen Hamid Obaidawi was hit by live ammunition and was rushed to Golestan hospital in Ahwaz city. The other members of her family - Ghasem Hamid Obaidawi (29), Ibrahim Hamid Obaidawi (26), Rahim Hamid Obaidawi (24) and Karim Hamid Obaidawi (19) - were sent to the local hospital and are being kept under armed guard. The government has cut internet access in the district.

The reasons for the satellite dish clamp-down are unclear. The government may be attempting to prevent Ahwazi Arabs from watching Arabic satellite channels. It fears the popularity of a big budget television series aired by Dubai-based MBC on the life of Caliph Omar, who is revered among Arab Sunnis but viewed negatively by the Persian Shi'ite establishment; Omar defeated Persia's Sassanid empire in the seventh century. The series is being broadcast each night throughout Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. The government fears the rise in conversions of Ahwazi Arabs from Shi'ism to Sunnism.

The government could also be using it as an excuse to intimidate the local population, which is increasingly restive amid growing unease over living conditions. Sariya is facing severe drought with low water levels in the Karkhe river affecting the productivity of water buffalo herds, the villagers' main agricultural activity. As a result, residents are becoming more concerned about their livelihood and the government's indifference.

Amnesty: Five Ahwazi Arab Iranians to be Executed

Mohammad Ali Amouri
Amnesty International report

Five members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority have been sentenced to death and may be at risk of imminent execution. They were reportedly tortured. A sixth Ahwazi Arab man was sentenced to 20 years in prison. All were arrested in connection with their activities on behalf of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority and are believed to have been tried unfairly.
On 7 July 2012, Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, and teachers Hashem Sha’bani Amouri, Hadi Rashidi (or Rashedi) and Rahman Asakereh were sentenced by Branch 2 of the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court after conviction of charges including the vaguely-worded offences of “enmity against God and corruption on earth" (moharebeh va ifsad fil-arz), “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. Five received death sentences, except Rahman Asakereh who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, to be served in internal exile. Two of the men were shown on a government television channel before the trial “confessing” to the allegations. The men are currently held in Karoun prison in the city of Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, and are believed to have been denied access to their lawyers and families. All six were arrested at their homes in February and March 2011.
According to his family, Mohammad Ali Amouri was tortured or otherwise ill-treated during his first seven months in detention. Hadi Rashidi was hospitalized after his arrest, apparently as a result of torture or other ill-treatment, and is said to be in poor health. Family members have said that Sayed Jaber Alboshoka appears to have lost 10 kg and that Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka has experienced depression and memory loss as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. Hashem Sha’bani Amouri is said to have had boiling water poured on him.
All six were arrested in advance of the sixth anniversary of widespread protests by Ahwazi Arabs in April 2005. Mohammad Ali Amouri was arrested 20 days after his forcible return from Iraq. He had fled from Iran to Iraq in December 2007: he was said to have been sought by the authorities for organizing protests during the widespread anti-government demonstrations in April 2005. He was arrested in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, charged with entering Iraqi territory illegally and sentenced to serve one year’s imprisonment in al-‘Amara prison. He completed his prison sentence (see UA 3/09, 7 January 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE14/001/2009/en) and was forcibly returned to Iran in January 2011.
Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi were featured in a programme aired by Iran’s state-controlled English-language TV station, Press TV, on 13 December 2011, in which they appeared to “confess” to the allegations against them. International fair trial standards guarantee the right not to be forced to incriminate oneself or to confess guilt. Both men were reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention. Iranian courts frequently accept “confessions” extracted under duress as evidence.
Another Ahwazi Arab man, Taha Heidarian, was shown in the same programme making a “confession” in connection with the killing of a law enforcement official in April 2011 amidst widespread protests in Khuzestan. On or around 19 June 2012, he and three other Ahwazi Arab men were executed in Karoun Prison, according to activists close to the family, after apparently being convicted by a Revolutionary Court of “enmity against God and corruption on earth" in connection with the killing.
The Ahwazi Arab minority are one of many minorities in Iran. Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the south-western province of Khuzestan. Most are Shi’a Muslims but some are reported to have converted to Sunni Islam, heightening government suspicion about Ahwazi Arabs. They often complain they are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing, political participation and cultural rights.
There were mass demonstrations in Khuzestan province in April 2005, after it was alleged the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to take other measures to weaken their Arab identity. Following a series of bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in 2005, which killed at least 14 people, the cycle of violence intensified, with hundreds of people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arbitrary arrests. At least 15 men were later executed as a result of their alleged involvement in the bombings.
Hundreds of members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were reportedly arrested before, during and after demonstrations on 15 April 2011. The demonstrations had been called a “Day of Rage” to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2005 mass demonstrations. At least four Ahwazi Arab men reportedly died in custody between 23 March and mid May 2011, possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. Others – including Hadi Rashidi - were hospitalized around the same time, apparently as a result of injuries sustained from torture or other ill-treatment.
Between 10 January 2012 and the beginning of February, in the lead-up to parliamentary elections held on 2 March, between 50 and 65 people were reportedly arrested in at least three separate locations in the province; at least two deaths in custody were also reported. In the immediate lead-up to the 15 April anniversary, from late March until mid-April 2012, at least 25 Ahwazi Arabs were reportedly arrested following protests in cities across the province.

Latest documentary: Iran's execution campaign against Ahwazi Arabs


International condemnation of Iran’s treatment of its persecuted and impoverished Ahwazi Arab minority is growing as the government continues its campaign of execution against Ahwazi dissidents.The European Parliament, Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi and leading international human rights organisations have voiced increasing alarm at the number of death sentences imposed and carried out by the government in recent weeks. Last month four Ahwazi political prisoners were executed for “enmity with God” and “sowing corruption on the Earth”. This following trials widely condemned as flawed. Five more have been sentenced to death in recent days. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Intelligence tortured two young Ahwazis to death just days after they were arrested. Their crime was daubing graffiti calling for an election boycott in Arab neighbourhoods.Shortly before their execution in June, three brothers - Taha Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian and Abdul-Rahman Heidarian and the friend Ali Sharifi secretly filmed an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed calling for his intervention to halt the campaign. They vehemently denied the murder charges against them and detailed three months of torture, sometimes in the presence of the public prosecutor, in which they finally agreed to sign false confessions. They also voiced their opposition to terrorism and violence, saying their only interest was to protest against the persecution of their community.Five others condemned to death following trials condemned as deeply unfair are Hadi Rashedi, Hashem Shabani, and Mohammad-Ali Amouri and two brothers Seyed Mokhtar Alboshokeh and Seyed Jaber Alboshokeh.According to Human Rights Watch, the five were arrested by security forces in February 2011. They have all been found guilty of being linked to a terrorist organisation and involvement in shootings that authorities say occurred in and around the town of Khalafabad in Khuzestan province in 2010. However,UNHCR mandated refugee Muhammad Ali Amoori had been in prison in Iraq from 2007 until he was illegally repatriated in early 2011. He had fled Iran after the reformist group to which he belonged, the Lejnat al-Wefaq, had been banned after it won control of Ahwaz City Council and secured a seat in parliament. Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Directed Sarah Leah Whitson stated that there was no evidence presented against the men and no transparency in the conviction and sentencing. Human rights groups such as Justice for Iran are now calling for Iranian officials involved in the persecution of the country's Arab minority to be subject to international sanctions.Iran fears the upsurge in Ahwazi unrest in its oil-rich and strategically important Khuzestan province, located in the southwest bordering Iraq. Attacks on pipelines by Ahwazi militant groups have shaken a regime that is desperate to sustain oil exports amid increasing isolation. It has claimed, without proof, thatAhwazis are supported by an array of Arab and Western governments as well as Israel, Al-Qaeda and international oil producers. The root cause of the unrest, according to human rights groups, is long-standing political marginalisation, social discrimination and high levels of poverty. With poverty rates exceeding 50% and deaths through child malnutrition accounting for a fifth of all deaths over the past two years, the Ahwazi Arab population’s impoverishment is in stark contrast to the wealth of Iran’s Arab neighbours. Yet traditional Ahwazi Arab lands account for 90% of Iran’s oil revenues and 10% of OPEC output – more than Kuwait and the UAE combined. The fall of the Assad regime would further encourage Ahwazis to confront the Iranian government over long-standing grievances. In this context, the execution campaign is a desperate attempt to silence Ahwazi dissent.

Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation execution appeal

Source: Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation
Reports from the region of Arabistan (Ahwaz) confirm that the Iranian authorities have recently issued death sentences against 5 Ahwazi Arabs and prison sentences against 3 others on charges of “threatening national security” and “Enmity against God”.  This comes after the execution of four Ahwzi Political activists last month on similar charges.
The group includes 8 activists and intellectuals of the Arab people in the province of Ahwaz, and named as follows:
  1. Mohammad Ali Amoori, 33 years of age, civil engineer, a student activist and founder of the Arab students’ publication “Turath”(Culture) in the city of Isfahan. He was extradited to Iran by the Iraqi authorities in 2011 despite having been officially recognised as a refugee by UNHCR in Iraq.
  2. Hashem Shabani(Amoori), 31, married with one child, holding MA in languages and Arab literature, also a post graduate with a Masters degree in political science.
  3. Hadi Rashedi, 37, single, teacher with a Masters degree in chemistry.
  4. Sayed Jaber Alboushoukeh, 27, civil rights activist.
  5. Sayed Mokhtar Alboushoukeh, civil rights activist.
  6. Rahman Asakereh, holds a Masters in sociology and is a chemistry teacher, sentenced to 20 years in prison in exile in a Mashhad prison or probably in a prison in the city of Yasooj in northern Iran.
  7. Ali Badri sentenced to 6 years in prison.
  8. Asmail Obeyat sentenced to 5 years in prison.

According to reports from Ahwaz the Islamic revolutionary court, branch II in the city of Ahwaz, has already issued the verdicts but not made them public, probably waiting until the last minute before execution or for the sentences to be endorsed by the high court in Tehran.
 It has also been reported by Ahwazi activists that the security forces are planning in the coming days to transfer the prisoners to a secret location in solitary confinement in order to be executed in secret later.
The Iranian authorities so far have presented no credible evidence against the men except for the state managed televised “confessions” on state-controlled television.
It has been well documented that Islamic courts in Iran often accept these "confessions" extracted under duress and torture and use them as an evidence to convict the accused.
In April 2005, Ahwaz was the scene of mass protests after reports that the Iranian government planned to disperse the Ahwazi Arab population in an effort to change the demographic fabric of the region in favour of non-Arabs and to erase its Arab identity.
Since then, there have been several protests and riots, in commemoration of what has become known as the Nissan (April) uprising of 2005, resulting in many arrests and executions of Ahwazi activists, in several towns and cities.
While the Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) condemns in the strongest terms these sentences and all other executions carried out by the Iranian regime against the Ahwazi Arabs and all other citizens of the peoples of Iran, it appeals to all humanitarian organisations and bodies in Iran and around the world  to urge the Iranian authorities to immediately quash these sentences, halt all executions and release political prisoners in accordance with the universal human rights and international protocols and conventions.
Iranian torture of Ahwazi prisoners over execution furore

Iranian torture of Ahwazi prisoners over execution furore

Three Ahwazi political prisoners are being tortured in relation to a pre-execution video appeal to UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed. The four men who made the video, who were executed last month, were wrongly convicted by the Iranian revolutionary courts of terrorist acts following trials that were widely condemned by Iranian, Ahwazi and international NGOs and three UN Special Rapporteurs.

The prisoners accused of involvement in the video leak were transferred from Karoon Prison to facilities run by the Ministry of Intelligence. They are under intense interrogation and severe torture, according to Ahwazi human rights activists. The three prisoners are engineer Ghazi Haidari (39), Nazem Beraihi (27) and Yahya Naseri (32). The authorities are keen to blame them for the video in which four condemned men, now executed, protested their innocence thereby causing huge embarrassment to the regime. Interrogations involving torture are usually used to extract false confessions.

Haidari, a former employee of a metal pipe company, was arrested in April 2009 in relation to his cultural activities and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He had always supported non-violent activism. Under torture, he has suffered a fractured ribcage. Beraihi was a student in an Islamic school - Hawza-e-Ilmiya  - and was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but the term was lengthened to life imprisonment. Naseri was arrested in 2005 along with Beraihi and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Concerns are also rising over the fate of protesters arrested in peaceful demonstrations against the recent executions. Two sons of Almlashih-based Shi'ite clergyman Shaya Haidari, Jassim (25) and Mohammed (22), have been arrested and their whereabouts unknown, according to the Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights. The relatives do not know the charges against them.

Separately, there is alarm over the abduction by security forces of Leila Baghlani, a 32-year old Ahwazi Arab student of Ramez Azad University. She was taken on 13 June and is believed to have been targeted because she is an Arab social and cultural activist. Her family are unaware of her whereabouts. Ahwazi activists are trying to establish more information on her disappearance and are deeply concerned for her wellbeing.

Five Ahwazi Arabs to face death penalty

Just days after four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners were executed amid international condemnation, the Iranian regime's revolutionary courts have sentenced a further five prisoners to death.

Mohammed Amouri, Hadi Rashidi, Hashem Shaabani and brothers Jaber al-Boushakeh and Mukhtar al-Boushakeh were sentenced to hanging for "enmity with God". Three other Ahwazis were convicted of the same crime but were given prison sentences: Ali Badri (four years imprisonment) Ismail Abayat (five years), Abdul Rahman Asakereh (20 years).

Mohammad Ali Amoori (33), arrested in February 2011, is a fisheries engineer originally from Ahwaz City who relocated to Khalafabad. He graduated from Isfahan University with a degree in aquaculture and natural resources. He was one of the founding editors of the student newspaper Torath (Heritage) and was also an active blogger. He taught in some of the high schools in Khalafabad. He was originally inspired into political activism by the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. He had proposed a plan to form a civic institution called Al-Hewar (Dialogue), but permission was denied by the Ministry of the Interior. He was later involved in the Lejnat al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), an Arab political association that was allowed to contest elections and won a number of seats in municipal councils, including a majority on Ahwaz City Council, as well as the Ahwaz seat in the Iranian Majlis. However, the organisation was banned by the government and he was forced to flee to Iraq in 2007 with Shahid Shaabani Amouri and Fares Silawi where he was arrested and detained for five years. Although he had refugee status, he was repatriated to Iran and arrested by the authorities. Fares was killed under torture in Iraq.

Hadi Rashedi (37), single was arrested on 28 February 2011 with his brother Habibullah Rashidi, former chair of Khalafabad municipal council. A highly qualified post-graduate with an MSc in chemistry, he worked in local high schools as a teacher. He has a keen interest in cultural issues and is an advocate for the poor. He suffers from heart disease and as such is exempt from military service. During his imprisonment, he has suffered considerable mental stress, developing a serious digestive disorder as a result. As a result of beatings, he has a fractured hip. He appeared in a documentary aired by Iran’s Press TV in which he was forced to confess to firing a gun at buildings housing security personnel and government officials in Khalafabad. He was described as a member of the ‘Khalq-e Arab’, although no single organisation operates with this name.

Hashem Shaabani (31), arrested in February 2011, is originally from Ahwaz City and a resident of Khalafabad. He is married with one child. He has a Bachelor degree in Arabic language literature and education and holds a Masters degree in Political Sciences from Ahwaz University. He has written poetry in Arabic and Farsi and teaches Arabic language and Arabic literature in high schools. He is a cultural, civil and student activist and also a blogger. He takes care of his elderly parents. His father Khalaf Shaabani was disabled while fighting Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq War. Due to their son being arrested, his parents are suffering both physically and mentally. In December 2011, he was featured on Iran’s international television station Press TV in which he was forced to confess to being involved in separatist terrorism and supporting Ba’athism in Iraq. He was also made to claim that he had assistance from Hosni Mubarak and Muammer al-Qadafi, the former rulers of Egypt and Libya. Those who know him state that he has never supported armed insurgency against the Iranian state, let alone had contact with foreign governments.

Rahman Asakereh (33) is married and father of five children. He has a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Khorramabad University and an MA in Social Sciences from Ahwaz University. He was in the process of editing his Master’s thesis, which was focused on the difficulties faced by bilingual students in the Iranian education system, when he was arrested. He worked as a chemistry teacher in local high schools and conducted free courses for university entrance exams for Arab youth. He was active at a regional level in cultural and civic activities and was a student activist at the universities he attended. Rahman Asakereh’s 14 year-old son Hamed Asakereh (pictured on right) died on September 13, 2011 after he was hit by a police car in suspicious circumstances while his father was in prison. It is suspected that Hamed was murdered to cause distress to Rahman.

Jabar al-Boushokeh, 27 years old and from Khalafia, was arrested on 13 March 2011. He is married with one daughter and was working for his father, Mohammad al-Boushoka, in a rock grinding company. He was also an engaged in social welfare activities. He was arrested with his brother, Mokhtar al-Boushokeh (25), who was one year into his two-year military service. The brothers are understood to have been tortured over a period of four months. As a result, Jabar has lost around 10kg in weight and Mokhtar is suffering mental health problems and is said to be permanently shaking and unaware of where he is.

Ahwazi Arab protest in London; 'Green movement' upset

Members of London's Ahwazi Arab community gathered outside Downing Street yesterday to protest against the recent executions of Arab political prisoners, but were met with hostility from supporters of the self-proclaimed 'opposition' Green movement.

Ahwazis voiced their support for the British government's call for UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed to enter Iran and assess the human rights situation facing minority groups. A recent video statement by Ahwazi prisoners before they were hanged emphasised the importance of getting Ahmed Shaheed into the country.

The demonstration was opposed by supporters of the Green movement who were holding a simultaneous demonstration in support of Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who are under house arrest. They complained to the police over the use of the Ahwazi flag, but no action was taken. However, Kurdish protesters who attended in support of the Green movement joined with the Ahwazis in solidarity.


Nasser Bani Assad, spokesperson for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The Green movement, a faction of the Iranian regime, has failed to garner much interest among Ahwazi Arabs in Iran. The Green movement has not once condemned the executions of innocent Ahwazi Arabs who have.


"Not one month goes by without an Ahwazi Arab being murdered yet not one member of this fake opposition has raised a voice against the regime's anti-Arab execution campaign. Instead, their supporters abroad want to silence the Ahwazi voice on the streets of London.


"The Green movement is irrelevant because it refuses to address the marginalisation and persecution faced by ethnic and religious minorities. Its leaders are yesterday's men. Musavi himself is a cruel torturer and murderer. He is no democrat. He should stand on trial with the dictator Khamenei and others for crimes against humanity."


Nobel Prize Winner joins condemnation of Ahwazi executions

Nobel Prize Winner joins condemnation of Ahwazi executions

The following statement was signed by a number of Ahwazi, Iranian and international organisations and condemns the recent executions of four Ahwazi Arabs
Concurrent with the execution of four Iranians in Saudi Arabia, and despite warnings by human rights activists and institutions, four Ahwazi Arab prisoners-- Taha Heidarian, Abdolrahman Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian, and Ali Sharifi-- were secretly executed by the Iranian authorities. The prisoners- three of them brothers- were arrested following civil unrest and protests in April 2011 in Ahwaz (Capital of the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan). According to reliable reports, the Heidarian brothers and Ali Sharifi were charged and convicted of  of Moharebeh (waging war against God) after they had given confessions under torture. They were denied fair trials or any other legal proceedings, and their most basic rights as political prisoner were violated. Furthermore, their bodies were not returned to their families and civil protests in objection to their executions were suppressed.
Many of the Arab prisoners are held in security detention centers in the province of Khuzestan or in prisons across Iran. There is particular concern surrounding the unclear statuses of the other Ahwazi Arab political prisoners who share the same case file as the Heidarian brothers and Ali Sharifi.
Death penalty in Iran- particularly the executions carried out in public- are the main tools to spread fear in the society and promote a culture of violence among the people. Often times, victims of the execution belong to the most defenseless social groups in the Iranian society. Ethnic and religious minorities which as a result of the systematic discrimination have been marginalized, are a main targets of the Iranian authority’s lawless system.
The right to life is the most fundamental human right. The denial of this right makes it impossible to uphold any other human right. We, the undersigned, condemn the execution of the four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners,  and urge human rights defenders and organizations to reflect the voices of those on death row in Iran and act immediately to save their lives. We welcome the recent joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteurs condemning the executions and urge the United Nation’s Human Rights Council to react to these executions by issuing a statement. We also urge the UN General Secretary Bang Ki Moon to give urgent attention to the issue of the arbitrary executions in Iran.
The Campaign in Support of Imprisoned Ahwazi Arabs Condemned to Death, July 2, 2012
    2.    Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation
    3.    Arseh Sevom (Third Sphere)
    4.    Center for Combating Racism and Discrimination against Arabs in Iran (CCRDAI)
    5.    Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR)
    6.    European Ahwazi Human Rights Organization
    7.    International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
    8.    Iran Human Rights
    9.    Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
    10.  Justice for Iran NGO
    11.  Kurdish Human Rights Association 
    12.  Kurdish Human Rights Network
    13.  The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
    14.  The Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran
    15.  United4Iran


AASN publishes briefing on recent executions of Ahwazis

The Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network has published a briefing document giving comprehensive information on the execution of four Ahwazi Arabs last month, including a full English translation of their dramatic appeal to the United Nations in a secret video recording inside prison.

The briefing gives an insight into the treatment of Ahwazi Arab political prisoners by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and its Revolutionary Courts as well as the Iranian government’s refusal to bow to concerns and condemnation expressed by the international community – the UNHRC, the European Parliament and non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International.

On 18 June 2012, brothers Taha Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian and Abdul-Rahman Heidarian and Ali Naami Sharifi, all from Ahwaz City’s Malashieh neighbourhood, were executed at Karoon Prison in Ahwaz. They were all arrested in April 2011 following anti-government protests by Arabs. The authorities refused to release the bodies to the men's families for a customary Islamic funeral and were likely buried in unmarked graves. Abdul-Jalil Heidarian, another Heidarian brother, was arrested after he began inquiries into the whereabouts of the bodies.
The men were sentenced to death following convictions for "enmity with god" and "sowing corruption on the earth" in connection with the alleged murder of a policeman. Ahead of their trials in a secret revolutionary court, Taha Heidarian made televised confessions with other detained Ahwazi Arabs 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. The “confessions” included alleged “mind termination” techniques used by Western powers, Israel and Ahwazi opposition groups to turn “simple people with simple minds” into killers and other far-fetched and unproven claims.[1]
The trials of the men were described as lacking transparency with “major concerns remain about due process and fairness” by three UN Special Rapporteurs in a statement issued following the executions.[2] The executions came after a vote in the European Parliament condemning the treatment of Ahwazi Arabs and calling on the Iranian regime to drop the use of the death penalty against Ahwazi political prisoners.
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). In Sepidar Prison 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. Rioting also occurred in Malashieh and in prisons following the executions.
Below is a translation of a statement recorded secretly by the men from inside prison before their execution. The video, which was smuggled out of prison, shows the political prisoners addressing UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed directly to protest their innocence and condemn the unfair trial that found them guilty of "enmity with God" and "sowing corruption on the earth". They describe the use of by their interrogators and the state prosecutor and urge international action to prevent further executions and to support the peaceful Ahwazi struggle against poverty, persecution and state terror. The video was published on the Al-Arabiya TV website.[3]
Ali Sharifi and Taha Heidarian read similar statements. Ali Sharifi introduced himself, stating that he was born in 1986, resident of Malashiya, educated to year nine at school and single. Taha Heidarian introduced himself as the son of To’mah known as Ali Karim Salih Madhi, a resident of Malashiya, educated to secondary level graduation. The statement indicates that Taha Heidarian recanted the forced confession he made on Press TV. Below is the statement given by both men.

Translation of the video statement
In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate
To:
All free people against oppression and injustice, international and human rights organisations, human rights defenders and awakened minds and His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Shaheed Human Rights, UN Special Representative on Iran: [...]
I was arrested on 20 April 2011 by the Ministry of Intelligence and kept for three months at a notorious detention centre, experiencing the worst severest psychological and physical torture. My friends and I were held blindfolded in dark and notorious cells. Under torture they told us to cooperate and threatened us with death unless we confessed what they dictated to us.
They also brought Branch 18 prosecutor Mr Ahmedi in Ahwaz to the intelligence services detention centre. In his presence we experienced physical torture and the threat of execution. Mortaza Kiasati of Branch 4, sentenced me and my friends [...] to death. We are still unaware when it [the execution] will take place.
We live in the very poor neighbourhood of Malashiya in Ahwaz, next to the biggest steel manufacturing complex in Iran where most of its workforce comes from outside Ahwaz [region]. Our neighbourhood suffers from the highest level of poverty, unemployment and drugs problems with lowest civil, health and social services. We do not get anything from oil and gas fields, but the smoke. River diversion to central Iran has destroyed farming with the remaining land confiscated by colonial sugar cane companies. I have felt the hardships of my people all my life.
Like other Arabs, I took part in the April 15 2005 intifada to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Iranian occupation of Ahwaz and to protest against the secret document leaked from the office of [vice-president] Mohammad Ali Abtahi. This document outlined the ways in which the numbers of Arabs in the region would be reduced, by transferring them to other areas. I participated alongside my brothers and friends in the neighbourhood and the rest of our people in a revolution of the hungry, barefooted and oppressed against oppression, discrimination and racism.
We continued to protest to commemorate the annual anniversary of the occupation until 2011 when I was arrested during a peaceful protest. All protests gathering were peaceful until the security, army and Basij revolutionary guards tried to put them down and were pelted with stones and burning tyres to stop their vehicles advance and responded by attacking protesters with guns, snipers, poisonous and tear gases. We are eye witnesses to the killing and injuring of many youth, among them our brothers Yunis and Yusef Shomosi, by live rounds during the protests.
We are peaceful and opposed to oppression and terrorism. We are young people who want to hold protests and peacefully demand the rights of the Ahwazi Arab nation. We are innocent of the charges of ‘waging war against God and its Prophet’ and ‘corruption on the earth’. We were sentence to death by hanging in unfair court hearings. We all want to achieve political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Arab people of Ahwaz. We are youths demanding our people’s rights by peaceful protest.
Through this message, which carries risks that we will be held accountable for in case we are discovered, we call on all international and human rights organisations, particularly Ahmed Shaheed, to pursue efforts and to try to halt the executions.
Finally, we note that we did not send this message because we fear the death. Whatever Gods decides will happen
Peace and God's mercy and blessings are upon you.

[1] “Al-Ahvazi Terrorist Groups in Khuzestan”, Press TV, 14 March 2012; Al-Ahwazi terrorist group in Iran, Press TV, 13 December 2011
[2] “UN Special Rapporteurs condemn ongoing executions in Iran”, press release issued by: 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; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 28 June 2012
[3]تسريب تسجيل لمعتقلين أهوازيين قبل إعدامهم في إيران”, Al-Arabiya, 4 July http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/07/04/224488.html

Secret video statements by Ahwazi Arab martyrs

Four Ahwazi Arabs recorded a secret statement appealing for international intervention before they were executed two weeks ago.

The video, which was smuggled out of prison, shows the political prisoners addressing UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed directly to protest their innocence and condemn the unfair trial that found them guilty of "enmity with God" and "sowing corruption on the earth". Brothers Taha Heidarian (28), Abbas Heidarian (25), Abdul-Rahman Heidarian (23) and Ali Naami Sharifi were accused of murdering a policeman and being members of an armed opposition group, charges they denied.

In his statement, Ali Sharifi said he spent three months in a prison run by the Ministry of Intelligence after he was arrested in April 2011. He described the use of physical and psychological torture against him and others arrested with him in order to force them to agreeing a confession. The prosecutor of Branch 18 of the Revolutionary Court, Mr Ahmadi, was present during the torture sessions and threatened the men with death. Sharifi said the men were not informed of when they were sentenced to death by revolutionary court judge Ghazi Abdul Rahman Abbas. 

Sharifi pointed to the long-standing suffering of the Ahwazi Arab people, which motivated him to take a peaceful stand against the Iranian regime.

He said: "Thousands of families are living in poverty in the vicinity of Iran's largest steel plants, which employ people mostly from outside Ahwaz. The area has high unemployment and rampant drug abuse as well as poor health and social amenities, but suffer as a result of pollution from the oil and gas industries. Agriculture has been destroyed in Ahwaz due to river diversion projects and sugar cane plantations.

"I have felt the hardships of my people all my life. Like other Arabs, I took part in the April 15 2005 intifada to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Iranian occupation of Ahwaz and to protest against the secret document published by the Office of Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi. This document outlined the ways in which the numbers of Arabs in the region would be reduced, by transferring them to other areas.

"Our people are peaceful and opposed to oppression and terrorism. We are young people who wanted to hold protests and peacefully demand the rights of the Ahwazi Arab nation ... We all want to achieve political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Arab people of Ahwaz.

"We appeal to all human rights organisations and governments around the world, especially His Excellency Ahmed Shaheed, to stop the executions and other unjust treatments."

The Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN) has submitted a motion in the British Parliament condemning the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and calling for UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed to visit the Al-Ahwaz region. It has been endorsed by a broad range of Members of Parliament.

The executions came after a vote in the European Parliament condemning the treatment of Ahwazi Arabs and calling on the Iranian regime to drop the use of the death penalty against Ahwazi political prisoners.

The video statement can be viewed on the Al-Arabiya website.

Concerns grow over Ahwazi political prisoner

The fate of Ahwazi Arab political prisoner Jabbar Yabbari (45) is the focus of increasing concern among human rights activists with signs that his health is ailing.

The father of six was arrested by plain clothes officers on 22 March amid a widespread crackdown in which dozens were detained ahead of planned anti-government protests planned for April.

Yabbari has a heart condition and was reportedly admitted to hospital a month after his detention, according to EAHRO, although his medical treatment has been described as insufficient. There are also concerns that he is being beaten and tortured during his incarceration and he is being denied access to a lawyer to defend him. As a prominent member of the Ahwazi Arab community, he has been arrested twice before over the past 20 years.

In recent days at least four Ahwazi Arabs have been officially executed with reports of a number of other state-sanctioned killings, including the death of a prisoner during unrest at Karoon Prison where many Ahwazi Arab political prisoners are held.