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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.