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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...

Tahrir Square Ahwazi rally: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria ... will Al-Ahwaz be next?

Al-Ahwaz was the focus of revolutionary fervour in Cairo's Tahrir Square this week as activists from across the Arab world voiced their solidarity with Ahwazi Arabs opposing the Iranian regime.

Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi and Ahwazi Arab activists spoke to the media in a rally that came ahead of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi's visit to Iran.

The rally for Al-Ahwaz was supported by Egypt's Coalition for the January 25 Revolution, which helped successfully topple dictator President Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrators condemned the "repressive policies practiced by the Iranian authorities against the Arab people in Ahwaz" and called for independence for Al-Ahwaz.

A press conference held in Tahrir Square was addressed by Ahwazi Arab activist Hamad al-Ameri, who condemned the persecution of nine million people living in the Al-Ahwaz region covering 375,000 square km. He appeal to the Arab League to stop the Iranian regime's attempts to erase the Arabic identity of the region in order to exploit its rich natural resources.

Former Syrian opposition MP Mohamed Mamoun Homsi stressed the need for solidarity with Ahwazi Arabs' struggle for self-determination, which he stated was a legitimate demand under international law. Homsi warned the Iranian regime that the struggle of the Ahwazis against injustice and oppression would be the next battle following the overthrow of the Syrian regime.


British Foreign Secretary condemns death sentences, supports Ahwazi Arabs

Iran's 'utter disregard for human rights' in its execution campaign against Ahwazi Arab political prisoners was condemned by British Foreign Secretary William Hague this week.

His condemnation follows last month's death sentences passed on five Ahwazis for 'enmity with God', weeks after four other prisoners were killed.

Hague has vowed an international response to the executions, which have been accompanied by several extra-judicial killings of men arrested for minor offences such as calling for demonstrations and political graffiti.

The Foreign Secretary said: "I am deeply disturbed by the human rights abuses perpetrated by Iran in recent months.

"The torture and sentencing to death of Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Sha'bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, from the Ahwazi Arab minority, comes less than a month after the secret execution in June of four other members of this minority group. This sets a very worrying trend.

"Sadly, these are not isolated incidents and many other Iranians are currently suffering at the hands of their government. Iran's continued, widespread persecution of ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and political prisoners is a disgrace and stands as a shameful indictment of Iran's leaders.

"The Iranian government should know that its systematic attempt to curtail the freedom of its citizens will not go unchallenged by the international community and only adds to its isolation.

"I call on Iran immediately to commute these death sentences, to stop torturing its citizens and to end the systematic persecution of its ethnic minorities."

Foreign Secretary Hague has stepped up pressure on Iran over the treatment of Ahwazi Arabs following a cross-party parliamentary motion highlighting the poverty and illiteracy caused by discrimination against Ahwazis and continued violent repression by the Iranian government. The motion called on the British government to challenge Iran's refusal to implement 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.

Daniel Brett, director of the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN) which has supported Ahwazi lobbying efforts, said: "The UK's coalition government has responded favourably to Ahwazi Arab struggle for collective rights and democratic freedom, which has the potential to change Iran for good. Ahwazi Arabs in Europe will be stepping up their campaigns against executions and for collective rights over the coming months to win international support for an 'Arab Spring' in Iran."

Iran's Ramadan repression intensifies on eve of Eid

Iranian security forces have put down peaceful demonstrations and intensified their wave of arrests of Ahwazi Arabs ahead of Eid ul-Fitr, the Islamic celebration that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

On Friday August 17, Arab demonstrators protested in different parts of the Al-Ahwaz region demanding the release of political prisoners and respect for the bodies of those executed in recent months. The protests were swiftly put down and were followed by arrests.

Cafe owner Saeed Dehimi (25) from Hamidiyah was detained at an unknown location on Friday. Security forces also targeted Arab residential districts of Ahwaz City: Kut Abdullah, Kantex, Malashiya and Hey Althawra in an effort to intimidate local residents. A number of Sunni Arabs were arrested, but only the names of two are known at present: Heidar Meisi (25) and Ahmad Hazbawi (28).

Seyed Dhahi (Zahi Mosawi), aged 28 and married with one daughter, was arrested at his home in Ahmadi Street, Hey Althawra this weekend. He was accused of inciting protests and distributing anti-regime leaflets as well as calling for Eid prayers and arranging a popular Ahwazi game played during Ramadan, known as Mehebes. He is being held at an undisclosed location.

Check points were set up in Malashiya district, where at least six men were arrested on Saturday August 18th: Jamal Khasraji, Mahdi Khasraji, Naji Khalifa Al-Shemeri, Ayoob Khasraji, Hakim Khasraji and Khalil Khasraji. Shawoor district, a suburb of Susa, has also been the focus of a crackdown with an unknown number of arrests made.

The Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN) has received the names of 46 Ahwazi Arabs arrested over Ramadan, but believes many more have been detained. A 12 year old girl was also killed by security forces in Sariya, a suburb of Khafajiya (Susangerd) on July 21. The prospect of peaceful protests on and in the days after Eid ul-Fitr could push the number of arrests into triple figures, says AASN.

Meanwhile,11 political prisoners from Hamidiyeh are set to be put on trial at Branch 1 of the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court:
  • Eidan Shakhi Sayyahi (son of Abdulkazem)
  • Ali Saedi
  • Redha Obaidawi (son of Nezal)
  • Jawad Batrani
  • Jalil Naami
  • Jasem Obaidawi (son of Jomaa)
  • Hassan Abiyat
  • Hadi Abiyat (son of Abdulzahra)
  • Hassan Menabi (son of Rashed)
  • Mostafa Koti (son of Sabah)
The men have been held in custody and subjected to physical and psychological torture for over one year. They appeared on Press TV, the Iranian government's English language propaganda station. According to sources, none of the men have been appointed a legal representative and the trial will be conducted in secret in front of Judge Ebrahimi, who has links to the security services.

Five Ahwazis are currently facing execution for "enmity with God" and there are reports they are being tortured by the Ministry of Intelligence, even after being sentenced to death. Four Ahwazi political prisoners were executed in June on the same charges. Six Ahwazis have also been tortured to death in extra-judicial killings by the security services, although none were charged with any crime.

Torture of Ahwazis sentenced to death

Hashem Shaabani:
Forced to confess on Iran's Press TV channel
Five Ahwazi Arab political prisoners recently sentenced to death are in imminent danger of execution, but severe use of torture could lead to the death of one of the men before he reaches the gallows.

Arabic teacher and poet Hashem Shaabani, chemistry teacher Hadi Rashidi, writer Mohammad Ali Amoori, soldier Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Jaber Alboshoka are all being held in Karoon Prison, which is renowned for torture, ill-treatment and poor conditions.

The men were reportedly sent to a Ministry of Intelligence detention facility on August 5, even though they had already been convicted of "enmity with God" and sentenced to death by judge Sayed Mohammad Bagher Mosavi in July. They endured 10 days of torture before being returned to Karoon Prison. The reasons for their transfer to the Ministry of Intelligence are unknown.

Shaabani is critically ill and there are concerns that he will soon die if he does not receive medical attention. He is unconscious and dying having undergone severe torture at the hands of intelligence agents. The Ministry of Intelligence has refused the prison governor's request that he be sent to hospital. Before being sentenced to death, intelligence agents tortured Shaabani by pouring boiling water over him.

Activists believe intelligence officials want to place the blame on the prison for Shaabani's death. So far this year, six Ahwazi Arabs have been murdered under torture in facilities run by the Ministry of Intelligence, none of whom had been charged let alone convicted of any crime.

According to his family, Mohammad Ali Amouri - a UNHCR-registered refugee who was forcibly refouled from Iraq - has been tortured since he was put 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. The recent torture has left him with broken bones. Before his death sentence, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka had lost 10 kg in weight and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka has experienced depression and memory loss as a result of torture or other ill-treatment.

Iran's lies and hypocrisy over Interpol warrants

Press TV: Lies about Interpol Warrant
The Iranian government's claim that there is an Interpol warrant for the arrest of Habib Nabgan, leader of the Ahwazi Arab Struggle Movement, is a lie, the Ahwaz News Agency can reveal.

Through propaganda outlets such as Press TV, the regime has attempted to smear Nabgan and other Ahwazi Arab leaders by portraying them as criminals. Contrary to regime propaganda, Nabgan, currently living in political asylum in Denmark, is not on Interpol's list of wanted people. Interpol's website shows no outstanding arrest warrants on behalf of the Iranian government. Yet, Iran continues to pursue a campaign of misinformation about Nabgan and other exiled Ahwazi Arab in order to justify a campaign of executions against Arab activists in Al-Ahwaz.

Iran is more inclined towards illicit means to neutralise exiled opposition activists, such as assassination. Among the Iranians wanted by Interpol is the Iranian politician and cleric Ali Fallahijan, who the Argentine government wants in connection with the bombing of a Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires in 1994. He is also implicated in the killing of three Kurdish leaders in the Mykonos restaurant assassinations in 1992 and has been charged by a Swiss court with overseeing the operation that led to the assassination of Kazem Rajavi, the brother of Mujahidin-e Khalq leader Massoud Rajavi in 1990. He is also suspected of involvement in the 'chain murders' of dissidents in 1988-98.

There are a total of 36 Iranian citizens on Interpol's 'red list'. They may soon be joined by the Iranians involved in the Israeli embassy bombings in 2011-12, carried out in Georgia, Thailand and India. Iran is currently refusing Indian detectives access to Iranians suspected of involvement in the Delhi bombing in February 2012, allegedly carried out with the assistance of Indian journalist Ahmad Kazmi who spied on London-based Ahwazi Arab dissidents.

Daniel Brett, director of the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network, said: "Nabgan's family are victims of the Iranian government. His wife Masouma Kaabi and their son Aimad, then aged four, were held in detention for months in 2006 in an attempt to force him to return to Iran for a show trial and certain execution. Masouma was repeatedly detained in following years and suffered numerous beatings, leaving permanent injuries and no doubt was traumatised by the use of torture.

"The Iranian government has no right to take a moral highground when it comes to Ahwazi Arab dissidents. Even the fallacious crimes they are accused of are minor to the suffering the government has inflicted on Ahwazi Arabs and others living under this tyranny as well as the terrorism it has exported. Its refusal to hand over to Interpol those suspected of serious crimes outside Iran demonstrates it has no respect for international law or the authority of this international policing body."

Iran's Ramadan repression continues in Zergan

Zergan, a deprived Arab neighbourhood in Ahwaz City
Intelligence services arrested and detained 25 year old Issam Imaain al-Zergani from the Zergan district of Ahwaz City on August 11, according to the Ahwaz Struggle Movement. His home was raided and he was taken to an undisclosed location.

Zergan, located in the northeast of the city, has seen intensive operations by the Bassij, the Revolutionary Guards' volunteer paramilitary group involved in violent internal repression.

The neighbourhood has been the focus of regime operations amid a clamp-down on Arab dissent during Ramadan. On 5 August, Iranian security forces detained 11 Arabs in Zergan district in the northeast of Ahwaz City, according to the Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front, an Arab party campaigning for independence. The 5 August arrests came a week after another round up of Arabs in Zergan district, including Bagher Gholami (Naami), Abu Ehagh, Hamid Sabea (Abu Mustafa), Hakem Eawayed (Abu Safa), Sabah Sharbaz (Abu Nasser) and Mansour Askari (Abu Ali). 

The ADPF claims that increased repression has occurred in Zergan and neighbouring Zewie and Airport districts in response to a leafleting campaign against the Iranian occupation. However, it states that the arrests have been random and involved the detention of male members of entire families.

Sixth Ahwazi detainee killed under torture

Nasser Alboshokeh, 19 years old,
was killed under torture in February 2012
A sixth Ahwazi Arab was killed under torture on 7th August after being detained in a secret detention facility, according to his family.

Alireza Ghobaishawi, 37 years old from Khalafiya (Khalafabad) was not charged with any crime. The family is lodging a formal complaint against the security services and has refused to accept the return of his body for burial until they get answers from an official autopsy.

Other Ahwazi detainees killed under torture are Ghaiban Obaidawi from Hamidiyah, Mohammad Cheldawi from Ahwaz, Reza Maghamesi from Dezful, Mohammad Kaabi from Susa and Nasser Alboshokeh from Ahwaz.

Extrajudicial killings of Ahwazi Arabs are at least as frequent as official executions of political prisoners. The killings come amid a massive clamp-down on Arab activist and any sign of dissent in response to the uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. The Iranian regime is particularly anxious about the influence of a Syrian revolution on the indigenous Arab community as the Syrian opposition openly states its support for the Ahwazi cause.

Iran's anti-Arab ethnic and religious repression during Ramadan

Zergan, a deprived Arab neighbourhood in Ahwaz City
The Iranian authorities have continued their campaign of detentions in Al-Ahwaz amid a crackdown that has seen the arrest of dozens of indigenous Arabs during Ramadan.

On 5 August, Iranian security forces detained 11 Arabs in Zergan district in the northeast of Ahwaz City, according to the Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front, an Arab party campaigning for independence. The ADPF claims that increased repression has occurred in Zergan and neighbouring Zewie and Airport districts in response to a leafleting campaign against the Iranian occupation. However, it states that the arrests have been random and involved the detention of male members of entire families.

The detainees from Zergan are:
  • Brothers Said Sabea Alinewer Zargani and Hamid Sabea Alinewer Zargani
  • Brothers Abbas Owaid Abdalsadh Zargani and Hakem Owaid Abdalsadh Zargani
  • Brothers Ali Jalil Mullah Ashfak Zargani, Mohammed Jalil Mullah Ashfak Zargani and Hussain Jalil Mullah Ashfak Zargani
  • Abdel-Moneim Ali Hanita Zargani
  • Mansour Hussein Alhusejer Zargani
  • Mohammed Aboud Alabdelall Zargani
  • Tawfiq Mazraawi
The 5 August arrests came a week after another round up of Arabs in Zergan district, including Bagher Gholami (Naami), Abu Ehagh, Hamid Sabea (Abu Mustafa), Hakem Eawayed (Abu Safa), Sabah Sharbaz (Abu Nasser) and Mansour Askari (Abu Ali). Arrests have also been carried out in Eabodeh village in the suburbs of Ahwaz City where 15 were arrested on charges of conversion to Sunnism, which can lead to lengthy prison terms. Homes were also raided in Mowailhah village, Bawi county, and 13 youths were arrested. There were also arrests reported in Shaiban. 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.

Director of the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network Daniel Brett said: "State repression has been particularly harsh this Ramadan and coincides with an execution campaign against Ahwazi Arabs that has provoked civil unrest.

"Tensions are running high and the regime is using any excuse to stamp out any perceived potential challenge to its authority, regardless of how peaceful that challenge is. This includes the confiscation of satellite dishes to prevent Arabs watching Ramadan serials on television channels broadcast from Sunni Arab countries.

"Many Ahwazi Arabs see religious conversion as a political act of rejection of the theocratic government as well as growing identification with the Arab cultures of the Arabian Gulf.

"The Shia theocracy also fears the impact of vocal solidarity with the Ahwazi Arab cause by the Free Syria Army, which is challenging Iran's allied Allawite-led regime in Damascus.

"However, underlying the unrest is material deprivation. For example, discontent is rising in the village of Sariya, a focus of violent repression, where traditional agricultural activities such as water buffalo rearing are under threat due to severe drought and low water levels in the Karkhe river. This is related to the Iranian regime's controversial water diversion programme which is seeing the river's waters siphoned off upstream to feed cash crop production, such as sugar cane, which generates revenue for the political elites.

"Suburban areas of Zergan are also witnessing a growth in slum buildings and residents are increasingly restive over the rising cost of basic necessities, especially staple foods. The collapse in the output of grains in the province, traditionally Iran's second biggest wheat producer, due to government mismanagement has exacerbated matters."

25 MPs sign motion opposing persecution of Ahwazis

Twenty-five British members of parliament have signed a motion condemning the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs.

The motion highlights the poverty and illiteracy caused by discrimination against Ahwazis and continued violent repression by the Iranian government. It also challenges Iran's refusal to implement 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.

Echoing appeals made by Ahwazi political prisoners, the motion calls on the British 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.

The members of parliament backing the motion represented a cross section of political parties, including Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians as well as representatives of the Green and Welsh national parties and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The motion's primary sponsor was Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell following a meeting with members of the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network, the Ahwaz Centre for Human Rights, the Ahwaz Community Association of the UK, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society and the Canadian Ahwazi Friendship Society.