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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.