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Killing Arabs on the pretext of patriotism

By Nori Hamza, an Ahwazi Arab writer from Susa

Translated from an article on the Iran Global website

We often hear news of the execution and imprisonment of cultural, social, human rights, and political Arab activists. In many cases the families are not aware of effectiveness of reporting the news. Sometimes they are threatened into silence by the intelligence services or given false promises that their sons will be released, only to inform them later of executions.

There are many arrestees who have disappeared. For example, the Ahwazi Arab Yousef Silawi, brother-in-law of the late Mansour Silawi, the founder of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz. Yousef Silawi was abducted in 2010 from near his home in Chahar-shir, Ahwaz. Since 2010, his family have kept quiet because intelligence agents have promised to find him. It has been over two years since Yousef's abduction by unknown soldiers [of Imam Mahdi] and his family has no clue of his whereabouts.

We also know of six Ahwazi Arab political and human rights activists who have been murdered this year - Mohammad Kaabi, Alireza Ghobaishawi, Ghaiban Obidawi, Mohammad Cheldawi, Nasser Albo Shokeh and Reza Maghmesi - who were killed while being held in prisons run by the intelligence services in Shoush, Khalaffiya (Khalfabad), Ahwaz and Dezful.

In the Al-Ahwaz region, security forces consider any 'Arab' as a threat, a danger and an enemy and can be targeted on the basis of any suspicion. I will give you few evidences to prove my point.

Two weeks ago, four Ahwazi Arabs were shot dead at the Shatt al-Arab waterway by security forces. This dreadful incident has occurred when security forces became suspicious near a village close to Shatt al-Arab, where security forces opened fire and killed all four, including Abdullah Assakerh.

In another incident, two Ahwazi Arab farmers - Seyed Mousa Fazeli (41) and Seyed Ali Fazeli (34) - were shot dead by security services in Abdulkhan, 30km from Shush city, while protesting against the confiscation of their lands by the regime. They argued with the police after being stopped while visiting their land. Although they had no weapons, they were shot dead by a high-ranking police officer.

Before this incident in the same area, another Ahwazi Arab, Hassan Latifi, was stopped by police and accused of theft. Although he offered no verbal or physical resistance, he was shot dead by a police officer named Seyah Mansour.

In Kut-Abdullah, Ahwaz City, on May 26 Hussein Mayahi, son of Hamed, argued with police when he ignored their order to stop. He was shot, injured and arrested, but the police lieutenant shot him dead.

These are only recent examples of incidence that I am aware of, although there are many more similar incidents in Arab areas.

The question is: why does the regime treat political, human rights, cultural activists and even social criminals severely and barbarically? In answer, we have to note and analyse two main issues that caused these incidents: the killing of Arab activists by the regime's murderers and the proliferation of the regime's murders as more and more protest against the killings.

In regards to killing Ahwazi Arab civil activists, before and after the revolution we can note the execution of Mehyee Al Nasser, Dehrab Shomeili and Issa Nassari. We can also note the Mohammareh massacre of 1979 by Ahmad Madani, a member of Iranian National Front and [Khuzestan] provincial governor at the time with direct assistance of Mohammad Ali Jahan-ara, the chief of Mohammerah Revolutionary guards (also claimed to be a member of Mujaheddin), Mohammereh Jumeh prayer leader Seyed Abol-hassan Nuri, Abadan Jumeh prayer leader Gholamhussein Jami, Khomeini's representatives in the province Abul-ghasem Khazali and Ahamd Janati, Ahwaz Jumeh prayer leader Imam Seyed Mohammad Ali Mossavi Jazayeri, the head of the provincial justice department Seyed Ali Shafiee and Mohsen Iraqi, known as Araki, who was the Khomeinist leader in Dezful and later Khamenei’s representative at the Islamic Centre of England in London.

We can also look at the group executions of Arab activists at the beginning of revolution throughout the regime which can help us to understand the issue, but in this article I will analyse the main issue.

In regards to the question of why the regime is killing Arab activists, the main reason is the persecution of Arabs as a result of institutionalised racism in Iranian society and systematic Anti-Arabism by Iranian elites. We have to analyse the formation of modern Iran its the education system provides the justification for these murders. The silence of cultural and legal organisations and Persian news agencies that are being funded by countries such as USA, the UK and Germany is related to this ideological Anti-Arabism.

The Iranian mentality is wedded to Anti-Arabism due to the Iranian education system which explicitly depicts Arabs as enemies. As proof, you only need to visit Iranian Anti-Arab groups on social networks such as Facebook. As a result, Iranians do not show any solidarity with Ahwazi Arab activists who are murdered, but actually oppose any news coverage in regards to executions or demonstrations in Arab areas.

Some of these people criticise news publications that simply mention Ahwazi Arabs. These people attack any independent human right activists who write something in support of Ahwazi Arab political prisoners and support them. For example, Ms. Shadi Sadr [Justice for Iran] has come under attack from leftists, nationalists and pan-Iranists. It is interesting that all of them repeat the regime's line of prioritising state integrity and protecting the regime over the right to life and liberty.

Some other factors also need to be discussed which helped in formation of the Anti-Arab mindset, such as the defeat of the Sassanid empire by Arabs 14 centuries ago, the faking of many historical facts, the notion of Iranian national superiority, the legacy of Anti-Arab stories, novels, poems and speeches over the past eight decades, etc.

Another issue is the Arab people's insistence on pursuing their demands as victims in this unequal conflict.  As an Arab who is part this nation, lived my life among Arabs and, through my human rights activism, knows the political psychology of the Ahwazi Arab people, I believe that the Ahwazi mindset and their national awakening has surged in recent years. Unlike everywhere else in Iran where people are being forced into silence, in the Arab cities and villages people are heroically going into the streets and being killed for the sake of freedom from slavery.

We conclude that the Islamic Republic government and successive governments before that have confronted Ahwazi Arab people with Anti-Arabism, the force of arms and racism. This practice has continued even after the revolution. This is the reason why most people of Al-Ahwaz believe that while they have been defeated over the past nine decades, they are now prepared to fight nine more decades to gain their right of self-determination and their national demands.

In the racist camp there are two groups: one that in the name of the Islamic regime and patriotism is killing Arabs and the other the regime's opposition. The opposition is imbued with Anti-Arabism and racism. In near future the confluence of regional and international political conflicts, Iranian racism and the Arab people's pursuit of self-determination will feed the thirsty Karoon River with its own children's blood.