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...

Unemployment among Ahwazi Arabs soars

Poverty has led to widespread scavenging by Ahwazi Arab children
Increasing joblessness and rising poverty is creating a humanitarian crisis among Ahwazi Arabs that threatens to lead to widespread unrest, according to activists and a growing number of politicians.

The unemployment crisis prompted one desperate Ahwazi Arab to set himself alight in the provincial governor's office last week, emulating Tunisian martyr Mohammad Bouazizi.

The official unemployment rate in "Khuzestan" province is 12 per cent, the second highest rate in the country. However, Sayed Sharif Hussaini, a member of parliament in the province, claims the rate is more than 25 per cent and has challenged the accuracy of official statistics. Youth unemployment is soaring with 30 per cent of 15-29 year olds without jobs, although the province's natural resources are a major source of wealth for the country.

Political failure to keep promises highlighted by MPs

Hussaini criticised the failure of government ministers to keep promises to resolve problems and for the discriminatory practices by managers towards local people. He highlighted two major problems: the preference for bringing non-local people from outside the province and the attitude of non-local management towards local people. An example of discriminatory practices was the tendency of oil and steel companies to use contractors from Tehran, using non-local labour, whenever there are big contracts on offer.

Meanwhile, Khalil Hayati Moghadam, a member of parliament for Mahshahr, told parliament that "according to official statistics, the rate of unemployment in Omidyeh and Maashour was 23 per cent despite having the biggest petrochemical plants in the country. He described the situation as a "crisis" and condemned management for sacking local staff from their jobs and filling the vacancies with people brought in from outside the province.

The crisis was also highlighted by provincial governor Sayed Jaafar Hejazi, who claimed that in spite of more than 700 billion tomans of investment the Ahwaz Oxyn Folad steel company had provided only 700 job opportunities to local people. Increasing poverty among Ahwazi Arabs is becoming a major political issue in the presidential election with candidates promising a range of measures to appeal to the Arab vote. There are, however, widespread doubts among Ahwazi Arabs.

Ahmadinejad's visit sparks protests and disbelief

In a visit to Ahwaz during the weekend, President Ahmadinejad pledged to redistribute 2 per cent of oil revenues back to the region in the form of funding for social development. However, over the past eight years his administration has consistently opposed legislation proposed by the region's members of parliament to redistribute 1.5 per cent of oil revenues back to the oil-producing, Arab-majority region.

Workers from local sugar refineries in Ahwaz City demonstrated against the president's visit to the region in protest against months of unpaid wages. The plants have been transferred to the ownership of banks due to insolvency and are refusing to release money for salaries. Meanwhile, in Abadan workers and pensioners in the oil industry staged protests against a government decision to give housing units that had been promised to them to the Revolutionary Guards and security forces.

Ahwazi sets himself alight in governor's office in jobs protest

The Arab Spring  revolts started after
Mohammad Bouazizi's self-immolation
An Ahwazi Arab man set himself alight inside the offices of the provincial Governor in Ahwaz on April 16 in a protest against unemployment, according to a report by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation.

Following the example of the Tunisian martyr Mohammad Bouzizi, Madhi Hadi Mojadam (32) waited for the Governor to leave his office and dowsed himself in petrol before setting himself alight. Security guards intervened immediately to put out the fire and take him to the nearby Taleghani hospital.

Mojadam lives in Char-sad-dastgah in Sepidar, one of the most deprived areas of Ahwaz City. He is currently in intensive care suffering severe burns. His family has been threatened by the authorities not to disclose the news and his hospital room is under the control of the security services. The authorities fear that news coverage of his self-immolation could prompt civil unrest ahead of the presidential elections.

Self-immolation is a non-violent method of resistance that has been increasingly used by Tibetans resisting Chinese occupation; over 100 Tibetans have set themselves alight and 40 have died as a result since 2009. Mojadam is the fifteenth reported self-immolation in connection with the Arab Spring uprisings.

Over 30 NGOs sign Ahwazi solidarity declaration on Intifada anniversary

Hundreds of Ahwazi Arabs and their supporters demonstrated outside the European Commission offices in Brussels today to mark the eighth anniversary of the Ahwazi intifada.

More than 30 non-governmental organisations signed a declaration to condemn the ongoing persecution of Ahwazi Arabs:

"We the undersigned condemn the planned executions of Ahwazi Arab activists, we condemn past killings and future killings of those whose only crime was to raise a voice of freedom against ethnic persecution.

"We condemn the successive regimes in Tehran that have taken land from indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, taken lives, taken opportunities to learn in their native tongue, destroyed and polluted the beauty of the once fertile and verdant environment, stolen the once mighty waters of the Karoon and Karkeh and robbed the freedom of the Ahwazi Arabs to determine their own destinies.

"We state that the killings and ethnic cleansing are the result of nearly ninety years of violent persecution and the only remedy is the self-determination of the Ahwazi Arab nation.

"We demand that Ahwazi Arabs be allowed to form their own cultural associations and political parties on their own land so that they may debate their collective destiny without fear, intimidation or violence.

"We affirm this right under international law and in the name of the Ahwazi Arab martyrs who have died for freedom from tyranny. The creation of more martyrs by the tyrants of Tehran will only strengthen our resolve to shake off the shackles of dictatorship and fight the ongoing ethnocide of our people.

"We call on the international community to act in solidarity with the cause of the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs."

Ahwazi organisations, in alphabetical order:Ahwaz Education and Human Rights FoundationAhwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO)
Ahwaz Liberation Organisation - Miaad (ALO)Ahwaz Studies Center (ASC)
Ahwazi-Arabs for Democracy and Justice in IranAhwazi Arab Solidarity NetworkAhwazi Canadian Centre For Human Rights
Ahwazi Centre For Human Rights (UK)Ahwazi Cultural Centre
Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front (ADPF)
Ahwazi Islamic Sunni Organisation (AISO)
Ahwazi Justice Movement
Ahwazi Youth Community
Ahwazian Human Rights Council
Arab Front for the Liberation of Ahwaz (AFLA)
Arabistan Studies Centre 
British Ahwazi Friendship SocietyCentre for Combating Racism and Discrimination against Arabs in Iran (CCRDAI)
Danish-Ahwazi Friendship Society

Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (DSPA)
European Ahwazi Human Rights OrganisationPatriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz (PADMAZ)
Youth Union of Ahwaz

Other organisations:
American Baluch CouncilBahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS)
Baloch People's PartyBalochistan Human Rights Organisation - London
Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran, International Committee
Ethnic Human Rights Defenders in Iran
Gulf-European Center for Human Rights (GECHR)
Human Rights Association in National Unity Assembly (Bahrain)
Party of Lur and Bakhtiari PeoplePeter Tatchell Foundation (UK)
South Azerbaijan Human Rights Centre (SAHRC)
South Azerbaijan Independence PartyTogether For Human Rights and Democracy Association (Bahrain)
Universal Message Of Human Rights’ Organisation
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)

Ahwaz Human Rights Report details latest atrocities against Ahwazi Arabs

Produced by the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network in conjunction with Ahwazi Arab rights activists and NGOs, the Ahwaz Human Rights Review 2013 provides an overview of the events and issues concerning the Ahwazi Arabs over the past year, a year that has seen an increase in violent repression, summary killings and executions.

The authorities are attempting to silence the voices of moderate, educated Ahwazi Arab cultural activists, particularly teachers who have sought to advance indigenous Arab culture and language among Ahwazi children. Meanwhile, the socio-economic and political conditions that are the context of the unrest have merely intensified, a situation that the region’s politicians are increasingly concerned about.

The ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings across the Middle East coupled with the anniversary of the April 2005 Ahwazi uprising led to a series of demonstrations in Ahwaz in 2011 and 2012. The 2005 Ahwazi peaceful intifada led to the killing of at least 160 protestors, hundreds of arrests and a number of executions following secretive, flawed trials in Revolutionary Courts.

The protests of 2011 and 2012, attracting thousands of peaceful Arab demonstrators, spread to a number of Arab populated cities and towns, although a heavy security presence meant that the protests were isolated and media coverage was suppressed. In the run-up to the presidential election and in its aftermath, the security and intelligence services have ramped up their campaign of arrests, with hundreds held in detention in the first few months of 2013 in anticipation of Arab unrest.

The main themes of Ahwazi Arab demonstrations are lack of socioeconomic development caused by discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, housing and civil and political rights. The Iranian regime’s response to the country’s indigenous Arab unrest was as swift and brutal as that of other regimes facing unrest in the Middle East. Security forces frequently use live ammunition and teargas on peaceful demonstrators and stand watch at hospitals to apprehend any injured protestors.

Executions of arrested Arab protesters and anyone accused of inciting protest are routinely carried out. Ahwazi Arab political prisoners are highly vulnerable to torture and rape by interrogators and extra-judicial killings. Ahwaz City hosts some of the most notorious prisons in Iran, a country renowned for torture and extra-judicial killings. Secret security centres are used to extract false confessions. Most ethnic Arab political prisoners are imprisoned for demanding their cultural, linguistic, civil and human rights and are tried in secret revolutionary courts without access to defence lawyers. Often they are sentenced to death by hanging.

Ahwaz clamp-down a prelude to state terror during elections

Ahwazi Arab activists are warning that the pre-emptive arrests of hundreds of Arabs ahead of the anniversary of the April 2005 Ahwaz intifada will be repeated on a national scale ahead of the presidential elections.

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation has named over 250 Ahwazi Arabs have been rounded up and held without charge in an effort to intimidate and silence protests. The actual number is likely to be far higher.

Small sporadic and peaceful protests have occurred in Arab neighbourhoods in Ahwaz, including the use of motorbikes to disrupt highways and calls of "Allahu Akbar" from rooftops at night. However, the level of state terror under effective martial law has deterred many from taking action that could lead to confrontation with the security forces.

The state's ability to prevent unrest with mass arrests of Arabs signals that the regime may take wider action across Iran to intimidate any form of dissent from the hard-line stance of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) Nasser Bani Assad said: "Political activists elsewhere in Iran have taken a blind eye to the recent events in Ahwaz, but the tactics used against Ahwazi Arabs will be used to prevent any criticism of the regime and the conduct of the election. We believe that if hundreds are arrested in Al-Ahwaz, hundreds more will be arrested in other centres before political activists even get the chance to debate, question and complain. This year is likely to see an unprecedented level of state terrorism to prevent the civil unrest that followed the 2009 presidential election."

Congress of Nationalities Supports Syrian Uprising, Condemns Nuclear Programme

By Ramadan Al-Saedi, Al-Arabiya

The Eighth Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran concluded on Sunday after two days of continuous debate. The representatives of several non-Persian nations participated in the conference in London, UK.  The Participants discussed the activities of several committees including Financial, International and Executive committees. Each Committee chair presented a summary of last year’s achievements.

The Conference discussed several Iranian issues including the inhumane practices by the Iranian government against non-Persian nations such as executions and prosecutions. The participants have also expressed their support for the Syrian uprising against the Iranian-supported Assad regime. Iranian interference in the region was condemned. The conference also voiced its opposition to the Iranian nuclear programme and called for its discontinuation due to its threat to security and peace in the region.

Additionally, the conference participants emphasised the importance of boycotting the Iranian Presidential election describing it unfair and illegitimate, where several non-Persian nations are denied their voice. The participants also expressed their continuous support to all Arabic uprisings in recent years.

Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran founded in London in 2005 during a meeting among seven political parties that represent different non-Persian nations in Iran. Now there are 16 political parties participating in this conference including the Iranian Democratic Kurdish Party, the Ahwazi Solidarity Party and the Komaleh Kurdish Party. There were other non-Persian political organizations represented included Turks, Azeri and Baluch.

Divisions emerge over ethnic vote in the Iranian presidential election

A third potential presidential candidate has sought to appeal directly to the Ahwazi Arab vote in an acknowledgement that ethnicity is emerging as a major political force in the presidential election.

Veteran conservative and a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who is of ethnic Lori descent, said he felt "ashamed" of the poor human development in Mohammareh/Khorramshahr.

Referring to the lack of progress following the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, he said: "Years after freeing the city, I feel ashamed of the failure... Khuzestan suffers from basic problems relation to water, the environment, employment and industry."

In a side-swipe against institutional racism, he said "considering ethnic groups as a threat is an unforgivable sin... When management and decision-making is centralised, there is a lack of appreciation of local capacities" and as a result it is a threat to national prosperity and security.

However, the Supreme Leader's representative in Ahwaz City, Friday imam Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Mosavi Jazayeri, has hit out against attempts to mobilise ethnic support as treasonous, claiming that "ethno-nationalism in the elections is a betrayal to the city, the government and the revolution. People have to change their attitudes towards election campaigning."

In recent days, two other conservative presidential hopefuls - Mohsen Rezaee and Hassan Rouhani - have sought to articulate growing Ahwazi Arab anger at racial discrimination and poverty in order to win votes from the community. However, Ahwazi political parties refuse to endorse any candidate and called for a boycott. They have warned against the dangers of electoral opportunism that may boost the turnout and legitimise the regime, but ultimately achieve no material progress for indigenous Arabs.

Rouhani competes with Rezaee for Ahwazi Arab vote

Ahwazi Arab tribal sheikhs were invited to an audience with declared bidder for the presidency Hassan Rouhani in Tehran this week, days after rival conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaee addressed Arabs in a bid for their support.

Arab representatives put their demands to Rouhani, including 10 per cent of seats in the cabinet reserved for Arabs. They applauded Rouhani when he appeared to agree and criticised the Ahmadinejad administration for its policies. A key part of Rouhani's platform is a promise to introduce a civil rights charter for the country. One Arab leader told Rouhani: "I can tell you confidently that you are ahead of even Khatami with your speech today. I was a supporter of Khatami 100%, but now I am 1000% a supporter of Hassan Rouhani!"

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Presidential elections have frequently seen candidates of all regime factions appeal to ethnic votes, indicating the strength of importance of ethnic political identity in Iran.

"Both reformist and conservative candidates have played on Ahwazi Arab concerns and agreed to fulfill their demands. But when in power, they always betray their promises and sustain the campaign of ethnic cleansing, further fuelling the cycle of ethnic unrest and violent repression.

"Until Ahwazi Arabs are allowed to form their own parties and compete in free and fair elections, this cycle will continue and Al-Ahwaz will become a crucible for anti-regime civil unrest. As Al-Ahwaz contains the main source of the regime's oil wealth that sustains its machinery of terror, the Ahwazi Arabs hold the key to regime change in Iran."

Teenage Ahwazi killed in anti-regime protest

A 15-year-old Ahwazi Arab boy, Morteza Alsoweidi, was shot down during a demonstration against the actions of security services on 12 April.

Alsoweidi was killed by Colonel Chabok Sawar as he joined local people in protesting against the destruction of Arab houses in the area where he lived with his family. He lived in the village of Al-Chenebah in the Sayed Mousa area.

Extrajudicial killings of Ahwazi Arabs are at least as frequent as official executions of political prisoners. The bodies of many Ahwazi activists who have "disappeared" have been washed up in the Karoon.

In March 2013, the body of a 14 year old Ahwazi Arab resident of Hay al-Thawra (Dayereh) was found in the Karoon River. Pictures of Maitham Hamid Abidawi's corpse showed that his hands were bound behind his back and his feet were tied together. A rescue team was deployed and allegedly found other bodies in the river. In April 2013, political activist Sayed Lafteh Mosavi of Sayed Karim, an area near Ahwaz City, was killed under torture while detained by the intelligence services. He had been arrested some months before and held without charge.

On July 21, 12-year-old Lilla Ghasan Hamid Obaidawi was killed and four members of her family were injured after security forces opened fire with live ammunition during raids on their village of Sariya in Khafajiya (Susangerd) on July 21. The reasons for the raid were unclear, but there were suggestions that it was conducted amid a clamp-down on the ownership of satellite dishes that can receive Arabic satellite channels. Sariya is also prone to drought due to falling water levels in the Kharkhe river, which has damaged local farming and provoked increasing hostility towards the government’s indifference.

Eight others were killed while in detention in 2012, including 47 year old Jamil Sowaidi (killed under interrogation while detained without charge) in November, Abbas Sawari (arrested from his home in Hay al-Thawra in April and found dead in the Karoon river in September), 37 year old Alireza Ghobaishawi (arrested in Khalafiya/Khalafabad and killed in detention in August), 19 year old Nasser Alboshokeh (arrested in Ahwaz on 21 January and died in hospital following extensive torture on 30 January), 21 year old Mohammad Kaabi (arrested on 21 January and died under torture on 2 February), Ghaiban Obaidawi from Hamidiyah, Mohammad Cheldawi from Ahwaz, Reza Maghamesi from Dezful and Mohammad Kaabi from Susa.[1]

[1] تعداد فعالان سياسی عرب که زير شکنجه کشته شدند به ۶ تن رسيد”, Gooya,  (

Regime hardliner attempts to co-opt Ahwazi Arabs

Former chief of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezaee is perverting the narrative of Ahwazi Arab rights in a bid to win votes in his bid for the Iranian presidency, claim Ahwazi activists.

The hardliner who currently serves as Secretary of the powerful Expediency Discernment Council, told a meeting in Fallehiyeh (Shadegan): "I will no longer refer to Arabic speakers. We should say 'Arab brothers'. Calling them Arabic speakers is insulting to Arab people and must be considered a crime."

Rezaee was confronting the tendency in Iran of playing down the ethnicity of Ahwazi Arabs by referring to them as "Arab-zaban" (Arabic speakers), although he has offered no political remedies for their grievances. He also raised the issue of conservation of the wetlands, which are being destroyed due to a controversial dam and river diversion programme.

Rezaee is an ethnic Bakhtiari born in Masjed Soleyman and is therefore presenting himself as a 'local' candidate in the region. However, he was instrumental in carrying out the Black Wednesday massacre in Mohammareh (Khorramshahr). He is also accused by the Argentine government for his involvement in terrorist attacks in Argentina. In the 2009 presidential elections, he was the candidate of the right-wing Hizb-i Ettedal va Toseh and received just 1.7 per cent of the vote with little support among Ahwazi Arabs.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "His remarks remind me of the Majlis candidate Sheish Jawad Moramazi, a well-known member of the Ettalaat, when he promised that Arab identity will be given a privilege in the Al-Ahwaz region. In reality, nothing changes when these politicians get into power even when naive people vote for them. Rezaee has had the opportunity and power to address the political, economic and cultural marginalisation of Ahwazi Arabs, but he has done nothing.

"They make slogans to boost election turnout and act as a safety valve for social tensions so that Ahwazi Arabs remain servile.

"The good thing is that Iranian politicians finally recognise that the Ahwazi Arab movement has momentum and the narrative of Arab rights is established within local political discourse."

"Patriarchy and feminism" by death row prisoner Mohammad Ali Amoori

The following article was written by death row Ahwazi Arab prisoner Mohammad Ali Amouri and published in 2000 by the Al-Torath student newspaper, which he edited. He is one of five Ahwazi Arab cultural activists facing imminent execution. The Iranian regime has claimed that he and the Al-Hewar cultural organisation he was involved in are extremist Wahabis involved in a foreign plot to cause unrest and support violence. He has consistently denied the charges against him, in spite of torture and solitary confinement. This article proves that far from being an extremist, Amouri is a peaceful, moderate social reformer.

The issue of human rights in Islamic thought is raised in its different dimensions such as political, sexual and civil rights. In modern Iranian society, the slogan of human rights has become popular, attracting Iranian elites and students. However, in some of these debates, some human rights values have been less considered.  An example is “women rights”, which is not challenged and is considered to be “prohibited thought” because this issue is mixed with some religious and morals taboos.

There are different understandings and interpretations in this regard and these change according to time and place. Any society builds laws and social organisation on existing political, economic and family systems.

If we look at the history we can see that social trends changed as society changed from hunting and farming to a modern and industrial society and these trends changed the relationship between men and women within the family.

Islamic theologians and scientists had different thoughts on the relationship between men and women. Jalaladdin Davani, the 15th century Iranian philosopher and theologian, and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, an architect and astronomer, believed that the family is a “natural state” and the division of labour within and outside of home is part of this natural state. As such, all rights given or taken from men and women are following the natural state or rules. Motahhari believed that family system had constant rules and principles. The question raised here is whether this system can be applied to different societies according to their needs.

In contrast, modern thought states that human relations vary in all aspects of political, economical and family/social life.

In all societies, the economic system is the most important aspect of family relations. For instance, in tribal states the financial independence of woman and children is sidelined and they are all dependent on man/father, which creates patriarchy. This relationship is eliminated within modern societies. In modern societies each individual has his or her own financial independence and they develop skills, leading to the loss of the patriarchy role of the father/man in the family. All individuals seek education, skills and financial independence which result in more freedom and lessens the dominant role of the father/man in the family.

In the pre-Islamic era, there was a tribal system and people used to migrate from one place to another. When Prophet Mohammad brought Islam, he introduced justice and eliminated unfair principles that used to be practiced on women in that time. Islam also restricted polygamy and gave more value to women in the context of that period of time. Inequalities which had been practiced against women must be eradicated - this was the message of the Prophet.

In Egypt, the sociologist Ghasem Amin, who wrote “Freedom of Women” in 1899 and “New Woman” in 1900, created a flaring spark of feminism and an explosion within religious conservatism. He suggested education (but not as same level of men), freedom and equality (except polygamy) and the right of work for women for in order to secure greater freedom. After Ghasem Amin, who was described as “father of women's rights”, others such as Houda Shaarawi, Fatema Al-Marnisi and Nawal Al-Saadawi researched and advocated equality between men and women.

These feminists believed that patriarchy, which suppresses woman’s rights, is not Islamic. They believed that traditional interpretations are the result of traditional ideologies. There have been different interpretations within Shiaa, Mu'tazila and Ashari which have developed their own principles within Islam. It is therefore our right to criticise these interpretations and consider new suggestions and interpretations which assert the equality of man and woman.

For instance, the Quran states that a male witness is worth the same as two female witnesses, which was required to avoid any mistake or uncertainty. But are only women capable of making a mistake? Psychological studies show that men are as capable of making a mistake or forgetfulness as women. But the Quran states the nature and personality of women in the context of the time of the Prophet Mohammad.

Secondly, women receive half the inheritance of a woman. This was established in Arab tribes to avoid conflict between tribes in the event that a deceased man's wealth, such as his farmland, would pass to a different tribe. The logic was to prevent conflict within the tribal system.

Considering the above examples, we conclude that the basis of relationships and principles can be established according to the society’s needs.

Arrests of Ahwazi Arabs mount amid clamp-down

The number of arrests of Ahwazi Arabs continues to climb amid a crackdown on dissent ahead of the eighth anniversary of the 2005 Ahwazi intifada.

Teacher Mohammad Amara Moramazi was arrested on 27 March in Al-Houwayzeh (Hoveizeh), according to local sources. This week, Ali Gharbawi and Ali Moramazi were arrested in Khafajiyeh (Susangerd) and their whereabouts is unknown.

Meanwhile, the Ghenaidrah (Dezful) revolutionary court has convicted three Ahwazi Arabs from Shawor near Susa (Shush). The poet Ahmad Ali Kaabi (27), who was arrested on 8 September 2012, has been sentenced to prison in Masjid Soleiman. Abdullah Abbas Srayeh Kaabi (31), who was arrested on 19 August 2012, was sentenced to three years imprisonment. His brother Hassan Abbas Srayeh Kaabi (23) was also given a prison sentence.

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) reported earlier this week that scores of Ahwazi Arabs had been arrested in the crackdown. In an appeal, it lists the names of 161 Arabs who have been arrested for political crimes. Since the publication of its report, five more have been arrested.

AHRO said: "These random arrests threaten the freedom of civilians in Ahwaz province and breach international law and human rights. AHRO condemns these arbitrary arrests among Ahwazi Arabs and appeals to the international community and human rights organisations for their urgent attention tosupport Ahwazi Arab detainees and stop further physical and mental torture. We also appeal for further pressure on the Iranian government to respect the rights of all detainees as set down in International Law and to reveal where they are detained so their families can visit them. We appeal for the prisoners to be freed without any conditions."

Nabavi back in prison after interrogation over Ahwazi solidarity

Mohammad Ali Amoori (left) and Sayed Zia Nabavi
Prominent Iranian student movement leader Sayed Zia Nabavi was return to Karoon prison this week following a month-long interrogation by Iranian intelligence.

Nabavi has been in prison since June 2009. While in Karoon Prison, he met and befriended Ahwazi Arab activist Mohammad Ali Amouri, who is currently facing execution for "enmity with God". Both Nabavi and Amoori have been held in solitary confinement and tortured. Their experiences have brought them together.

In a recent appeal, entitled "story of an exiled prisoner about a prisoner who is sentenced to death, Nabavi described Amoori as a moderate person and rejected the regime's allegations against him and other Ahwazis sentenced to death. He stated that he did not believe they were violent and accused the security services and judiciary of linking them to a non-existent armed separatist group.

Nabavi has been under pressure from the intelligence services to publicly disavow his letter of support for Amoori, but he has refused to co-operate. This is believed to have been the reason for his recent interrogation and there are fears that he has been subjected to psychological and physical torture.

Amoori also wrote a letter of appeal which stated: "I was seeking peace and dialogue, what sin have I done to be killed? To save innocent people who demand humanitarian help, peace, freedom and basic political and social rights?"

He added: "I was subjected to physical and psychological torture in solitary confinement in Ahwaz City for six months and then in Karoon prison where after two years I was sentenced to death by an unjust court. I have been asking since then: why do they want to kill me?"

Dozens of refugees go on hunger strike in Brussels

More than 40 Iranian asylum seekers began a hunger strike against their deportation at a deportation camp in Brussels airport on 1 April.

Among the refugees are Ahwazi Arab law graduate Hussein Sanjari (26) and his sister Fatima Sanjari, who have been kept in the camp for more than six months, according to the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz.

The asylum seekers insist they will face persecution if they were extradited to Iran. Ahwazi Arab political dissidents, including repatriated refugees, have been imprisoned, tortured and killed in Iran. They include the UNHCR registered refugee Muhammad Ali Amouri, who is currently facing execution two years after he was refouled from Iraq.

Iran adds five years on peaceful Ahwazi activist's prison term

An Ahwazi Arab engineer and leading human rights and cultural activist has had his jail term extended by five years to 15 years following allegations that he was involved in leaking a video appeal from Karoun Prison that embarrassed the Iranian regime.

Ghazi Heidari will now spend his jail sentence in Shiraz and is not set for release until 2024. However, friends and relatives fear he will not survive the full term due to the severe ill-treatment and torture he has received, as reported by the Ahwaz News Agency (ANA) in September.

Ghazi was accused of involvement in smuggling a secret appeal by four Ahwazi Arabs before their execution last year. Jawad Heidari, Ghazi's cousin, told ANA that Ghazi was subjected to severe torture by the intelligence service when the video of the executed Arabs leaked. Four of his ribs were fractured, his nails were pulled out and he lost hearing in one ear due to an injury to his head. He is now in a very poor physical condition and is suffering malnutrition as well as severe muscular and joint pain. His relatives said that he needs urgent treatment but the prison authority refuses to allow him to leave prison for appropriate medical attention.

The film he is alleged to have filmed and help smuggle 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.

He was already sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Morteza Turk in Branch 1 of the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court in November 2009; the sentence was approved on appeal by Judge Gholamhussein Zatehajam in February 2010. He was convicted for his involvement in peaceful political and cultural activities.

Ahwazi intellectual activist Yousef Azizi Benitorof said: "The engineer Ghazi Heidari was sentenced for 15 years imprisonment because of his support for peaceful political and cultural activities. The intelligence service prefers Ahwazi Arab youths to turn to violence in order to easily crawl among them and execute them on allegations of separatism. Don’t forget Ghazi Heidari, he is a son of the Ahwazi Arab nation in Iran.”

Activists state that Ghazi was never seeking self-glory and was only interested in researching Ahwazi history and raising awareness about Arab identity. They fear that he is being victimised and are preparing to kill him over a video that was merely an appeal to the UN to help save innocent lives.

One activist told ANA: "The intelligence service picked the most peaceful and informative man in the community to slowly murder him and prevent him from fighting injustice from his own cell. We have to help this hero. His activities on ground were equal to all Ahwazi activities across the globe. He is an idol to many who believe in non-violent resistance. Ahwazi people will never seen such brave, dedicated and superior thinker who is prepared to resist and sacrifice himself for freedom. He is the icon for unity because he never underestimated the Ahwazi ability for freedom. He is a noble of hope, believes in his own people and history and is ahead of his generation. He had a plan for any single minute of his life and used these minutes to promote Ahwazi plight. He doesn't understand what depression means, he is proactive and positive."

An initial court hearing had found him not guilty, but the court decided to exercise its authority to sentence him for his alleged contact with activists abroad, which is considered by the regime as being in contact with enemy states. He was accused of having in his possession the Ahwazi Arab literature and tens of electronic books which are considered to be anti-regime, having contact with human rights activists, providing legal document evidence for the United Nations which was considered to be anti-Iranian; sending photos and testaments of executed Ahwazi Arabs to foreign non-governmental organisations, and; preparing and distributing statistics about arrested Ahwazi Arabs.

Ghazi's relatives and supporters are angered that the news of the extension of his prison term was published by the Jonbesheh Rahe Sabs (Green Way Movement), who provided a brief and indifferent report, before his family were even informed. Ahwazi activists have expressed their fury with the insensitivity of the regime's Green movement faction, which has worked to oppose the Ahwazi movement.

Arrest of 244 Ahwazi Arabs in recent weeks, says NGO

At least 244 alleged Ahwazi Arab political activists have been incarcerated by the Iranian authorities in recent weeks in a mass clamp-down intended to prevent protests in April.

In its latest quarterly report, the Al-Ahwazi Human Rights Organization reports that "the majority of the arrests include cultural, political and religious activists whom are currently being held at the private cells or general prisons. The detainees have never received any official subpoena or warrant prior to the arrest and the reasons of their arrests remain unknown to the detainees and their families."

April will mark the 88th year since Reza Pahlavi ended autonomous Arab rule in the region by deposing Sheikh Khazaal, the Sheikh of Mohammareh and leader of the powerful Bani Kaab tribe. In 2005, the 80th anniversary saw massive unrest among Ahwazi Arabs with the Iranian regime temporarily losing control over parts of the oil-rich region. Over 130 Arabs were killed in the violent repression of the protests and many more were imprisoned. Since then the Iranian government has put Arab neighbourhoods under martial law, although protests are frequent.