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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...

Another gas pipeline struck by Ahwazi militants

Ahwazi Arab militants have claimed responsibility for a third bomb attack in recent weeks on an Iranian pipeline as part of an ongoing struggle against the regime.

The Falahiyeh brigade of the Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser has claimed responsibility for the attack on a pipeline running from Falahiyeh (Shadegan) to Mashour (Mahshahr) on the morning of 24 September. The pipeline feeds the Marun Petrochemicals complex, a leading exporter of polyethylene to countries such as China and India. The operation is in line with the group's objective of disrupting government-owned industrial facilities, which it says represent occupation and theft of resources on indigenous Arab land.

The Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser's statement also warned Arab states not to fall into the trap set by President Rouhani, who is portraying himself as "moderate" even while political dissidents are being sentenced to death and executed. It stresses that it is fighting for Ahwazis' legitimate right to self-determination and warns of surprises ahead.

Officials have claimed that the pipeline was leaking and exploded with no human casualties, although other reports have been quoted as suggesting that four people were injured due to an electrical fault.

Earlier this month, a huge explosion at a petrochemicals plant in Abadan on September 1 was claimed as a military strike by the Al-Areen Brigade for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz in co-operation with the Al-Ababil Brigade of the Free Syria Army. At the time, plant officials claimed the explosion was due to an electrical fault. The explosion came less than a month after a major gas pipeline feeding Iran's massive Marun petrochemicals complex was blown up by the Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser, the military wing of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA). Ahwazi militant groups have targeted pipelines in the past in an attempt to cripple the regime's main source of income.

Two Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to death over pipeline attack

Ali Chebeishat "confessing" on Press TV before his trial
Two Ahwazi Arabs have been sentenced to death by a notorious judge who is currently the subject of EU sanctions.

Ali Chebeishat (47), also known as Ali Kaabi, and Sayed Yasin Mousawi (35) were convicted by judge Seyed Mohammad Bagher Moussavi at Branch 2 of Ahwaz Revolutionary Court. A third activist, Salam Chayan (32), was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in the city of Yazd; he had been transferred to hospital in late July after his health deteriorated in Dezful prison, where he was being held. All three men are members of the Youth of Shush Cultural Institute. Their forced "confessions", following months of torture, have been recorded for broadcast by Iran's English language broadcaster Press TV.

Family tortured

The three men were arrested with six others last November as the Iranian regime sought revenge for an attack on a pipeline by the Brigades of the Martyr Mohiuddin Al Nasser, the military wing of the National Resistance of Ahwaz group.

Chebeishat is a well-known poet from the village of Khalaf Kaab Imsallam near Shush. His two sons Hussein (29), married with one child, and Sala Aldin (22) were among those arrested by the intelligence services. They had been attending their mother's mourning ceremony at the time. No arrest warrants were presented.

Chebeishat was subjected to barbaric physical and psychological torture, including the extraction of his fingernails and broken ribs. Some of the torture was carried out in front of his sons. In July, Chebeishat, Mousawi and Chayan staged a hunger strike in protest against their torture and ill-treatment while being held at an intelligence service detention facility in Ahwaz.

EU sanctions

The European Council imposed sanctions on judge Moussavi in March after he imposed death sentences on five Ahwazi Arabs - Mohammad Ali Amouri, Hashem Shabani, Hadi Rashedi, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka - in March 2012 for "activities against national security" and "enmity against God". The sentences were upheld by Iran's Supreme Court in January 2013.

The five were arrested without charge for over a year, tortured and sentenced without due process. Press TV editors are also subject to sanctions for broadcasting forced confessions and the channel is effectively banned in the UK and other countries.

Pipeline attacks worry regime

The pipeline was attacked near Shush (Susa) on 23 October 2012 by the Hasanein Brigade of the Brigades of the Martyr Mohiuddin Al Nasser, the military wing of the National Resistance of Ahwaz group. A communiqué by the group claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including a roadside attack on security forces on 15 April 2012 and a train transporting oil near Haftapeh station on 16 September 2012, allegedly destroying the train and the railtrack.

Attacks on pipelines are being carried out by Ahwazi Arab militant groups as they are easy to conduct and have little chance of causing fatalities. In August, the Brigades of the Martyr Mohiuddin Al Nasser claimed responsibility for an attack on a pipeline feeding the Marun petrochemical complexA huge explosion at a petrochemicals plant in Abadan on September 1 was claimed as a military strike by the Al-Areen Brigade for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz in co-operation with the Al-Ababil Brigade of the Free Syria Army.

Oil and gas pipelines are also an important economic target for the Arab opposition fighters who note that Ahwazis suffer some of the worst poverty and discrimination in the Middle East, while the wealth of their traditional lands is being squandered by an occupation regime. The regime alleges that the militants are receiving arms from Arabian Gulf states.

Appointment of "traitor" Shamkhani outrages Ahwazi Arabs

Ahwazi Arabs have reacted with dismay to the appointment of Ali Shamkhani as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council this week.

Shamkhani, himself an Ahwazi Arab, has previously served as defence minister (1997-2005) and naval commander. No other ethnic Arab has held such high position in office. In spite of an apparent election pledge by Hassan Rouhani to allocate 10 per cent of ministerial positions to ethnic Arabs, Shamkhani is the only appointment from the community. The regime imposes a ceiling on Arabs rising through political or civil service ranks using the discriminatory gozinesh law.

Known as "the admiral" in Tehran but "the traitor" in Al-Ahwaz, Ahwazi Arabs grew increasingly disillusioned with Shamkhani following the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War in which he played a leading part in defending Iran from Saddam Hussein's forces. The high ranking military strategist has failed to use his position to address the socio-economic problems and cultural marginalisation and discrimination faced by the community.

Although Ahwazi Arabs suffered more than any other community during the war, they have had little assistance and rural communities continue to be blighted by the problem of landmines. Many portray him a traitor and a lackey of the regime with dwindling credibility within the Ahwazi community.

Few believe Shakhani will use his position to enhance the status of Ahwazi Arabs, who endure levels of poverty commonly associated with sub-Saharan Africa although their traditional lands are among the world's most oil rich.

Following the Ahwazi 2005 intifada, the regime attempted to use Shamkhani to allay anger with the Ahwazi Arab community over discrimination and persecution. Members of the crowd threw eggs at him and chanted pro-Ahwazi slogans.

Land confiscation sparks conflict between Arabs and Iranian security services

At least 11 Ahwazi Arabs were arrested in clashes between locals and the security forces as they evicted and destroyed Arab farms in Sheyban, Bawi county this month, according to activist reports.

Defying local community opposition, the government ordered in bulldozers to destroy farms that had been owned by Arabs for hundreds of years. The move was brought about as an ethnic Persian woman made a claim on 35 hectares of farmland whose Arab owners, the Zeheri family, state has been in their possession for many generations.

The following members of the Zeheri family were arrested by the Security Services: Adel, Hadi, Adib, Amin Aataiee (Zeheri), Ali Hassan, Jawad, Hamid Jasem, Jaafar son of Aabiyd. 

Land confiscation is carried out by the regime for the sake of establishing sugar cane plantations, fish farms, an industrial free trade zone and more military sites for the Revolutionary Guards. Arabs subject to government land confiscation are never given the true value of their land in compensation and often receive no payment and are left destitute and landless, according to former UN housing specialist Miloon Kothari after his visit to Iran in 2005.

Cruel plight of a homeless Arab family in Abadan

“Our homelessness and displacement continue because there is no one cares about us”, a homeless Ahwazi Arab family told the New Abadan news website.

In an interview, Lida Bagheri claimed that she was arrested with her young daughter and detained for 16 hours after being evicted from their home in Abadan, which is owned by a government organisation. The family were thrown onto the street with their furniture as they could no longer afford the rent. 

The family had lived in the house for 18 months, but the government organisation that owned it filed a complaint in the court to force them out within two months. However, the impoverished Arab family had nowhere to go. Bagheri's husband is a vendor and his income is insufficient to cover basic means. Rents in Abadan are rising, while the poor are seeing their incomes plunge in real terms.

Lida Bagheri added “Displacement over the years has put much pressure on me and my family. I had asked the governor and Khamenei's representativein the city and other organisations for help, but I have received nothing. We cannot enroll our daughter in school because we haven’t a permanent residence. We expect the authorities to give us at least a tent to live in it. Our furniture is in the municipality right now, and we spend all night in the street in this overwhelming hot weather. Our homelessness and displacement continue because there is no one cares about us.”

Abadan contains one of the Middle East's biggest refineries with many downstream petrochemical plants, but most workers are brought in from other provinces.

EU foreign affairs chief condemns Ahwazis' "drastic situation" in Iran

The Iranian government received a high level rebuke from the EU this week over the treatment of Ahwazi Arab political prisoners.

In an answer to a question tabled by British Conservative MEP Dr Charles Tannock, European Commission Vice President Dame Catherine Ashton said the EU was following the "drastic situation" faced by four Ahwazi activists scheduled for execution: Ghazi Abbasi, Jassim Mughadem Panah, Abdulameer Majdami and Abdulreda Ameer Khanafra.

Ashton said that the EU "will discuss these matters with Iranian counterparts whenever possible and will remind the Iranian authorities of their international obligations under the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran has subscribed."

Death row inmates tortured by Iranian intelligence


Two Ahwazi political prisoners were this week returned to Karoon Prison in Ahwaz following weeks of torture by Iranian intelligence.

Hadi Rashedi (left) and Hashem Shabani (right) had their death sentences upheld earlier this year following convictions for "enmity with God", a charge used by the regime against those who oppose it. The men were members of a cultural association, Al-Hewar, that promoted Arabic language and literature among Ahwazi youth. A total of five members of Al-Hewar were sentenced to death.

According to reports from within the prison, Shabani spent 52 days in a secret prison run by the intelligence services. In a letter that was smuggled out of prison, Shabani protested his innocence and accused the Iranian authorities of torturing him to confess to crimes he did not commit.

Rashedi was taken from Karoon Prison and held for three weeks at an unknown location. He had pledged to begin a hunger strike if he was taken from prison, despite his ill health.

Ahwazi Arab activists claim the two men were returned to Karoon Prison in poor health with signs of torture over their bodies.

Ahwazi militants and Syrian allies claim responsibility for petchem explosion

A huge explosion at a petrochemicals plant in Abadan on September 1 was claimed as a military strike by the Al-Areen Brigade for Liberation of Al-Ahwaz in co-operation with the Al-Ababil Brigade of the Free Syria Army. 

Members of the brigade say they planted explosives, although plant officials claim it was the result of electricity problems. No casualties were reported.

The Brigade stated that it carried out the attack as a result of anti-Arab ethnic cleansing by the regime and the continued high rates of unemployment and deprivation suffered by indigenous Ahwazi Arabs.

Al-Areen Brigade's logo
The explosion came less than a month after a major gas pipeline feeding Iran's massive Marun petrochemicals complex was blown up by Ahwazi rebels belonging to the Brigades of the Martyr Mohieldain al-Naser, the military wing of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA). Ahwazi militant groups have targeted pipelines in the past in an attempt to cripple the regime's main source of income.

This is the first explosion for which the Al-Areen Brigade has claimed responsibility. It claims to have passed on intelligence on Iran's radar systems and the installation of S300 missile batteries. The group has also compiled details on Iranian ministry of intelligence officials in Al-Ahwaz and claims to have disclosed details on underground cells in Lebanon and Europe, which were published in Kuwait's Al-Seyassah newspaper.

Al-Ababil fighter with an RG-6 grenade launcher
Ahwaz News Agency has no means to verify the Brigade's statement, but notes a growing relationship between Ahwazi and Syrian rebels which could involve exchange of intelligence and arms supplies. The Al-Ababil Brigade is heavily armed and based in Daraa near Syria's border with Jordan and has been active in the Qadam district of Damascus. Among its reported armed capabilities are French-made 90mm M79 Osa anti-tank weapon, Russian-made RG-6 grenade launchers and Croatian-made AK-47s. Its weapons supplies have reportedly come from the Balkans.