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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.