Oct 05, 2012

Ahwazi: An Executed Father, A Tortured Son

Religious freedom continues to be suppressed in Iran as the number of executions, torture and extrajudicial killings perpetually increases. While EU states have criticized the prosecution of the executed dissident’s teenage son, it remains unclear what the outcome of this particular trial will be.

Below is an article published by Ahwaz News Agency:

The teenage son of an executed Ahwazi dissident is facing torture in prison for converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism.

Tareq Salami (16), the son of Ghasem Salami who was hanged in 2007, is facing charges of acting against national security for becoming a Sunni Muslim. Conversion to Sunni Islam is increasingly common among Ahwazi Arabs who are disenchanted by a Shia theocratic regime that persecutes them.

The teenage boy is currently under interrogation by the intelligence services at the notorious Karoon prison, where many Ahwazi Arab political prisoners are held and where his late father was executed. Arrested at his home on 28 July 2012, he is being denied legal representation because he cannot afford a lawyer.

Human rights activists are concerned that Tareq's life is in danger due to his relationship to Ghasem. It is common for the Iranian regime to persecute entire families and there have been instances of pregnant women and young babies being held in custody to extract false confessions.

Ghasem Salami's trial, after televised "confessions" to crimes he did not commit, was mired in international controversy. Salami's defence lawyer was threatened with charges of acting against national security in order to prevent fair representation. A communiqué by the European Council, supported by the EU as well as non-EU states Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine and Moldova, called for a stay of execution and criticised the prosecution. Meanwhile, a motion in the British parliament, signed by 49 MPs, condemned the execution of Ghasem Salami and nine other Ahwazi prisoners and highlighted the regime's refusal to grant them contact with defence lawyers and hold fair and open trials.

The trials and death sentences were also condemned by three UN Special Rapporteurs: Philip Alston (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), Leandro Despouy (Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers) and Manfred Nowak (Special Rapporteur on torture).

Despite international pressure, he was killed by the government aged 41, leaving six children including Tareq.