Ahwazi: Cultural Activists are Handed Prison Sentences
Photo courtesy of Ahwaz Human Rights Foundation
On 25 May 2017, after having been detained for over a month, three Ahwazi Arab activists have received 1-year prison sentences and one of the activists has also been exiled from his homeland. Issa Damani, Mojahed Zergani and Hussein Heidari are Ahwazi cultural activists whose alleged crimes consist of spreading anti-Iranian propaganda and establishing civil society organisations to serve this purpose. These activists are civil society members who promote their cultural identity through activities such as language education and charity work within Ahwazi communities. Iran’s unlawful arrests and sentencing of Ahwazis amounts to human rights violations and makes clear the ongoing institutional and systematic repression against Arabs within the country.
Below is a press release by the Ahwaz Human Rights Foundation:
According to reports received by Ahwaz Human rights organization (AHRO); judge Poormohammadi of branch 4 of Islamic Iranian revolutionary court in Ahwaz sentenced 3 Ahwazi Arab cultural activists to prison and exile.
Issa Damani, Mojahed Zergani and Hussein Heidari were arrested for “spreading propaganda against the Iranian regime” and establishing non-governmental organisations.
Each of the activists received 1 year prison sentence. In addition to this sentence, Issa Damani will be exiled to “Takab” city in western Azerbaijan.
Teaching Arabic language in a language school, creating a civil group to amend tribal laws and decrease the negative impacts of trial believes and traditions, in addition to founding a charity to help the poor were the type of activity these 3 men were involved in.
All three activists were arrested in the month of March 2017 and were held in an undisclosed detention center for a period of 1 month and a half.
On Saturday 25 of May their sentence was announced. None of the activities these three gentlemen were involved in are in any way illegal, nor is in conflict with the international law or the laws of the country.
Iranian government suppresses any activity by the Arabs of Iran, even if it related to cultural and social being of the community such as charity and has been using the false accusation of “propaganda against the regime “to silence the civil society activists.
Prosecuting this class of cultural activist who direct their effort and energy towards peaceful activities to obtain their rights, will bring disappointment to a whole society of people who believe civil activity could change the situation for Arabs in Iran and it may give place to violence if no measure should be taken to put an end to the atrocities committed by the Tehran against national minorities in Iran.
Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation condemns this screaming human rights violation against the 3 Ahwazi Arab cultural activists and calls for their immediate and unconditioned release.
We also call upon UN, HRW, Amnesty International and other national and international human rights groups to take an initiative and a stronger stand against anti-human policies of Islamic Republic of Iran.