Dec 13, 2021

Grassroots Petition Sounds Alarm Over Imminent Execution of Abbas Derris in Iran Over Alleged Role in November 2019 Protests in Al-Ahwaz

Grassroots activists are petitioning the International Community via the Daadkhast platform to intervene in the cases of Abbas Derris and Mohsen Derris in Iran, the former being at risk of being executed by the Iranian government for their alleged role in the 2019 protests in Khuzestan province (Al-Ahwaz). The UN Human Rights Commission and relevant international authorities need to immediately react to protect the two brothers and continue to pressure for their immediate release.

The 2019 protests in Khuzestan Province, Iran, also known as Al-Ahwaz or Arabistan, began due to an increase in fuel prices country-wide. During these protests, the police and security services were deployed with heavy weaponry, and opened fire on protesters, killing hundreds of them and interning without trial thousands more. With human rights observers such as Amnesty reporting on the crackdown, the fate of many of the arrested remains deeply problematic as the Iranian regime has a history of summary executions based on forced confessions.

Among those are the Derris brothers, Abbas and Mohsen. They were arrested in Mahshahr (Ma’ashur), the scene of a bloody crackdown where Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted defenseless protesters with heavy artillery fire and killed nearly a hundred of them. Abbas Derris is 48 years old, recently widowed due to his wife suffering from a stress-induced stroke. She left behind 2 children. Mohsen is 29, and also an Ahwazi Arab in Iran. The Ahwaz Arabs remain persecuted throughout the region with their language and culture often deliberately marginalized in favor of Persian. Khuzestan province is thus particularly vulnerable to repressive crackdown on activists.

The brothers were accused of shooting at special forces and Iran Revolutionary Guard, and were found guilty, with Abbas sentenced to death and Mohsen life imprisonment. Activists however maintain that the use of torture to extract confessions relating to the protest is widespread, and that the brothers have been arbitrarily detained. Previous examples of arbitrary detention and execution include the Afkari brothers, of which Navid Afkari was executed, and Mostafa Salehi, who protested in an earlier event, and was sentenced to hanging.

Judicial authorities in Iran have a record of executing potentially or obviously innocent people. This is done without informing their lawyers, without respecting due process and going through the necessary legal steps, without the transparency befitting a fair trial and without even informing the family, or the prisoner of the official ruling and status of the case. As a reaction to this injustice, a petition was set up to ensure the brothers are treated fairly and Abbas not executed.

With Abbas Derris facing the very same fate as other executed protesters, UNPO joins his voice and the voices of the community and Daadkhast petitioners asking for the release the brothers and call the international human rights authorities to pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for their actions relating to the brothers and protests in general.The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has already raised concern on the issue in the past and UNPO feels more pressure should be applied.