Jan 17, 2006

Ahwazi: Iran Authorities Arrest Hundreds and Shoot Demonstrators in Ahwaz

Clashes between Ahwazi Arabs and security forces, which began with a peaceful demonstration on Eid-al-Adha, are continuing and have spread throughout Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan)
Report by British Awazhi Friendship Society: Clashes between Ahwazi Arabs and security forces, which began with a peaceful demonstration on Eid-al-Adha, are continuing and have spread throughout Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan), including the cities of Ahwaz, Hamidieh, Mohammarah (Khorammshahr), Abadan and Sarbander.

There have been more reports of deaths and injuries in the past few days as Baseej forces have been used to violently repress Ahwazi protests. Residents report that the cell phone network and internet have been intermittently cut off. A curfew has been imposed from 10:30 pm to 7:00 am in Arab areas of Ahwaz City and surrounding town and villages. The authorities and the state oil company NIOC have banned the wearing of the khaffieh (Arab head scarf), a symbol of Arab identity that is now regarded as subversive.

At least seven of the hundreds arrested and detained are aged below 21 years, including an 11 year old. Two imams have also been detained. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received the names of at least 20 Ahwazis beind held in custody as well as three Ahwazis murdered by the security forces. According to the Mohammarah News Agency, some of those injured by the police are not going to hospital for treatment for fear of arrest.

The following names are those who are known to have been killed by security forces in the Arab-populated districts of Mallashieh, Halali, Dayereh, and Shilangabad:
Ahmad Naseri (age 22 - died on the way to the hospital from a bullet wounds in his chest)
Jaber Sawari (Ahwaz)
Sayed Chabawi (Fallahieah/Shadegan)

Around 40 have been injured, including Said Silawai and Jabar Jabari-Sewari, who both reported that hospitals refused to admit them on the instruction of the authorities. Khaled Haidari, who was shot on the face and arrested in Ahwaz on Wednesday 11 January, was reportedly transferred from Gohardasht to Erwin prison in Tehran. The authorities are said to be denying him medical care for infected injuries to his jaw and face.

The following Ahwazis are known to have been arrested in Ahwaz City and are currently detained by police:
Sayed Mastoid Helal-Musawai
Mustafa Hanoor Sawari
Majid Khalaf Haidari
Reza Haidari (11 years old)
Habib Naimeh-Sawari
Fuad Khalaf-Sakhrawi (14 years old)
Kazem Majid-Fazeli
Sayed Aref
Kazem Sayahi (14 years old)
Yossef Sharifi
Syeid Kazem Mosawi (17 year old)
Hassan Jasem Sawari (18 year old) - reportedly undergoing torture during interrogations
Saleh Obidawi (Imam of Dayereh Mosque)
Hamza Haidari
Shaykh Saleh Haidari (Mosque Imam)

The following names are those who are known to have been arrested in Hamidieh and detained by the police:
Said Menabi (20 years old)
Hadi Washahi (17 years old)
Ahmad Naisi
Ebrahim Obeyat

Hamid Badawi is among some 120 Ahwazis arrested in Falehieh (Shadegan) and transported to a prison in the central province of Yazd. Jabber Jaberi and Said Sawari were shot and injured by the police and their families report that both were refused to be admitted by the only hospital there.

The Iranian authorities have banned the wearing of khaffieh to work. The ban was imposed ahead of a soccer match in Abadan, when security forces prevented Arabs wearing khaffieh and dishdasha from watching the game. The Iranian oil company NIOC, which is the largest employer in the province, has also banned the khaffieh and there are reports that Ahwazis displaying any symbols of their Arab identity have been fired from their jobs. On Saturday, at least 20 Arab homes in the village of Ewaifi were demolished by NIOC. The families evicted from their homes are now staging a vigil outside the office of the governor of Khuzestan.

On 15 January, about 1,000 residents of Hamidieh demonstrated peacefully against the regime's heavy handed tactics and the killing of Arabs. They were attacked and beaten by the Baseej forces from Disfuli and Shushtar. In revenge, youths attacked and set alight nearby oil installations. In Arab-populated Ghosbeh, where there is a significant Sunni population, there were demonstrations against appointment of a non-Arab Shi'ite Imam. In Abadan, around 100 Arabs working for the Iranian navy were arrested and held in an undisclosed location, according to their families.

Source: British Awazhi Friendship Society