Ahwazi: Liberty or Death for Imam on Hunger Strike
Sheikh Haidari was arrested after he led the Eid-ul-Adha mass prayer and peaceful demonstration on 11 January. The demonstration was fired upon by Iran's security forces, killing an unknown number of civilians. Sheikh Haidari is reportedly refusing both food and water and is certain to die soon. He is being charged with threatening national security. The protest he led was peaceful and demanded an end to ethnic cleansing, the persecution of Arabs, poverty and unemployment and called for the release of political prisoners arrested following the Ahwazi uprising of April 2005.
Meanwhile, in Ahwaz City, the government is currently cracking
down on Ahwazi Arab street vendors. Many Arab farmers made landless due to the
government's land confiscation programme have been forced into informal sector
employment in the cities, selling items by the roadside to feed their families.
Street vendors live on the margins in the shanty towns of Khuzestan, one of
the world's most oil-rich areas. The government's ban on street vending will
worsen poverty among Ahwazi Arabs and is likely to prompt further anti-government
demonstrations in the province.