Ahwazi: Political Repression On the Rise
The Deputy Governor of Khuzestan, Mohsen Farokhinejad, claimed that a further 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the 26 January bombings in Ahwaz, according to the Hamsaieaha newspaper.
The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has received the names of seven more of those arrested, in addition to the 40 reported previously.
According to the Hamsaieaha newspaper, Ahmadinejad signed legislation to give more powers to security forces and militias to clamp down on protests by Ahwazi Arabs. This is in response to demands by the Basij, a quasi-military vigilante group loyal to Iran's mullahs, for sweeping powers to deal "more harshly" against "Arab separatists" in Ahwaz. Basijis have been firebombing Arab-owned businesses. Two weeks ago, a store by owned by Arab businessman Rahim Chaldawi was attacked with hand grenades and fire bombs thrown by Basijis.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government is relocating members of the non-Arab Bakhtiari and Ghashghaei tribes from outside Khuzestan onto land confiscated from Arabs. They have been provided with free land, tractors and cattle as well as cash and credit schemes not available to Arabs. The regime has a long-term goal to ethnically restructure Khuzestan to reduce the proportion of the Arab population from 70 per cent to around a third through forced out-migration of Arabs and enticement of non-Arabs from outside the province.