Ahwazi: Ahwaz Human Rights Organization Condemns Iranian Unfair Trials
On Sunday, 19 March 2006, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a closed Religious court without the presence of lawyers, sentenced two Ahwazi Arab brothers –Hani Bawi and Muslim Bawi, both students at Chamran University in Ahwaz – each to 11 years imprisonment with a subsequent 10 year exile to northern Iranian province of Azerbaijan and Arak, respectively.
The third brother, Zamal Bawi, also a university student, was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution. Other co-defendants, Lefteh Sorkhi, Mansour Taiori and Hassan Bozar (all students at Chamran University in Ahwaz), were each sentenced to 11 years jail terms with subsequent exile to Northern provinces of Iran.
Although all the defendants were arrested in connection with last October bombings in Ahwaz and other cities in Khuzestan province, no evidence was presented by the prosecutors except claims including: advocating a boycott of the last presidential elections, writing and managing university newspapers and advocating human rights of Arab minority and hence "endangering the security of the state", among others, according to family members. Other charges included distributing CDs containing human rights reports published by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO), the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It is evident that human rights activism and free speech are regarded with suspicion by the Iranian regime, with those who challenge the state by non-violent means - including the distribution of human rights reports are seen to be as subversive as those who choose violence.
Along with the defendants' family, international human rights organizations such Amnesty International and others have condemned the treatment of the Bawi brothers:
All these students have repeatedly renounced violence and stated their belief in non-violent struggle. All other Ahwazi Arab detainees are only engaged in peaceful criticism of the government and have campaigned against poverty, discrimination and high rates of unemployment among Arabs and for the rights of the Arab minority to study in their own languages, their Constitutional right to equality, a fair redistribution of oil revenue and an end to the regime's systematic ethnic cleansing, which includes the confiscation of Arab lands for the purpose of building and expanding of non-native settlements.
We urge the UNHCHR, EU Parliament, International Human Rights Organizations, world leaders including leaders of the countries of Islamic Conference to condemn the unfair trials and sentencing by the Iranian regime and request transparent, fair and open trials in the presence of international observers and defense lawyers. We also urge the deployment of human rights monitors and fact finding missions to Khuzestan.
Karim Abdian, Ph. D.
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization