May 03, 2004

Ahwazi: Iranian Court issued its verdict against an Arab-Iranian human rights activist

Ahwazi Human Rights Organization strongly condemns the sentencing of Ali Al-Chaldawi by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Court
On April 3, 2004, Khuzestan branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Court of Appeals, upheld and issued its final verdict against Mr. Ali Al-Chaldawi, An Arab-Iranian human rights activist, sentencing him to 2-1/2 years in prison.

Mr. Al-Chaldawi is charged with “Establishment of a library and distributing free text books to Ahwazi (Khuzestani) Arab school children, in Arabic, their mother language”, according to Mr. Chaldwai’s lawyer. The prosecution rejected the defense’s arguments which were based on the basic human rights bestowed to the accused in accordance with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory.

Although accusation such as “separatist” and similar charges are not new and were used by the Iranian regime to detain, imprison, execute or exile thousand of Ahwazi Arab political activists; this is the first time that the regime publicly admits a deliberate attempt to rededicate the indigenous identity, culture and language of the Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority in Iran by disallowing private libraries and distribution of Arabic language text books and reading materials. This shows Iranian government’ utter disregard for international law and toward the demands of the ethnic Arab minority for exercise of their lawful cultural, linguistic and other basic human rights, including studying and speaking their mother language.

Lately, the Iranian regime has intensified its campaign of persecution and terror against Ahwazi Arab political activists in violation of all human rights protocols. Especially article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that clearly states “In countries with ethnic, linguistics and religious minorities- members of these groups can not be denied their rights such as the rights to study and speak their native language”. Moreover, this action by the Iranian revolutionary court is clearly against the latest resolution adopted on 23 March 2004 during the 60th annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, which guarantees the basic human rights of indigenous peoples and nations. An official Iranian delegation, a swell as a delegation from our organization (AHRO), was present during this session.
Mr. Al-Chaldawi was arrested several times last year and each time was released on heavy bonds. Mr. Al-Chaldawi was also a candidate for election to the Iranian parliament. Despite his disqualification by the Iranian authorities, over 50,000 Arab citizens of Ahwaz voted from him, by name. Thus, this sentencing is also against the wishes of at least 50,000 citizens of Ahwaz.

Ahwaz Human Rights Organization condemns the sentencing against Mr. Al-Chaldawi and considers it a flagrant violation of the tenets of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international law. We demand that Mr. Al-Chaldawi be released immediately.

We request that all human rights organizations and free people to help us secure the release of Mr. Al-Chaldawi and stop the Iranian government’s vicious campaign against the indigenous Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority in Iran.