Nov 14, 2006

UNPO Call to Stop Public Executions of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran

Several Ahwazi activists fear imminent public hanging in Iran. The issue of unfair trials and executions of Arab Ahwazis has been raised by UNPO at the UN and appeals issued to UN Special Rapporteurs. AHRO and UNPO has in the last few days issued new appeals to UN bodies and the European Parliament, as eleven Ahwazis fear imminent execution.

The Hague, 14 November 2006 - UNPO has issued appeals to Philip Alston, the United Nations’ (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, and Mrs. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the public executions of 11 Ahwazi Arabs sentenced to public hanging. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO), has also issued appeals to several MEPs; Hon. Ms. Angelika Beer, Chairwoman of the Iran Delegation in the European Parliament; Hon. Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament, Member of European Parliament (MEP); Elmar Brok, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Hélène Flautre; Paolo Casaca; and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, urging immediate action to halt the executions.


Among the 11 ethnic Arab-Iranian (Ahwazi-Arabs) rights activists, just Monday, November 13, 2006, Saeed Hamedan confessed to insurgency on Iranian TV, indicating that he will be among the executed. Unlike the other ten sentenced to die, he has not been sentenced by Iranian courts, making his execution the consequence of an illegal summary judgment by Iranian authorities. All 11 Ahwazi Arabs were convicted after one-day secret trials that were internationally condemned. Early Monday, the forced confessions of the 10 convicted Ahwazi Arabs, among the 19 Ahwazis convicted for mohareb (enmity with God) after being originally convicted of terrorism offences, were broadcast on Iranian television.


British and European Parliamentary members contacted by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) - including Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, Labour MP Chris Bryant, and Conservative MP Michael Gove - condemned the executions and urged the European Commission to take action immediately. Not only were confessions obtained under torture, but the ten men were denied access to their lawyers, and many of their lawyers were arrested for complaints regarding the unfair, secret trials. Two Ahwazis among those sentenced to death were in prison, serving time for the crime of insurgency, when the bomb attacks they were allegedly involved in occurred. The Iranian Judiciary failed to provide dates and details of the trials of 9 of the convicted men.


Dr. Lucas stated that the policy of the Iranian government towards the Ahwazi Arabs was one of ethnic cleansing, and asked the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) to investigate the systematic practice of imprisoning and executing Ahwazis. The Ahwazis, an indigenous Arab group, comprise 3 percent of Iran’s population.  Residing mainly in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, they are a majority in Al-Ahwaz, which contains most of Iran’s oilfields. In the last year alone, it is reported that 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed, and 150 have disappeared. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have reported on the imprisonment of Ahwazi children along with their mothers, a tactic used to coerce Ahwazi men who are politically active to turn themselves in. The Iranian government has also banned political parties, trade unions, student groups, and the right of Arabs to stand for election.


UNPO remains deeply concerned about the imminent executions and the ongoing situation for the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran. UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin appealed to Commissioner Arbour and Special Rapporteur Alston to:


- urge Iran to stop the execution of the 11 convicted men and grant fair trials to the 19 men convicted of the bombing;


-call upon the Iranian government to cease its execution of Ahwaz Arabs for peaceful protest; and


-address the issue of unfair trials and extrajudicial and summary executions of the indigenous Ahwaz Arab people.