Dec 22, 2006

Ahwaz: Iran Names Three Executed Ahwazis

The Iranian regime has named the three men it executed on Tuesday. They are: Ali Matouri Zadeh, Malek Bani Tamim and Alireza Asakre. The death sentences were condemned in unanimous vote by the European Parliament.

The Iranian regime has named the three men it executed on Tuesday. They are: Ali Matouri Zadeh, Malek Bani Tamim and Alireza Asakre. The regime has prevented relatives of the men from burying them in accordance with Islamic custom and is instead burying them in a mass, unmarked grave site called Lanat Abad or "place of the damned".

The death sentences against 11 men, including the three executed on Tuesday, were condemned in a unanimous vote by the European Parliament as well as an Early Day Motion in the British Parliament.

Ali Matouri Zadeh, 30, had been forced to confess to heading an insurgent group after months of torture and threats to the lives of his wife and baby daughter, who were also imprisoned by the regime. He had been a founding member of the Lejnat Al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), which attempted to advance Ahwazi Arab minority rights through constitutional and legal means. It was set up in 1999 and participated in elections. However, in the last parliamentary elections in 2004, conservatives in the regime barred candidates nominated by Lajnat Al-Wefagh. The group was dismantled, closing down legal possibilities for demands for Ahwazi rights. In November, it was outlawed for allegedly stirring up communalism against the regime - a claim that is without foundation.

Matouri Zadeh is described by friends as a gentle and principled human rights activist. He was arrested in February along with his pregnant wife, 26 year old school teacher Fahima Ismaili Badawi. She gave birth to a baby girl named Salma in the notorious Sepidar Prison in March. Both mother and daughter have remained in prison, with intelligence officials putting pressure on Fahima to denounce her husband, divorce him and change the girl's name to a Persian one. She refused and was sentenced in June to 15 years imprisonment by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary court in Ahwaz City.

Amnesty International has suggested the mother and daughter were held to pressure Matouri Zadeh to confess to participating in bomb attacks. Matouri Zadeh's "confession" was probably intended to save his wife and daughter's lives, but has also vindicated the regime's violent clamp-down on Ahwazi Arab reformist groups such as Wefaq.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "These men were innocent. The European Parliament, members of the British parliament and international human rights organisations agree that they were not granted a fair trial. The charges against them were false, they were denied access to lawyers and their trials were held in secret revolutionary courts. Despite all evidence that this was a miscarriage of justice, the regime went ahead and killed three innocent Ahwazi men with a further 11 men set to be executed in coming days and weeks.

"The executions are intended to intimidate, terrorise and collectively punish Ahwazi Arabs for daring to speak up against the regime's ethnic cleansing programme in the Ahwazi homeland. This programme of ethnic restructuring involves forced relocation, land confiscation, the elimination of local Arab language and heritage and institutionalised racial discrimination. The regime wants the resources of the Ahwazi homeland and is deliberately impoverishing them and denying them their birthright.

"We call on the international community - particularly the Arab League - to impose direct sanctions on Iran's religious and political elites, including the freezing of financial assets that are held in offshore bank accounts and are used finance terrorism. The wealth of the mullahs comes from the oil-rich and fertile land stolen from the Ahwazi Arabs. They must be denied access to profits made from the slaughter, persecution and impoverishment of Ahwazi Arabs."