Feb 14, 2007

Ahwazi: Executions Condemned

Today AHRO issued an open letter condemning Iran’s execution of Ahwazi activists. Earlier this month, the UNPO Presidency decided to launch Memberwide appeals in the face of imminent executions of several Ahwazi Arabs.

At the latest meeting of the UNPO Presidency, held at the European Parliament in Brussels from 1 to 3 February 2007, concern was raised at distressing reports of the execution of peaceful activists from the Ahwazi Arab community. The UNPO Presidency resolved to urge all UNPO Member representatives to campaign for an end to these executions.

[More information on Presidency Meeting]

UNPO remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation faced by the Ahwazi in Iran and has previously issued the following appeals on this matter:

[UNPO Appeals for Halt to Execution of 7 Ahwazi Activists in Iran]

[UNPO Appeal on Imminent Execution of Ahwazi Activists in Iran]

Since the issuing of these appeals, and the subsequent outcries of condemnation from the international community, a further four Ahwazi activists, Mohammad Chaabpour, Abdolamir Farjolah Chaab, Alireza Asakereh, and Khalaf Khanafereh (Khazirawi), were executed on 24 January 2007.

Recent reports indicate that the execution of three more activists, Abdulreza Sanawati, Majed Alboghobish and Reisan Sawari, by the Iranian authorities is imminent.


Below is an open letter published by Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO):

General Secretary of the United Nations,
World Leaders,
International Human Rights Organizations and NGOs, and to the World Media:

 Once again, in a blatant defiance to the United Nations [see below 1] the European Commission [see below 2] and international human rights organizations [see below 3], Iran has began preparation to execute another 3 Iranian (Ahwazi) Arab opposition activists. Their relatives were told that they are due to be executed tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February 2007. Their names are as follows:
1. Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children

2. Majad Albughbish, 30, single from Maashur (Mahshahr)
3 Abdolreza Sanawati, 34, married from Ahwaz City

 This will bring the number of executions of Ahwazi Arabs in the past two months to 10.

 Also today Mr. Risan Sawari, a 32 years old Ahwazi-Arab teacher, married from Kut-Abdullah in Ahwaz, was killed under torture in Mali-Rah IRGC prison in Ahwaz-City.  Mr. Sawari has been on hunger strike for the past 20 days protesting his prison conditions- including over a year detention in solitary confinement, no family visitation rights or the rights to see a lawyer. Mr. Sawari was a civil rights activist, and member of al-Wafagh Party, a reformist political party under former president Khatami.

On 10 January 2007, independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Mr. Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture, issued a statement urging the Iranian Government to "stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing”

[More information on UNHRC Press Release]

On 24 January four out of the seven, Mohammad Chaabpour, Abdolamir Farjolah Chaab, Alireza Asakereh, and Khalaf Khanafereh (Khazirawi) were executed in defiance of the UN plea and the international Community and contrary to Islamic faith which prohibits execution in the month of Moharam, [see below 4]

The remaining three are to be executed tomorrow.

On Tuesday December 19, 2006, the Khuzestan branch of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported that Malek Banitamim, Abdullah Solaimani, and Ali Matorizadeh were executed for "waging war on God" in Ahwaz City. This was done one day after the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning Iran’s human rights violations.

On March of this year 2 other ethnic Ahwazi Arabs, Ali Afrawi (age 17) and Mehdi Nawaseri (20 years old), were publicly hang in Ahwaz City for similar charges, after a TV broadcast of their “confession” was shown a day earlier on Khuzestan TV.

On November 13, 2006, the Iranian regime broadcast videos of forced confessions of 11 Ahwazi Arabs on Khuzestan TV but due to international outrage including unanimous condemnation by the European Parliament in a resolution on November 16, 2006, as well as a resolution by 48 British MPs and similar actions by other EU parliaments, the execution of the these men were delayed.

On November 9, Abbas Jaafari Dowlatabadi, head of Iran’s Judiciary in the southern province of Khuzistan, told the Islamic Republic News Agency that Iran’s Supreme Court has confirmed the execution sentence of at least 19 of the 35 Iranian Arabs sentenced to death by Ahwaz Revolutionary Court

On 8 June, 2006, Khuzestan Revolutionary Court announced that 35 indigenous Ahwazi Arabs (including 3 brothers) were sentenced to death following a one-day trial in absence of lawyers or witnesses. Two of these 35 men sentenced to death, Nazem Bureihi and Abdolreza Nawaseri, were already serving prison sentences for insurgency at the time of the bomb attacks for which the regime claims they were responsible for.  “One of the wonders of the Iranian Judiciary is that it can accuse a person of carrying out bombings while he’s in prison,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “That lays bare the arbitrariness of his conviction.”  

These men have been found guilty of allegedly bombing oil installations at Southwestern Iranian province of Khuzesatn (al-Ahwaz), homeland to 5 million Ahwazi-Arabs. All men are members of the persecuted Ahwazi community. The trials were deeply flawed, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international and Iranian human rights organizations... The convictions are evidently arbitrary and are intended to collectively punish Ahwazi Arabs for opposing the regime.

All these men were tortured into making false confessions. Their lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the trial, which was held in secret. The lawyers for the condemned men ( Khalil Saeedi, Mansur Atashneh, Dr Abdulhasan Haidari, Jawad Tariri, Faisal Saeedi and Taheri Nasab), all Ahwazi-Arabs but one, have been arrested for complaining about the illegal and unjust nature of the men's trials. They have been charged with threatening national security.

Although Ahwazi-Arab homeland in Iran's Khuzestan province is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world and represents up to 90 per cent of Iran's oil production. Yet this community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Ahwazis are subjected to repression, racial discrimination and faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation.

Peaceful opposition among Ahwazi Arabs to the Iranian regime's racist policies of ethnic cleansing has been brutally suppressed. Since April 15, 2005 the beginning of the Ahwazi Intifada (Uprising), over 25,000 Ahwazis were arrested, at least 131 were killed and over 150 were disappeared (believed to have been tortured and killed by Iranian security forces). Iranian authorities level accusations against the USA, Great Britain and Israel as the cause of Ahwazi demands for democracy, social and economic justice. Ethnic cleansing against Iranian-Arabs in Khuzestan has intensified since the mid-1990s, particularly following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

We urge for an immediate action to pressure the Iranian government to commute these sentences.  Your actions can help save the lives of these men.   Thank You.”

[1] [2] [3] [4]