Apr 16, 2007

Ahwazi: Anniversary Sparks Mass Arrests

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization reports of mass arrests of at least 100 Ahwazi Arabs ahead of celebrations marking the second anniversary of wide-scale government protests in the region.

Below is an excerpt from an article published by British Ahwazi Friendship Society:

The Iranian regime has arrested at least 100 Ahwazi Arabs ahead of protests marking the second anniversary of the Ahwazi intifada.

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) has published the names some of those arrested in the past few days - see the bottom of this article. Security forces conducted the arrests in an attempt to prevent a traditional Arabic cultural event in Hamidiya town. Poets were among those detained. Some reports put the number of arrests at over 200.

Today (15 April) marks the second anniversary of the Ahwazi intifada, in which the Iranian regime lost control over large parts of Khuzestan - a region known locally as Al-Ahwaz or Arabistan - during massive anti-government protests. The protests were sparked by revelations on Al-Jazeera TV that the Khatami administration was conducting an "ethnic restructuring" project to reduce the proportion of Arabs in the province from around 60 per cent to under a third. A letter written by Ali Abtahi while he was Vice-President detailed the plans, which involved moving non-Arabs into the province. Over 160 Ahwazi Arab demonstrators were killed by security forces in the uprising.

Abtahi denied he wrote the letter, but the Iranian regime has continued […] with the confiscation of 155 sq km of land on the left bank of the Shatt al-Arab waterway for the military-industrial Arvand Free Zone. Thousands of farmers are being displaced as entire villages are taken over.

Meanwhile, demonstrations have continued in Arab-populated urban slums, where many of the displaced end up. The regime has moved to clear the slums of Arabs and has bombed the Sepidar district of Ahwaz City, destroying hundreds of homes.

The government has responded to unrest by arresting and executing human rights activists and members of the Lejnat al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), which had sought to challenge ethnic persecution of Arabs through constitutional means including contesting elections.

Recent arrests:

1. Ghaleb Manabi (artist)
2. Najem Cheldawi
3. Ali Manabi
4. Chamel Sawari
5. Ali Haidari
6. Razagh Haidari
7. Ali Ayed Badawi (poet)
8. Karim Hazbawi
9. Ali Khanfari (poet)
10. Abdul ali Mazraee
11. Hashem Mazraee
12. Hamzah Zergani
13. Mohammad Zergani
14. Salem Zergani
15. Mossa Thamer Zergani
16. Mustafa Sawari
17. Kazem Helichi
18. Ahmad Huwaizah
19. Abbas Hamadi
20. Yasser Sayahi
21. Yusof Sawari
22. Fahad Silawi
23. Mustafa Silawi
24. Hamed Cheldawi
25. Najem Cheldawi
26. Ahmad sawari
27. hamid sawari
28. Hasan Sawari (son of Chamel Sawari)
29. Ali Sawari (son of Chamel Sawari)
30. Abdulrahman Cheldawi
31. Haidar Haidari
32. Ammar Mahawi
33. Maher Mahawi
34. Aref Abbasi
35. Abbas Torfi

Mossa Dahimi and Ahmad Salemi have gone missing and their whereabouts are unknown.