Aug 30, 2007

Ahwazi: Urgent Request for Inquiry by Arbour

Faced with continued extrajudicial executions the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization has issued an appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately investigate.

Faced with continued extrajudicial executions the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization has issued an appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately investigate.

Below are extracts from  a letter sent by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization to Louise Arbour:

To: Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, Switzerland.

Dear Madam Commissioner

Again, in a blatant defiance to the UN General Assembly, the European Parliament and international human rights organizations, Iran has began preparation to execute yet another 2 ethnic Iranian (Ahwazi) Arab opposition activists. Their names are as follows:

1. Abdiolreza Sanawati, 34 years old, married, resident of Ahwaz
2. Mohammadali Sawari, 37 years old, teacher, married with 5 children

The families of these men were informed on Monday, August 27, 2007 by Iranian authorities in Ahwaz that they will be executed within the next few days. This brings the number of executions of Ahwazi Arabs in the past two months to at least 14.

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 ( Despite that plea, on 14 February, 2007 Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children, Majad Albughbish, 30, single, were executed in Ahwaz by public hanging.

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, 

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 2006, 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, a resolution by 48 British MPs and similar actions by other EU parliaments, the execution of the these men were delayed.

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 […] has been brutally suppressed. Since April 15, 2005 […], over 5,000 Ahwazis were arrested, at least 131 were killed and over 150 were disappeared (believed to have been tortured and killed by Iranian security forces).


We kindly request that you visit Karoon and Sepidar prisons in Ahwaz City in Khuzestan province (al-Ahwaz) in southwest Iran to verify these arrests, trials, and executions and to speak to these prisoners, their families and their lawyers and call upon Iranian authorities to ensure due legal process in accordance with internationally recognized standards and to uphold its obligations with regard to civil and political rights, including the provision of equal rights to ethnic, religious and minority groups in Iran, such as the indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs.

Attached please see a short dossier of other human rights violations against indigenous and ethnic Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran.

Karim Abdian, PhD 

Executive Director
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization





 Source: Ahwaz Human Rights Organization