Sep 17, 2007

Ahwazi: Appeal Against Executions

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has issued an appeal for the international community to condemn the recent execution of three Ahwazi Arabs and to apply pressure on Tehran to halt further executions.

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has issued an appeal for the international community to condemn the recent execution of three Ahwazi Arabs and to apply pressure on Tehran to halt further executions.

Below are extracts from an appeal by the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization:

To: United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and other World Leaders, Human Rights Organizations and International NGOs.

Yesterday [13 September 2007], Reuters quoted Ahwaz prosecutor Mr. Pirani that Iran executed 3 more ethnic Arab-Iranian (Ahwazi) opposition activists. Once more, in blatant defiance to international public opinion and just days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, visited Iran, 3 long-serving Ahwazi political prisoners were executed by the Islamic Republic in the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Their names are as follows:

1. Abdolreza Sanawati, 34 years old, married, resident of Ahwaz

2. Mohammadali Sawari, 38 years old, teacher, married with 4 children

3. Jafar Sawari, 23, University Student, a resident of Ahwaz

This brings the number of executions of Ahwazi Arab political and human rights activists in the past twelve months to at least 15.

All three men were charged first for converting from Shi'a to Sunni, then for preaching Wahabbism and finally for bombing of oil installations in 2005 and 2006 in Zergan in Khuzestan. The charges were denied by all accused. Their trial lasted one day without legal representation.

Abdulreza Nawaseri has been sentenced to 35 years and has been in prison since 2000. His brother, Mehdi Nawaseri, 20 was hanged in public in Ahwaz City in March 2006 along with Ali Afrawi, 17.  Mr. Nawaseri was already in prison at the time of the alleged bomb attack in Zergan, for which the regime claims he was 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.” 

The other two men, brothers Mohammad Ali Sawari and Jafar Sawari had been in prison since 2005, along with a third brother, Hamzah Sawari. They also denied the charges of bombing oil installations. No evidence has been produced to substantiate the government's charges.

Following the execution on Monday, 11 September, 2007, some Ahwazi Arabs held spontaneous anti-government demonstrations in the streets of Kut Abdullah and in Ahwaz. The authorities reportedly responded with gunfire to subdue the crowds. Initial reports suggest that one person has been killed and scores have been injured.

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 joint 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 December 19, 2006 and on January 24 January, 2007  seven other Ahwazi human rights activists 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 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. Now however, the executions of these men are imminent, according to Mr.Musa Pirbani in an interview with the Iranian News Agency on Wednesday, September 13, 2007

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. These men and women are also awaiting execution and they may be executed any day, according to Iranian media.

All aforementioned men and women are members of the persecuted Ahwazi community in Southwestern Iranian province of Khuzesatn (al-Ahwaz), homeland to 5 million Ahwazi-Arabs. 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.

Although the 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, 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 […] 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). Iranian authorities level accusations against the USA, Great Britain and Israel as the cause of Ahwazi demands for democracy, social and economic justice. […]

We appeal to you to condemn the execution of these three men and call upon Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of the others. We also appeal to you to call upon Iran 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.

For further information, please see a dossier of other human rights violations against indigenous and ethnic Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran.

Ahwaz Human Rights Organization

(Source: Ahwaz Human Rights Organization)