Feb 01, 2008

Ahwazi: Detainees Remain on Death Row

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization is appealing for international action to save the lives of three Ahwazi-Arab detainees.

Ahwaz Human Rights Organization is appealing for international action to save the lives of three Ahwazi-Arab detainees after the execution of a fellow detainee today.

Below is an appeal by Ahwaz Human Rights Organization:

To: World Leaders, International Human Rights Organizations and Media

Despite our appeal of 1/14/2008 and the appeals of the international community and a large number of international human rights organizations, this morning at 4 AM, the Iranian regime executed  Mr. Zamel Bawi, , 29 years old, married with one child, resident of Ahwaz, a small business owner and the son  of Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi. This execution took place in Karoon prison in Ahwaz (Zamel’s 4 brothers remain in jail).  This has come after the execution of four other Ahwazis on 12/30/2007: Ahmad Marmazi, Abdolhussein Harabii, Hussein Asakereh, and Mehdi Haidari.

In the 12 months, at least 19 Ahwazi-Arab activists have been publicly hanged (three were executed just days after UN Human Rights Commissioner, Ms. Arbour, visited Tehran in September 2007).

The following three are in danger of imminent execution:

1 Rasoul Ali Mazrea (56), a UNHCR-registered refugee slated for settlement to Norway

2 Said Saki UNHCR-35, registered refugee slated for settlement to Norway

3 Faleh Abdulah al-Mansouri, 60 Dutch Citizen and a human rights activist

The news of their impending executions has come from family members as well as the Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Amnesty International, and the Human Rights & Democracy Activists group, and from Mr. Musa Pirbani, Khuzestan’s prosecutor.  Mr.  Mazrea, Mr. al-Mansouri and Mr. Saki, along with 3 other Ahwazis, were deported by the Syrian government in May 2006. The men were all recognized refugees under UNHCR protection, and were pending third-country resettlement at the time of their deportation to Iran.

The charges against Mr. Zamel Bawi and others include hoisting the Ahwazi flag, giving their children Sunni names, converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism, preaching “Wahabbism”, and being “Mohareb” or enemies of god, which carries death sentence. Other charges are “destabilizing the country”, “attempting to overthrow the government”, “possession of improvised explosives”, “sabotage of oil installations” and being a “threat to national security.”

Last year, Mr. Emadeldin Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights activist, in a letter to the chief of the judiciary Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, argued that the trials of Ahwazi Arabs, including the trial of Mr. Zamel Bawi, were flawed, the charges baseless, and that the sentencing was based on a spurious interpretation of law and that no evidence has been presented.  Mr. Nkbakht, a prominent defense lawyer in Iran, made a similar statement. Others, including the President of the European Council, the UN General Assembly, 48 British MPs, the EU Parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned their trials as unjust and unfair, and appealed for a halt to further execution.

This new wave of executions is designed to intimidate and terrorize the indigenous Ahwazi-Arab population into submission. 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 percent of Iran's oil production, the community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Ahwazis are subjected to repression and racial discrimination, and are faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation.

Also, on Friday 12 October 2007, in the predominantly Arab city of Hamidieh in Khuzestan (al-Ahwaz), some 200 residents were arrested following a peaceful march against poverty, unemployment and excessive repression and persecution, on the occasion of this year’s Muslim Eid ul-Fitr holiday. On January 11, 2008 during the funeral of Mehdi Haidari in the Seyed-ol-Shohada Mosque in Shilingaba, a poor section of Ahwaz, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) attacked about 800 funeral attendees and arrested 150 to 200 of them. There are a number of juveniles among the detainees. Since the arrests 3 weeks ago, the families of detainees have been gathering outside the Khuzestan governor's office, demanding the immediate release of their children and relatives. None but a very few have been released so far.

The Iranian government refuses to divulge any information on the whereabouts of the detainees.

We appeal to you the world leaders and the international community to condemn today’s execution of Zamel Bawi and latest wave of arbitrary arrests and executions. We urge you to call upon the Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of the others. We request that you further 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, including 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