Feb 02, 2008

Ahwazi: Parliament Condemns Executions

In a damning vote, European parliamentarians condemned Iran’s execution of an Ahwazi-Arab and called on Iran to respect the rights of others in detention.

In a damning vote, European parliamentarians condemned Iran’s execution of an Ahwazi-Arab and called on Iran to respect the rights of others in detention.

Below is an article published by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society:

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution that condemned Iran's execution this week of Zamel Bawi […], a son of moderate Ahwazi Arab tribal leader Hajj Salem Bawi.

The resolution was adopted with 559 MEPs voting in favour, 52 against and 44 abstaining. The European Parliament said it "protests vehemently against the execution in Iran on 30 January 2008 at 4 am local time of the Ahwazi activist Zamel Bawi, the 19th Ahwazi activist executed in the last twelve months, and urges the Iranian government to desist from executing the Dutch citizen and human-rights activist Faleh Abdulah al-Mansouri and the UNHCR-registered refugees Rasoul Ali Mazrea and Said Saki, whose resettlement to Norway has been secured, as well as to allow them to proceed to their countries of citizenship or refuge."

Of the MEPs present at the vote, 96% of the centre-right European Peoples Party MEPs, 97% of the Socialist MEPs and 100% of the Liberal MEPs voted in favour of the resolution. As such, the three main political groupings were near-unanimous in their condemnation of the execution of Zamel Bawi. Just over half those voted against belonged to the Communist group and a quarter were Greens, including the UK's two Green MEPs who had previously described the execution campaign against Ahwazi Arabs as "ethnic cleansing" […].

The charges against 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 [2007], 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 Zamel Bawi, were flawed, the charges baseless, 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 Presidency of the European Council, the UN General Assembly, 49 British MPs, the European Parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned their trials as unjust and unfair, and appealed for a halt to further execution.

The then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ignored an appeal by Zamel Bawi's son […], who pleaded for UN intervention to save his father's life […]. He wrote: "I have spent my nights wailing, crying and appealing to God who advised me to ask you for help. God of the universe told me that there still exist a few people on this earth who believe in justice, rightness, and truth. God also told me that some decent humans who will be able to help are people like you, those who organize to protect human rights and humanity, and those justice-loving people. Please act quickly with all means; I do not want to be disappointed with the United Nations ...

"I love my father; I want to grow up with a father who cares for and loves me. I want him to hug me, console me and feel for me... [My father] speaks for freedom ...

"People of the world, innocent children of the world, please include your voice with mine so that I can be heard loudly and say: do not kill my father. Please call with me for his release, my call alone is not enough since I called and cried many times alone, but I could do nothing. Please help me so that I can stop the execution of my father and the fathers of other Ahwazi children. Please, please, please."

Responding to Zamel Bawi's execution, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) said: "This new wave of executions is designed to intimidate and terrorise 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."

Zamel Bawi was a 30-year-old businessman who owned a number of computer shops in Ahwaz City. He was arrested along with his four brothers, Mohsen, Imad, Hani and Moslem […], and their cousin, Asad. According to reports, none of the men were allowed legal representation and the court sessions took place behind closed doors in October 2005. The rest of the family have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms, although their lives may still be in danger as the Iranian regime has summarily executed other Ahwazi activists or murdered them under torture.

According to Daniel Brett, chair of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society: "The Iranian government is not only executing innocent men, it is killing or jailing entire families in its attempt to terrorise the Ahwazi Arab people. We know that the entire family of Ahwazi psychologist Dr Awdeh Afrawi have been executed, murdered or imprisoned; Dr Afrawi himself is currently dying in prison, being deliberately denied the medication he needs to survive.

"The Nasseri and Bawi tribes appear to be key targets, due to the fact that their lands are oil-rich and members of these tribes have been heavily involved in opposition to the government's land confiscation programme and its forced displacement of Arabs."