Sep 26, 2008

West Balochistan: Continuing Suppression of Sunni

Active ImageThe Balochistan People's Party have issued a report documenting the ongoing Iranian human rights abuses in Balochistan.
Below is a report written by The Balochistan People's Party:

Balochistan with its rich mineral resources is the most strategically located region in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Balochistan is in these countries only gate-way to deep sea waters and the connecting point of Middle-East with the Indian sub-continent and the Far-East. This strategic importance of Balochistan is a matter of concern for economic and political security of the whole region. On the other hand, this strategic importance has not only brought peace and prosperity for people of Balochistan but has been a reason for suppression of this people by the countries dividing Balochistan.
A natural reaction of the Baloch people to this suppression is reflected in nationalist and religious resistance movements in Balochistan. While in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the resistance movement has mainly nationalistic demands, in Iran being a Shiite-religious state, it has both nationalistic and religious demands. Iran is ruled by clerics who’s thinking is based on Shiite religion philosophy. The constitution of Iran is based on this philosophy and it bans other religions in having political power. In other words, religious discrimination and suppression in Iran has been amended in the Constitution.
Although all religions are suppressed in Iran, in the recent years oppression and harassment of the Baloch people in general and specifically Sunni religious activists and workers have been intensified. Destruction of Sunni Mosques and religious teaching schools and at the same time imprisonment, assassination and killing of Sunni clerics are obvious indications of intensified suppression and discriminatory policies against Baloch people. [...] The aim of the Iranian regime is to induce and impose a Shiite and Sunni religious war.
In order to discredit Baloch people’s regional and international resistance and campaign for their human rights, national and religious identities, the totalitarian Shiite regime has chosen to divert it into a Shiite against Sunni war. Imposing such a religious war is the only way for the regime to gain support of the ordinary Iranian Shiites against Sunni Baloch. The regime has also used this Shiite-versus-Sunni religious conflicts inside Balochistan to split Baloch people in religious blocks.
In fact indiscriminate killing, expulsion, social, economical and religious discrimination have been part of a slow motion genocide policy in Iran against Baloch and other nationalities in the recent century. This policy of forceful assimilation has been pursued by various totalitarian Iranian regimes in order to build a nation state based on a single-nation “Persian national identity” and Shiite religion in multinational, multicultural and multi-religion Iran.
The theocratic and totalitarian regime of Iran, has mercilessly assassinated, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and executed mainly secular and national democratic activists in the last decades in Balochistan. Recently, the regime has targeted the religious activists and clerics since they have openly started resisting the regime’s religious discriminations in Balochistan. Religious workers have not been involved in political activities but concentrating on serving Sunni people in the time of their need for spiritual and religious teaching and guidance.
[The] Iranian regime is persecuting and suppressing the Sunni Baloch religious workers inside Iran. However, as a Shiite extremist regime it has allied itself with Sunni extremist groups like Taliban in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda in the world.
Some significant religious violations against Baloch people in Iran in recent months:
•    On 9th of August [2008] Mulavi Ahmed Naroi was arrested after he was summoned to clergy court in Mahshah and later was moved to Tehran. He was a high ranking Mulavi (religious leader) and was [a] member of the editorial board of “Sunni online” an online web-site focusing on Sunni religious theology. Since the latest attacks and arrest of religious workers and students were reported on the Sunnionline web-site the regime has put more pressure on Sunnionline activists. Another member of Sunnionline Mr Mohammad Yousef Ismailzahi was summoned and arrested on 9th of September [2008], his charges are unknown.
•    A second Sunni Mosque and religious school called “Abu Hanifa Mosque” in Azimabad a suburb of the city of Zabol was attacked and demolished on 27th of August 2008 and its students and staff were arrested. The security forces used several bulldozers and tractors to completely destroy the building of Imam Abu Hanifa Mosque.  Nobody knows what has happened to the students, teachers and staff of the school. In early September [2008] following the security forces destruction of the above mentioned Mosque, relatives and friends of the arrested people in the Imam Abu Hanifa Mosque were arrested by Iranian Intelligence services, indicating of an organised attack by regime ordered by high ranking authorities of the regime. Some of the arrestees are Nor Mohammad Shahbakhsh, Abdularahman Shabakhsh, Abdul Karim Shahbakhsh, Azzizulah Naroi, Mohammad Hossien Khalili and Mohammad Reza Rakhshani. After the Mosque's destruction seven women associated with this Mosque were also arrested, their identities are not known yet.

Previously another Mosque in the same district was attacked  and destroyed by associates of the Revolutionary Guard in the Zabol area of Balochistan. The Mosque was closed and its Imam, Hafez Mohammad Ali Shahbkhsh was arrested on 27th of October 2007.
•    Monday 16th June 2008, 33 military vehicles full of Mersad armed forces (the special security force in Iran, active in Balochistan in particular for suppression purposes) attacked the village of Nasirabad. The aim of attack was to arrest Moulavai Abed Bahramzahi (the local Sunni religious clerk in the village). This incident was reported by Balochistan Human Right Watch on 18th June 2008. The attack was encountered by inhabitants of the village and security forces attacked protesters and injured and arrested several people. Three persons, Abdoulbaset Vatankhah, Abdoulhalim Vatankhah and Khalilulrahman Bahramzahi were seriously injured and were hospitalized and then were imprisoned. In addition to those injured everal people were arrested some are still in prison. The names of five of them are as follows:
1- Abid Gowharmzhai Son of Son of Dr. Mohammad karim, residence of Nasser Abad.
2- Hafiz Salahoudin Gowhramzahi Son of Moulevi Adul Karim, residence of Bandan.
3- Moulevi Khalil Zarai, residence of Iranshahr.
4- Moulevi Abdul Majid Salahzahi Son of Haji Nawazkhan from Iranshahr.
5- Oubid Zadkohi son of karim Bakhsh, residence of Zardkoh, Iranshar.
•    On 9th April 2008 two religious activists were hanged in Zahidan prison after having confessed under torture, activities against Iranian regime. They were humiliated in public and their confessions were broadcasted in the Iranian TV. Iranian regime accused them as supporters of the armed resistance groups with links to western countries.
•    The politics of Iranian regime which considers Shiite faith as the righteous and the truth, has made suppression, expulsion, indiscriminate killing of Sunni people and distraction of Sunni religious masque and sites as one of its state characteristics. The Baloch have always been under pressure and suppression and they have resisted the regimes policies by organising passive popular resistance.
Recent events in the region and in the wider world have made the religious fascist regime of Iran more aggressive. The regime is using the international situation in its favour to suppress Baloch people and target religious workers in Balochistan. The persecution of these religious workers is an attempt from the regime to suppress pragmatic religious workers and to give more political ammunition to extremist religious groups and ultimately to start a wider war against Baloch people to increase its control over Baloch lands and to further enhance its assimilation policies and demographic manipulation to make Baloch a minority in their ancestral land.
Balochistan Peoples Party demands from the international community, human rights organisations and countries in the region to put pressure on the Iranian regime to:
1- Stop [the] persecution, arrest and killing of religious workers and activists.
2- Stop [the] destruction of Sunnis Mosques and religious sites and Baloch [..] homes.
3- Release all political prisoners and religious workers that have been arrested.
4- Stop [the] persecution, harassment, detention, torture and execution of innocent young Baloch men and women.