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Saturday, 30 April 2011

RFE/RL: Dervishes Protest In Northeastern Iran

 






 
Gonabadi dervishes are reported to have converged on the northeastern Iranian city of Beydokht this week to protest the summoning of their leader to court, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Mostafa Azmayesh, a representative of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Sufi Muslim community outside Iran, told Radio Farda that around 5,000 dervishes from various Iranian cities gathered in Beydokht, burial place of leaders of the order, on April 25.

Nour Ali Tabandeh, the leader of the Nematollahi Gonabadi dervish order, has been summoned to a revolutionary court in Tehran for "causing a threat to public health by burying the dead in the Soltani Shrine of Beydokht."

Azmayesh added the authorities have warned that the dervishes have no right to bury their dead in the shrine, as doing so is "unhygienic," and therefore illegal.

Even though the authorities have banned the practice, "the dervishes still try to bury their dead in that shrine in accordance with their tradition," Azmayesh explained. He said a number of dervishes have been arrested and jailed for doing so.

Eight Gonabadi dervishes who protested the ban on Sufi burials in Beydokht were arrested on April 13.

Azmayesh said the dervishes will continue their protest until their demands are met.

The U.S. State Department in its most recent report on religious freedom cited "growing government repression" of Sufi communities and religious practices in Iran.

Iran: Halt Execution of Kurdish Activist








(New York) - The Iranian Judiciary should immediately halt any planned execution of Sherko (Bahman) Moarefi and rescind his death sentence, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch believes that Moarefi, currently being held at Saqez prison in Kurdistan province, may be at imminent risk of execution.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the authorities have set May 1, 2011, as the date for Moarefi's execution, following a death sentence imposed in 2009 for belonging to a banned Kurdish separatist group, but his lawyers have been unable to get official word of the date. On April 28, Moarefi began a hunger strike in Saqez prison in order to protest his "vague and unclear" legal status, according to several Iranian human rights groups.

"The uncertainty surrounding Moarefi's pending execution causes extraordinary hardship and suffering to both him and his family," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "And we strongly suspect that his conviction was based on an unfair trial. Moarefi may be at imminent risk of execution and we urge the authorities to rescind his death sentence at once."

A Revolutionary Court sentenced Moarefi to death following a closed-door trial on terrorism-related charges in early 2009. In April Moarefi's lawyers informed Roozonline, a Persian-language media outlet, that the Supreme Court was still reviewing their client's case and rejected reports that an execution date had been set. Later, in a public letter reportedly written by Moarefi from prison and dated April 15, 2011, the detainee wrote that on March 22 authorities at Saqez prison verbally informed him that his execution was scheduled for May 1, 2011. On April 29, in an interview with the Persian-language Radio Zamaneh, one of Moarefi's lawyers, Ahmad Saeed Sheikhi, said that the Supreme Court had apparently confirmed the death sentence and Moarefi's execution order had been sent to prison authorities for implementation on April 26. He noted, however, that neither he nor his colleague had received any official confirmation from the Judiciary regarding the date and method of their client's execution. Saeed Sheikhi maintained that the execution order should be rescinded because the head of the Judiciary had previously acknowledged that the death sentence had been issued in error.

Authorities arrested Moarefi in October 2008 close to the Iran-Iraq border on suspicion that he was a member of Komala, a leftist Kurdish separatist group branded as a terrorist organization by the Iranian government. The Revolutionary Court in the Kurdish-majority city of Saqez sentenced Moarefi to death for the "acting against the national security" and moharebeh, or "enmity against God," a term usually applied to persons accused of taking up arms. Moarefi's lawyers maintain that their client was a supporter of Komala but not an active member. They also contend that Moarefi was involved in peaceful dissent at the time of his arrest and Komala had officially renounced armed struggle in the 1990s. They appealed the lower court's ruling both on substantive and procedural grounds.

An appellate court later affirmed the revolutionary court's ruling. In October 2009, a judge in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj ordered the execution of Moarefi and two other Kurdish political prisoners, Ehsan Fattahian and Habibollah Latifi, for the crime of moharebeh. Authorities executed Fattahian on November 11, 2009, allegedly for his involvement with Komala. Latifi was due to be executed for his involvement with "anti-revolutionary groups" on December 26, 2010, but his sentence was not carried after Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations launched an international campaign to save his life. However, Latifi remains on death row.

At least 15 other Kurdish political prisoners are known to be on death row awaiting execution on various national security charges including moharebeh.

Under articles 186 and 190-91 of Iran's penal code, anyone found responsible for taking up arms against the state, or belonging to an organization taking up arms against the government, may be considered guilty of moharebeh and sentenced to death. Human Rights Watch has documented numerous cases where Iranian security forces used physical and psychological coercion including torture to secure false confessions in security-related cases, and courts have convicted defendants of moharebeh in trials where prosecutors relied primarily if not solely on confessions and failed to provide any convincing evidence establishing the defendant's guilt.

On January 15, 2011, Iranian rights groups reported that authorities had executed Hossein Khezri following a revolutionary court conviction for moharebeh. State-controlled media announced that day that prison authorities in West Azerbaijan province had hanged a member of the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an armed Iranian Kurdish group, but did not reveal the person's identity. Mohammad Olyaeifard, Khezri's lawyer, earlier said that Khezri had joined PJAK militants in Iraq when he was younger, but that he had never participated in the group's military wing and that his interrogators tortured him to falsely confess to taking part in a violent attack that happened in 2008.

On May 9, 2010, authorities executed five prisoners, four of them ethnic Kurds charged with having ties to an armed Kurdish group. Authorities failed to notify their lawyers in advance and prevented delivery of the bodies to the families for burial. Human Rights Watch documented numerous trial irregularities in these cases, including credible allegations of torture, forced confessions, and lack of adequate access to a lawyer.
"Given what we know about how Iran's revolutionary courts operate, the government's treatment of Kurdish dissidents, and the vagueness of the charge of moharebeh, there is every reason to believe that Moarefi did not receive a fair trial," Stork said.

Fears surrounding the possibility of Moarefi's imminent execution are heightened by the sharp rise in the rate of executions in Iran since December 2010 - Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations documented at least 86 executions during the first 45 days of 2011 alone. According to official sources, Iranian authorities executed least 135 people so far in 2011, but the actual number is believed to be higher. At least two of those executed in 2011 are believed to have been juvenile offenders.

In a report released in March 2011, Amnesty International said that "Iranian officials acknowledged the execution of 252 people, including five women and one juvenile offender in 2010." But the organization reported that it had received "credible reports of more than 300 other executions which were not officially acknowledged."

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its irreversible, cruel, and inhumane nature.

RFE/RL: Eight Dervishes Arrested In Iran





 

Eight Gonabadi dervishes are reported to have been arrested in different cities across Iran, in a fresh crackdown on members of the Shi'a-Sufi order, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The eight -- Alireza Abbasi, Ramin Sultankhah, Abdurazah Kashani, Shukrullah Husseini, Ali Kashanifer, Mohamad Marvi, Ali Marvi, and Zaffar Mobeeni -- were detained on April 13 in the cities of Gonabad, Beydokht, and Quchan, and taken to Vakilabad prison in Mashhad.

Farshid Yadullahi, a lawyer for the dervish association and a member of the Nematollahi Sufi community, told RFE/RL that the eight were arrested in connection with a protest two years ago for which they were already punished.

He said they were among a group of Gonabadi dervishes detained and tried in Gonabad in summer 2009 for protesting a ban on Sufi burials in Beydokht. The city is special to Gonabadi dervishes as it is the birthplace of some of their leaders. Most of the group -- including those arrested this week -- later received sentences of flogging or imprisonment.

Yadullahi said the eight again face charges of disrupting public order.

Nearly 200 Gonabadi dervishes were summoned to court last month for questioning over allegations of "disrupting public order" and "insulting high-ranking authorities of the regime."

The U.S. State Department in its most recent report on religious freedom cited "growing government repression" of Sufi communities and religious practices in Iran.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

ICHRI: Violent Suppression of Ahwazi Arab Protests Must Stop







(28 April 2011) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed deep concern about the violent suppression of the ethnic Arab population in Ahwaz, Iran, which has reportedly led to the death of dozens of protesters as well as numerous injuries and arrests since 15 April 2011. The Ahwazi Organization for the Defense of Human Rights reported that 48 people have been killed, and hundreds arrested.
According to information received by the Campaign, violence against peaceful protesters has occurred in Abada, Mohanmareh, Ahwaz, Falhieh, and Hamideh in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. The Arab minority in Ahwaz includes between 8-10 million persons, most of whom follow Sunni Islam.
Protests began on 15 April as a “Day of Rage” to commemorate events in 2005, when numerous Ahwazi Arab protesters were killed and injured by the authorities. Revolutionary Guard units reportedly fired upon protesters in a number of communities, while Internet access, electricity and other services were also curtailed.
Over many years, harsh discrimination against the Ahwazi Arab community has been documented by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Secretary-General has reported that various thematic human rights rapporteurs have sent communications to the Iranian government concerning unfair trials leading to death sentences, torture, discrimination and abuses of the freedom of expression.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls for an immediate end to violations of the rights of Ahwazi Arab Iranian citizens to freedom of assembly and expression, and joins Amnesty International in calling for an independent investigation of the tragic deaths of protesters since 15 April.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

IMHRO Update about recent Ahwazi Arabs in south west of Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)


Ref.IMHRO.81

24.04.2011

The sources inside Ahwaz told IMHRO that clashes between Iranian police and Ahwazi demonstrators continued in south west of Iran. An Abadan, Mohammareh, Ahwaz, Falhieh, Hamidieh and various part of Ahwaz clashes continue. According to some reports Unrest was so wide spread that security forces asked for fresh forces. Peaceful demonstrators attacked by police on 15th of April. Security forces had a heavy presence, most main streets and squares are closed in big town and cities.

Some sources reported about 40 people had killed; IMHRO could confirm 27 people had killed by the names:

Ali neisi
Ali Matori
Mohammad Morabi
Hasan mansori
Kazem latifi
Mohamamd farahni
Sodeh abu rahamn
Ali mazaravi
Husain kaabi
Jafar helalatjamil ghobishavi
Abdul wahed Ahmadi
Naser lavimi
Hasan sharifi
Rasul heydari
Sadegh deris
Mansur torfi
Jasme mazraeh
Rahim saki
Younes sadawi
Heleiel mosavi
Taher jasemi
Foad kaabi
Karim jabberi
Abd al-Rahman Ibn Qasem al-Badawi
Basem Abiat
Yghub Khanfari
salahain beit hardan

Their family was told by security services to keep silent and not talk with the media. Some bodies still did not returned and many others who are wounded refuse of going to hospital, as fear of arrests by Iranian security service.

 About 700 people arrested And following names of arrested people had reported so far: abdollah al kaabi, eisa neisi, ali safar al zergbani, abdolahh alfrhud al jeludi, Mohammad ibn al atab al sari and Shareeh al hadi, eisa sawari, al jawad al heidari, salam ababs abeiat, jamal nazal abeiat, jasem abeiat, ahmed veisi, abdolreza albu ghubish, mohammad al sari, sadegh tamimi, yasin bavi, haidar heidari, mohamamd Hassan albu ghuibish, rafieh zargani, Abdullah farhud jaldavi, eisa al sari, ali javad heidari. alsheikh ali abdularim alnamah (al-banitruf tribes).

The arrested people have been taken to unknown location. No new of any releases had reached IMHRO so far.

Arrests in Ahwaz started weeks before demonstration happened, cultural activist of Hani al dilemma was sentences to prison and exile in Mashhad in north of Iran, Sayed Bagher Alboshoka( atheletic), Jaber Alboshoka, Mokhtar Alboshoka( soldir in revolutionary guard) all from Khalafyeh arrested by security  services and taken away. Mohammad ali omori, amir amori, shahid abdulhasin shabani nijad amori(poet), hashem khalaf shabani nijad( teacher), aghil aghili ( student), hadi rashedi, hashem shaban and saed amoee,habib alah rashedi.

Arab Ahwaz lecture in politics Hussein Hashemian was banned by security services after he talked with western media regard of recent events in the Middle East.

A cleric called sheikh Heidari also arrested and charged of leading illegal pray in 2006. In that pray which led into protest, few people who took a part in demonstration had disappeared and later their bodies discovered in plastic bags on bank of Karon river.

Saied Saki, born in 1969,  a Ahwazi who was kidnaped by Syrian security service while he was in Syria as registered UNHCR refugee in 2005 and after spending a year in prison in Syria, the Syrian government handed him over to Iranian security service in 2006 and now he is sentenced to 10 year in prison, he reportedly tortured. Saied Moghamsi an Ahwazi cultural activist had killed under torture.

Internet and mobile phones has been cut for many hours. Electricity and water was cut in some areas.

Reporters without Borders stated that “Ali Badri (of the blog Shataljarhi), Ali Torofi (of the blog Karoniat), and the poets Hamin Hairi and Shahid Amori, who contribute to various media. Several intellectuals and human rights activists in Iran have condemned the violence”

Ali Badri is a cultural activist from town of Khlafyeh. He was arrested at his work place by security services. He is married and has a one child.

Government tried to force Ahwazi Arab population to take apart in protest in supporting Shia protestors in Bahrain, but people refused and government ended up bringing people from outside to use for protest.

Nature of unrests in al Ahwaz: Shia or Sunni

In recent years Ahwazi Arabs who their number is at least 10 million, have a much deeper national movement to gain their independent again, Reza shah in 1925 occupied Ahwaz, in 1943 allied forces deposed Reza shah for his Nazi links with Nazi Germany. Iranian government since then tried it’s best to destroy Ahwazi Arabs identity, till now officially Ahwazi Arabs are not exist in any quotation regard of ethnic groups in Iran and by Iranian intellectuals even in the west they called Arab- speakers! Denying their identity and suppression of their culture made this national movement very deep in Ahwaz societies. Ahwaz has huge oil and gas reserves, but Ahwazi people are banned from work in oil industry.

Nature of protests in Ahwaz is nationalistic, some claims to Watertown to issue of protest for political issues in Ahwaz into clashes Shia and Sunni has no bases. IMHRO heard via mobile phone call, the slogans of people on the streets during demonstration, people asked for independent for Ahwaz and end of occupation, freedom for Ahwaz and there was no mention of any Sunni or Shia references.

Western English Media coverage

Maida coverage by western English speaking media has been very poor, despite IMHRO and various other organisations attempt to western media there was no joy. Most of them have been not interested to following up the News.

Many Ahwazi who talked with IMHRO, talked about their disappointment and anger of converge of Ahwazi Arabs in the western Media. IMHRO understands that banned imposed by Iranian government for journalist to visit the area is original cause of this poor coverage. But IMHRO have to warn that ignoring suppression in is like Ahwaz is not helping to find a solution, extremist group would use as excuses. One activist from inside told IMHRO: “why the western English speaking media only report about Ahwaz when bomb is going off in Ahwaz and ignoring suppression of peaceful demonstrators? Is that means bombing campaign is more important than peaceful demonstration? Please tell our voice from inside of Ahwaz”

IMHRO urges journalist to not ignore the humanitarian situation in Ahwaz. We should all condemn the violence by supporting peaceful protests. It is unbelievable that western media closed their eyes on peaceful protest in Ahwaz.

Background
Ahwazi Arabs, who their numbers are more than 10 million people, they do not exist in official account.  Ahwazi Arabs are suffering from Persian occupation, since 1925. Ahwaz hold %15 of worlds proven oil resources and second gas reserve in the world. Iranian government deny existence of Arabs in south west of Iran and call the Arab speakers. Ahwazi Arabs are banned from using media, any political and cultural activities heavily suppressed by Iranian government. Iranian security services, the Vezarat Atelat, secretly killed many Ahwazi activist and intimidated families of activist who live in exile.  

A letter leaked from office Iranian president Khatami, showing secret plan for change of demography of area. And huge protest had followed. During 2005 uprising in Ahwaz for few days, Iranian government lost its control on city, but heavily shooting and massive arrest they maintained the control again.

Ahwazi Arabs land is polluted; toxic level had increased after suspicious petrochemical activities increased in the area. Lack of basic medical equipment in hospitals is obvious. Land confiscation is wide spread, ethnic Discrimination seen in all level of life.


Sunday, 24 April 2011

ai: IRAN ARAB MINORITY PROTEST DEATHS MUST BE INVESTIGATED









19 April 2011
The Iranian authorities must investigate clashes between security forces and protesters from the Ahwazi Arab minority that reportedly left at least three people dead and dozens injured in the south-western province of Khuzestan, Amnesty International said today.

Security forces reportedly fired live ammunition and used tear gas against protesters.

“This is yet another chilling attack on the right to protest. While denouncing governments in the region for repressing demonstrations, the Iranian authorities are acting in the same repressive manner, “said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme deputy director.

Amnesty International is calling for an independent and impartial investigation into the killings.

The crackdown came around a “Day of Rage” protest held on 15 April to mark the anniversary of demonstrations that took place in the regional capital Ahvaz in 2005, when local Ahwazi Arabs held rallies in protest at a letter they believed was written by an official which outlined a policy of “Persianization” of the area.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that well over 200 people were arrested in the run-up to the demonstration. Anyone detained solely for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly, or for peacefully expressing their views, must be released immediately and unconditionally," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Around 30 of the arrested people are said to be women, five of whom are reportedly pregnant.

Amnesty International has called for all those detained to be protected from torture or other ill-treatment and to be granted access to their families, lawyers and adequate medical treatment.

Confirming details of events in the Khuzestan area is exceedingly difficult, as security forces have maintained increasingly tight control over the flow of information in and out of the region since 2005.

According to local media reports, the dead protesters are Mohamed Murabi, 30, killed in Ahvaz on 16 April and Abd al-Rahman Ibn Qasem al-Badawi, 37, killed in the town of Hamidieh on 14 April. Another man, Basem Abiat, was said to have been killed in Hamidieh on 15 April. Amnesty International has not been able to confirm these independently.

Demonstrations took place over the Ahwazi Arab minority’s long-held grievances over institutionalized discrimination and denial of economic and cultural rights. 

There were reportedly protests in the Siahi, Malashieh and Kut Abdullah districts of Ahvaz city, as well as in the town of Hamidieh, north-west of Ahvaz.

There were also demonstrations in other cities such as Khorramshahr and Abadan, according to some reports. 

Iranian media has referred to demonstrations in Khuzestan as being in support of the Shi’a majority in Bahrain. Some Ahwazi Arab sources have claimed that the security forces brought in people from outside the province to demonstrate about Bahrain.

Iran’s Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission met on Sunday to discuss "recent events" in Khuzestan, without specifying any details.

“The Iranian authorities must recognize and address the grievances of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran, rather than trying to write their protests off as simply ‘pro-Bahraini’,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

The Ahwazi Arab minority is one of many minorities in Iran. Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the south-western province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq.

Most are Shi’a Muslims but some are reported to have converted to Sunni Islam, heightening government suspicion about Ahwazis, who complain that they are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing, political participation and cultural rights

In 2005, dozens were killed and scores, if not hundreds, arrested during and following the demonstrations.  The event sparked off a cycle of violence in the province, with fatal bomb attacks, followed by further arrests, unfair trials and at least 15 executions.

Friday, 22 April 2011

RWB: Authorities ban coverage of crackdown on Arab minority protests in Ahwaz







22 April 2011
Reporters Without Borders condemns the use of force by the Iranian authorities to contain demonstrations a week ago in the southwestern province of Khuzestan and their ban on news coverage of the bloody clashes that took place. Both the national and international media were prevented from covering the incidents. The crackdown has continued this week with several arrests of netizens and media contributors.

The Iranian government hypocritically defends freedom of information about the violence taking place in neighbouring countries such as Bahrain, where blood has been shed to crush anti-government demonstrations, but imposes a complete news blackout on the deadly clashes between members of the Arab minority and security forces in Khuzestan, cutting it off from the rest of the world and denying access to both independent and state media reporters.

Calls were issued on the Internet and online social networks for demonstrations on 15 April in the provincial capital of Ahvaz to mark the sixth anniversary of the violent clashes that took place on 15 April 2005 between the security forces and members of the Arab community, who are the majority in province.

Members of the security forces fired live rounds into a spontaneous demonstration by young people on 14 April, killing three demonstrators. When the protests continued the next day, they were brutally crushed by Revolutionary Guards in several districts of the city including Haisohari, Coy Alvaieh and Cot Abdollah.

Round-ups of activists had already begun before the calls for demonstrations had been issued, and the arrests are continuing. According to some sources, at least 97 people are being held in prisons in and around Ahvaz, including Sepidar and Zyton (a secret detention centre controlled by the intelligence ministry).

The detainees include Ali Badri (of the blog Shataljarhi), Ali Torofi (of the blog Karoniat), and the poets Hamin Hairi and Shahid Amori, who contribute to various media. Several intellectuals and human rights activists in Iran have condemned the violence.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate, wrote to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 18 April requesting her intervention. “We have no information about the fate of the prisoners,” she wrote. “The security forces have forced the families of the victims to remain silent.”

The violence of six years ago was triggered by reports of an Iranian government policy of forcibly relocating members of the Arab community to other provinces. A letter circulated on 15 April 2005, which had supposedly been written by a government official, talked of “moving Arabs from this very sensitive area and relocating them in other regions of the country.”

Although the government insisted the letter was forged, its publication prompted uprisings and deadly violence in several of the province’s cities that continued for two days. The Tehran bureau of the Qatari TV station Al-Jazeera, which had been giving the incidents a great deal of coverage, was closed by the Iranian authorities on 18 April 2005 for “inciting unrest.”

Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile learned that Manoucher Tamary, a journalist with the government news agency IRNA, was arrested on 17 April at his home in Sanandaj (in the western province of Kurdistan) by men in plainclothes, who searched his home and seized his computer. It is not known where they took him.

Aged 56, Tamary has worked for IRNA since 1994. IRNA reported that he had received a summons from the intelligence ministry a week before his arrest. The news agency’s management has called for his release.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Guardian: Iranian Sunni protesters killed in clashes with security forces



Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi writes to UN human rights commissioner over treatment of Sunni minority
  
Saeed Kamali Dehghan

At least 12 people who are believed to belong to Iran's Sunni minority have been killed in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in the south-western city of Ahwaz since Friday.

On Monday, Shirin Ebadi, Iran's Nobel peace prize laureate, wrote a letter to the UN high commissioner for human rights, in which she said "more than 12" Sunni protesters had been killed in Iran's oil-rich province of Khuzestan, home to many Arabic-speaking Sunni Iranians.

According to Ebadi, hundreds of people in Ahwaz had gathered for a peaceful demonstration against the Islamic regime's discrimination towards its Sunni minority.

"During these clashes, more than 12 people were killed, around 20 injured and tens of protesters have been arrested," Ebadi wrote in her letter.

She criticised Iran's treatment of the Sunnis and said: "In the 32 years' history of the Islamic Revolution, Arabic-speaking Iranians have suffered from inequality and an extensive discrimination."

Recent events in Ahwaz come at a time when Iran has publicly criticised Bahrain – a country in which the 70% Shia majority is ruled by minority Sunnis – for using extensive violence in suppressing its own people.
Iran has voiced support for the pro-democracy movements that have been sweeping across the Middle East, except in Syria, a strong ally of Tehran.

Iranian state media initially ignored the clashes in Ahwaz but Iran's semi-official FARS news agency reported later that one person had been killed and one other injured.

Speaking to the Guardian, a human rights organisation based in the UK said that it had received testimony from various people who participated in the Ahwaz protest, who told them at least 12 were killed when government forces opened fire at peaceful protesters.

Reza Vashahi, a spokesman for the Iranian Minorities' Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO) said: "Unfortunately, the fate of those protesters who have been arrested is unclear and we even don't know where they have been taken to."

The organisation identified one of the dead protesters but said that the fear of persecution has forced the families of the dead protesters to remain silent.

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, human rights organisations have documented Iran's violation of the human rights of its minorities, especially the Kurds and the Arabic-speaking Sunnis.

RFE/RL: Iran's Nobel Laureate Ebadi Warns Of Unrest Among Ethnic Arabs In Iran








 Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has warned the United Nations of the possible spread of unrest in Iran's Khuzestan Province, home to most of the country's ethnic Arab minority.

Ebadi sent a letter to UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay in which she describes a deadly crackdown by Iranian security forces last week on a peaceful protest in Khuzestan's capital, Ahvaz.

The April 15 protest, which some dubbed "Ahvaz Day of Rage," was aimed at protesting what participants say is discrimination and injustice against ethnic Arabs, who make up about 3 percent of Iran's population.

The event was reportedly planned with the help of social media sites, including Facebook, by political groups and young people both inside and outside the country who are said to have been inspired by popular uprisings in Arab countries.

Iranian officials have praised street demonstrations across the Arab world as an "Islamic awakening" but themselves have used force against Iranian protesters who have taken to the streets to demonstrate for democracy and human rights.

Deaths, Injuries, And Arrests

Force was also Iranian authorities' response to the April 15 protest in Ahvaz.

In her letter, Ebadi says that at least 12 people were killed in the clashes, 20 others were injured, and dozens were arrested.

Human rights activists told RFE/RL they have received reports that there were more than 150 arrests, including a number of intellectuals, artists, and women's rights activists. They said the province has been turned into "a military base" by security forces who have warned activists not to speak to the media.

Ebadi urges the UN to push for the unconditional release of those arrested in order to prevent widespread unrest in the province. She tells Pillay that ethnic Arabs in Khuzestan have been living in poor conditions and have endured discrimination for more than 30 years.

Long List Of Grievances

Yousef Azizi Banitorof, an ethnic Arab Iranian and the head of the U.K.-based Center for Combating Racism and Discrimination Against Arabs in Iran, told RFE/RL that protest organizers were demanding an end to racial, cultural, economic, and political discrimination.

"They also protested against [discrimination] in April 2005 when they took to the street to protest a letter allegedly signed by former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi," Banitorof said, referring to a letter that Abtahi described as being forged, which called for forcibly relocating the local Arab population and replacing it with Persians. "They were met with [force] and 15 people were killed. They now wanted to mark that day and also to call for their rights."

Banitorof said many people in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan live in extreme poverty. "They're sitting on a sea of oil but the oil money goes to the rulers in Tehran," he said, citing reports on the state-run news agencies Mehr and ISNA that say the poverty in the region is worse than in Africa.

A Hard Line


Banitorof also said he had heard reports that two people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces on April 14. Hamed Kanani, a member of London's Ahvaz Human Rights organization, told Radio Farda that several women and a 17-year-old were among the dead.

Kanani said that before the planned protests, authorities sent warnings via short text messages to people in Ahvaz telling them not to take to the streets.

Intelligence officials also summoned dozens of young people who were already under scrutiny for political activism.

"In Hamidieh, they took 161 young people to the Intelligence Ministry and made them sign a written statement that they won't take pictures, they won't participate in demonstration and also that they won't tell any news in interviews with media and TV channels based outside the country," Kanani said.

There has been very little coverage of the violence that took place in Ahvaz in Iranian state media. Ahmad Naseri, a police chief in Khuzestan, was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying that one person was killed and another injured in clashes in Shadegan region. He described the two as "armed rogues."

Fars reported that members of the parliament's foreign policy committee at an April 17 meeting discussed "recent events in Khuzestan." Fars did not provide details of the meeting.

Radio Farda broadcaster Roozbeh Bolhari contributed to this report

Al Arabiya: Arab-Iranian activist talks about Ahwaz unrest









By MOHAMED AL-ARAB
Al Arabiya

Despite the strict media blackout imposed on Arab-Iranians since the start of the protests on April 15, also called Day of Fury, AlArabiya.net managed to speak to a female activist from the heart of the conflict in Ahwaz.

A female Arab-Iranian activist who calls herself “Ebnat al-Ahwaz,” Arabic for “Daughter of Ahwaz,” spoke to Al Arabiya.net from the city of Ahwaz, the capital of the predominantly-Arab province of Khuzestan, previously called Arabstan.

“The province is going through a very tough time,” she said in an interview with AlArabiya.net in which she appeared masked for fear of retaliation by the Iranian authorities. “Iranian security forces are imposing a strict siege on us and are using militiamen dressed in civilian clothes and they disperse demonstrations by force.”

She added that the paramilitary Basij forces are also playing a major role in suppressing the revolts that started on April 15 in commemoration of Bloody Friday, when more than 20 Arab-Iranians were killed, 500 injured, and 250 arrested on April 15, 2005 during protests in the city of Ahwaz.

The humanitarian situation in Ahwaz, she explained, is deplorable with food and water running out, and stores closed.

Daughter of Ahwaz confirmed reports issued by the April 15 Youth Movement that 15 Ahwazis were killed since the beginning of the protests and added that the number of protestors arrested is still unknown.

“Iranian authorities carry out their arrests in a random manner and they might have reached thousands.”

The activist denied that there is any media coverage in Ahwaz and stressed that protestors rely on taking videos and photos with their mobile phones and posting them on the internet to make what is happening in the city known to the whole world.

“We want people to know that all Ahwazis from all cities and villages in the province took to the streets in the Ahwazi Day of Fury.”

Daughter of Ahwaz called upon the Arab world to interfere and protect them from the brutal suppression of their protests by the Iranian government.

Despite covering her face for protection, Daughter of Ahwaz risked her life when she appeared in the interview with the Ahwazi flag in the background, a crime that can be punishable by death in Iran.

Ahwazi: Peaceful Demonstrators Fired Upon by Revolutionary Guards








April 18, 2011

Ahwazi arabs demanding their rights in a demonstration on April 15, 2011, were met by open fire from Revolutionary Guards, leaving dozens injured and at least one dead, and many now fear being detained by security forces. 

Below is an article published by Al Arabiya News:
At least one person was killed and dozens were injured in a second day of clashes between Iranian security forces and Arab residents of Ahwaz, a city in the country's Khuzestan province.

Thirty-year-old Mohammed Maarabi was killed in the violent clashes early on Saturday [April 16, 2011], witnesses told Al Arabiya. Ahwaz youth residents had declared Friday [April 15, 2011] a “Day of Rage” to demand the rights of the ethnic Arab majority in the Khuzestan province.

Witnesses said dozens of wounded protesters were taken to their homes in fear they could be detained in hospitals.

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organization (IMHRO) said in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya that the government has deployed agents in public squares and in the streets. Basij militia forces and revolutionary guards were positioned in various part of the Ahwaz city, IMHRO added.

The organization quoted Jamal Ahmad, a protester, as saying that government forces have killed at least 10 people since Friday [April 15, 2011].

“We came out peacefully and they soon started to shoot at us. I saw people falling down next to me,” Mr. Ahmad said.

The demonstration, which was organized via the social networking Websites Facebook and Twitter spread to cities of Hamidieh, Mahshahr, Shdegan, Abadan, and Khoramshahr, according to the organization.

Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights Defense has called upon the international community to interfere and put an end to what it termed “massacres in Ahwaz.” The group demanded in a statement that Iranian government ensures the “safe” treatment in hospitals of the wounded protesters.

The group also said that authorities have intermittently cut off electricity and water from residents of Ahwaz city.

Iranian securities have launched an arrest campaign in the province against those suspected of mobilizing people for the protests.

The “Day of Rage” was called by opposition movements to mark the anniversary of what was termed the “April 15 Apprising” of 2005.

The uprising was prompted by a leaked secret government strategy to try to change the demographic chart of Ahwaz and make ethnic Arab residents a minority.

Currently there are no official figures on the percentage of Arabs and Persians in the Khuzestan province, but it is widely known that Arabs constitute the majority. Iran’s population is 78 million.

While some ethnic Arab groups have called for a “revolution” to demand the independence of the region, several moderate opposition groups have called for rights they said are shared with other ethnic groups, such as the Balooch, the Kurds and the Turkmen.

Ahwaz holds 15 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and has the second gas reserve in the world. Ahwazi Arabs are banned from using media, any political and cultural activities heavily suppressed by Iranian government.

Iranian security services, the Vezarat Atelat, secretly killed many Ahwazi activist and intimidated families of activist who live in exile.

Al Arabiya: Fifteen dead in Iran’s Ahwaz








By AMMAR BENAZIZ and ABEER TAYEL
Al Arabiya

Fifteen people have been killed in Ahwaz, a city in Iran's Khuzestan province, sources close to Al Arabiya said on Monday.

One source said that Iranian security forces backed by militias dressed in civilian clothes broke up demonstrations by force.

The media office for the group “Youth of April 15” said in its pages on the social-media networks Facebook and Twitter that 15 people from Ahwaz have been killed and dozens have been wounded since demonstrations began last Friday. Friday had been declared as a “Day of Rage” to demand rights for the ethnic Arab majority in Iran’s Khuzestan province.
“The humanitarian situation is very bad,” and there were reports of a lack of the food and water, the group said.

There were also reports that foreigners had been banned from traveling to Ahwaz, which is currently under a blockade imposed by Tehran, Al Arabiya sources said.

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organization (IMHRO) had said in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya on Saturday that the government deployed agents in public squares and in the streets. Basij militia forces and revolutionary guards were positioned in various parts of Ahwaz city, IMHRO added.

The demonstrations, which were organized via Facebook and Twitter spread to the cities of Hamidieh, Mahshahr, Shdegan, Abadan, and Khoramshahr, according to the organization.

Ahwazi Center for Human Rights Defense has called on the international community to intervene and put an end to what it termed “massacres in Ahwaz.” The group demanded in a statement that the Iranian government ensures the “safe” treatment in hospitals of the wounded protesters.

Currently there are no reliable figures on the percentage of Arabs and Persians in the Khuzestan province, but it is widely known that Arabs constitute the majority. Iran’s total population is 78 million.

While some ethnic Arab groups have called for a “revolution” to demand the independence of the region, several moderate opposition groups have called for rights they said are shared with other ethnic groups, such as the Balooch, the Kurds and the Turks.

Ahwaz contains large quantities of the world’s proven oil reserves and also of liquid natural gas reserves. According to the publication Oil & Gas Journal, proven crude oil reserves were 1.3 trillion barrels as of January 2009.

Proven reserves of natural gas were 6.3 trillion cubic feet. Proven reserves are estimated quantities that analysis of geologic and engineering data demonstrates with reasonable certainty can be recovered under existing economic and operating condition.

Ahwazi Arabs are banned from using media or from participating in political or cultural activities. The Iranian government, according to rights groups, heavily suppresses them.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Al Jazeera: Reports of violence in Ahvaz









There are reports of violence in the western city of Ahvaz in Iran's Khuzestan province, where according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, 15 people have been killed and dozens have been injured and detained.


Al-Arabiya TV also has a brief report.


Friday's crackdowns by Iranian security forces came during a protest (dubbed the "Ahvaz Day of Rage") meant to mark incidents that took place in Ahvaz in 2005, when the ethnic Arab population staged rallies against the Iranian government over what they said were systematic injustices and discrimination.


On the April 15, 2005 protest, 360 people were reported to have been arrested. On June 12 of the same year, a series of bombs exploded in the Ministry of Housing, in front of the governor's house and in the Office of Civil Engineering in the provincial capital.


At the time, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported two deaths.


Following the attack, Al Jazeera reported on the long history of grievances held among the Arab Ahvazis:

Two weeks before Sunday's attacks, the director of the Ahvaz Education and Human Rights Foundation told the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights that Tehran needed to address basic issues.
Khalid Abdian alleged that the government continues ethnic restructuring, confiscation of Arab land and forced displacement of Ahvazi.
"We are being perceived as disloyal, suspicious and a security risk - who some day may reclaim the oil-rich land of Khuzestan," he said.
"The policy of the Islamic republic, like its predecessor, is directed at the eradication of the national identity and forceful assimilation of Ahwazi Arabs, and to a lesser degree, other nationalities such as the Turks, Kurds, Baluchis and Turkmen.

A series of four more attacks hit Ahvaz between 2005 and 2006, when Iranian officials arrested nine men, all of whom were shown confessing to having ties to groups outside Iran that wanted to cause instability within the country. At least four of those men were hanged in 2006.

The government in the past has accused the protests and attacks as being perpetrated by "Arab separatists".

Al Arabiya: One dead in Ahwaz clash









By MUSTAPHA AJBAILI


At least one person was killed and dozens were injured in a second day of clashes between Iranian security forces and Arab residents of Ahwaz, a city in the country's Khuzestan province.

Thirty-year-old Mohammed Maarabi was killed in the violent clashes early on Saturday, witnesses told Al Arabiya. Ahwaz youth residents had declared Friday a “Day of Rage” to demand the rights of the ethnic Arab majority in the Khuzestan province.
Witnesses said dozens of wounded protesters were taken to their homes in fear they could be detained in hospitals.

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organization (IMHRO) said in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya that the government has deployed agents in public squares and in the streets. Basij militia forces and revolutionary guards were positioned in various part of the Ahwaz city, IMHRO added.

The organization quoted Jamal Ahmad, a protester, as saying that government forces have killed at least 10 people since Friday.

“We came out peacefully and they soon started to shoot at us. I saw people falling down next to me,” Mr. Ahmad said.

The demonstration, which was organized via the social networking Websites Facebook and Twitter spread to cities of Hamidieh, Mahshahr, Shdegan, Abadan, and Khoramshahr, according to the organization.

Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights Defense has called upon the international community to interfere and put an end to what it termed “massacres in Ahwaz.” The group demanded in a statement that Iranian government ensures the “safe” treatment in hospitals of the wounded protesters.

The group also said that authorities have intermittently cut off electricity and water from residents of Ahwaz city.

Iranian securities have launched an arrest campaign in the province against those suspected of mobilizing people for the protests.

The “Day of Rage” was called by opposition movements to mark the anniversary of what was termed the “April 15 Apprising” of 2005.

The uprising was prompted by a leaked secret government strategy to try to change the demographic chart of Ahwaz and make ethnic Arab residents a minority.

Currently there are no official figures on the percentage of Arabs and Persians in the Khuzestan province, but it is widely known that Arabs constitute the majority. Iran’s population is 78 million.

While some ethnic Arab groups have called for a “revolution” to demand the independence of the region, several moderate opposition groups have called for rights they said are shared with other ethnic groups, such as the Balooch, the Kurds and the Turkmen.

Ahwaz holds 15 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and has the second gas reserve in the world. Ahwazi Arabs are banned from using media, any political and cultural activities heavily suppressed by Iranian government.

Iranian security services, the Vezarat Atelat, secretly killed many Ahwazi activist and intimidated families of activist who live in exile.