(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.