Human Rights Review

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16 Nov 2018

AHWAZ from August 2018 to the present time

The Iranian authorities have severely suppressed the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as freedom of religion and belief, and imprisoned dozens of people who have expressed their opposition to the policy of the Iranian regime. Iranian trials against Ahwazi were systematically unfair. Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread and committed with impunity. Discrimination, persecution and violence based on gender, political opinion, religious belief and race carried out by the Iranian regime. Dozens of people, some of them in public, were executed and hundreds remained on death row. Farmers’ lands were also confiscated and the Iranian regime continued with the policy of drying agricultural lands and the Ahwazi Rivers.

Ahwazi Arabs remained subject to entrenched discrimination, curtailing their access to education, employment, adequate housing, and political office. The Iranian regime also continued its policy of economic neglect, such as poverty and marginalisation in Ahwaz. Residents of several villages reported a lack of access to water, schools, health centers and sanitation facilities. The region maintained high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Considerable numbers of Ahwazi Arabs who spoke out against violations of their rights faced arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, extremely unfair trials, imprisonment and the death penalty. Intelligence and security services frequently accused Ahwazi activists of supporting “separatist currents” that threaten Iran’s territorial integrity, particularly since 22nd September, following the Ahwaz attack, the pressure against Ahwazi has completely increased.

Ahwazi Arabs also suffer from pollution, environmental damage and rivers dry. Although Ahwaz has huge water resources, (about 33% of Iran’s total), the region is suffering from a serious water crisis, which affected agriculture and environment.

The Ahwazi farmers protested in Shosh (Susa), Khalafia, Ramez and al-Mohammerah in October 2018 because there is not enough water for agriculture, but Iranian authorities threatened farmers with arrest if they do not stop protesting. However, some news reported that five farmers were arrested in Khalafia, and were freed a week later.

Background

On 2 November 2018, Amnesty International condemned the policy of arbitrary arrests in Ahwaz, which included the arrest of more than 600 Ahwazi activists, including five women. Amnesty International said that arbitrary detention in Ahwaz is similar to enforced disappearance, and demanded the release of all Ahwazi from Iranian prisons. (full name will be added in Arabic report)

“The scale of arrests in recent weeks is worrying,” said Philippe Luther, director of international research and advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. He also added that “the timing indicates that the Iranian authorities are arresting a large number of Ahwazi under the pretext of the recent attack against Iranian forces in Ahwaz”. Luther said the Iranian authorities have arrested a large number of civilian and political activists in Ahwaz, in order to intimidate and crush dissent in Ahwaz.

Iranian authorities have also moved outside the border to target political activists in European countries, so the Danish authorities arrested an Iranian cell that tried to assassinate three Ahwazi activists in Denmark.

Freedoms of expression, association and assembly

The Iranian authorities continued to crack down after 22nd September against activists demanding freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly activists. Hundreds of Ahwazi activists, social-media activists, students and writers, as well as human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, were arrested on charges of endangering Iranian national security.

The Ahwazi human rights organisations said in a statement: The campaign of unprecedented raids resulted in the arrest of 800 people, including female and men and elderly people, as well as young people and civil society activists. Ahwazi organisations said they have obtained the name of more than 194 detainees in Ahwaz.

On November 10, 2018, Iranian security forces repressed the peaceful demonstration of cane sugar workers in Shush (Susa) city and arrested six labours. In addition, dozens of residents of Hay Darwishiya in the western part of the city of Ahwaz protested against the tragic situation in the area, such as pollution due to sewage networks and damage to the surface water on the health of the citizen, but were suppressed by the security forces, where four people were arrested.

Human Rights reporters informed that the labours of the steel company in Ahwaz demonstrated in front of the Governor’s office because the salaries were not paid for four months, which caused the security forces to threaten the protestors and arrested a demonstrator.

Iranian security forces have built dozens of security checkpoints in Al-Thawra neighborhood in Al-Ahwaz on 3rd November, where the movement of the citizen has been determined, and dozens of passers-by were arrested.

Human rights sources from Ahwaz said that Iranian security forces arrested dozens of people in Hafar area in the city of al-Muhammara in Ahwaz on November 7, for their protest against Iranian policies in the city.

On the night of November 8, 2018, the cultural activist Yousef Sawari, son of Mahdi, 29 year of age, was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence service in the city of Khafajiya. Local sources say the Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked the house of Mahdi Sawari and beat Yusuf Sawari, Mahdi’s 76-year-old father, and his mother Nasima Suari, 65 years of age.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment remained common, especially during interrogations. Detainees held by the Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards are routinely subjected to prolonged solitary confinement with physical and psychological torture, with many detainees facing health problems in detentions.

The authorities continued to deprive political prisoners’ adequate medical care. In many cases, this was done as a deliberate punishment or to extract “confessions”, and amounted to torture.

Prisoners endured cruel and inhuman conditions of detention, including overcrowding, limited hot water, inadequate food, insufficient beds, poor ventilation and insect infestations.

The Iranian intelligence services assassinated the 23-year-old Ahwazi Arab, Mostapha Naeem Haidari, under torture in the area of Mashali in Ahwaz capital city in October 2018 on the public street. The human rights activists also announced that the detainee Ahwazi woman Sabha al-Hammadi pregnant in the seventh month suffer from health problems.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment

The judicial authorities in Ahwaz continued to impose and carry out, at times, publicly enforce cruel and inhuman punishments against Ahwazi detainees.

Iranian security forces and the Revolutionary Guards have attacked more than 600 families in Ahwaz and around 1,000 people have been arrested since September 22 on trumped-up charges, where 400 people have been released, but 600 are still being held by Iranian authorities in secret cells through coordination with the Revolutionary Courts.

Freedom of religion and belief

Freedom of religion and belief has been systematically violated, in law and in practice. The Iranian authorities continued to impose general laws of conduct inherent in the strict interpretation of Shi’a Islam on individuals of the Muslim Sunni in Ahwaz. Non-Shia Muslims are not allowed to build mosques or continue to worship in their religious way.

Iranian authorities have arrested of Ahwazi Sunni out of 1000 people since September 2018 on charges of extremism in religion, Wahhabism and Salafism. According to the Ahwaz reports, there are no precise details about the detainees and all of them are currently being held in the secret prisons of the Iranian security services.

Discrimination – women and girls

Women continued to be subjected to strong discrimination in law and practice, including in access to divorce, employment, equality in inheritance, political and cultural activity, and in family and criminal law.

Human rights sources in Ahwaz revealed that the Iranian regime is carrying out arbitrary arrests against Ahwazi female activists since September 2018. The sources added that the Iranian regime recently detained Amna Hattab al-Sari, 24 year-of-age, after her house was attacked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on November 7, 2018. The father of Miss. Amna, Mr. Hattab Shanan al-Sari, 57 years old, with his son Amin al-Sari, 22 year-of-age, were also arrested by the Iranian authorities after being summoned to the Revolutionary Guard headquarters in the city of Ahwaz on 6 November 2018.

The health condition of the female detainees are poorly recorded, including Sabha (Lamia) al-Hammadi, 21 years of age, a civil society activist who was arrested on 6 October at her home in Al-Khafajiyah, and Zudea Afrawi, 55 years of age, and Qaisiya Afrawi, 60 years of age, both from Al-Khafajiyah and were arrested on 22nd October 2018.

Death penalty

The authorities continued to execute hundreds of people after unfair trials. Some executions were conducted in public.

Human rights activists from Ahwaz said Iranian authorities had contacted some families and told them that 22 Ahwazi were executed on Sunday morning 11th November. Six names have been published but the news is already uncertain. There is no exact information on other 16 people.

Names:

Mr Mohammad Momeni (Silawi) with two his sons

Mr Nasar Mohammad Momeni (Silawi)

Mr Osama Mohammad Momeni (Silawi)

Mr Ahmad Aboud Haidari

Mr Hatam Sawari

Mr Ahmad Abdulali Sari

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