By Ahwaz Human Rights organisation (AHRO) - 11 March 2020
Iran is a country of diverse ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions, but minorities suffer from discrimination, marginalization and double oppression. The Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Baluchs, Turkmen, Azerbaijani Turks and others suffer discrimination in their political, economic and cultural rights. Also, the largest share of crackdowns by the Iranian authorities, especially in recent years, has been against these minorities. In the crackdown on last November's protests, the largest number of deaths were among the Ahwazi Arab minority, including five children. Following the nationwide anti-government protests during November 2019, around 2,500 Arab citizens have been arrested in various parts of the Ahwaz province, and about 170 Ahwazi protesters have been killed by security forces and the IRGC. Iran's Revolutionary Guards Troops carried out a massacre in the Mashur (Mahshar) area, based in southern Ahwaz (Khuzestan) resulting in the killing of 148 unarmed citizens during the protests in Jarrahi (Chamran city) and Koureh (Taleghani). Following the massacre, Iran sent its Special Security Forces and the Revolutionary Guards to storm the town of Jarrahi and other towns of Maashur, and used tanks, machine guns and heavy weaponry to siege and kill the Arab citizens in those areas.
Torturing Ahwazi Arab female political prisoners in Iranian prisons in order to extract forced confessions from them is yet to stop, local sources informed the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO). The imprisoned Ahwazi women were arrested arbitrarily and without any legal authorisation following an armed attack on an Iranian military parade in Ahwaz in September 2018. Iran used the attack as an excuse to cleanse the Arab region of Ahwaz from peaceful political and cultural activists by arresting them. Although Iranian authorities said at the time that they had arrested 22 people in connection with the attack, they did not stop there, and they continued making arrests a month after the attack in order to instil fear and suppress the peaceful Ahwazi movement.
Those prisoners women are: Zahra Hosseiny (Born on 1995 and has two girls)and 28-year-old and mother of a three-year-old Maryam Hamadi; 20-year-old Kholoud Sobhani; 48-year-old Masoumeh Saeedawi; 45-year-old Susan Saeedawi; 34-year-old and mother of a one-year-old Sakina Sgour; 37-year-old and mother of three children Zahra Shajarat; 19-year-old and mother of a seven-month-old Elaheh Darwishi; mother of three children Makkiya Neisi (Maryam Hamadi’s mother).
- In February 2020, municipality of Ahwaz is paying taxes on "working children". Along with this news, a video was posted showing the Ahwaz municipality marking and taxing working children and adolescents collecting garbage in the city.
- In January 2020 Ahwaz Human Rights organisation sources have reported that detainees in various areas of Ahwaz (Khuzestan province) continue to suffer the consequences of the protests that took place in November, 2019. After much investigation and questioning by Ahwazi-Arab human rights activists in the province, it was revealed that they had to make televised confessions and confessions during a program on the State TV.
On 6 January, Issa Damani, an Ahwazi civil and cultural activist, founder of a charity and an Arabic language teacher, was sentenced to five years in prison and four years in exile in northwestern Iran. Mr Damani was sentenced on a vague charge of "propaganda against the regime" which had no legal basis and could be regarded as playing a role in the systematic crackdown on Ahwazi Arab peace activists.
In December 2019, A 45-year-old Ahwazi citizen by the name of Qasem Wasmi Bawi committed suicide due to the torture he endured during his arrest by the Iranian authorities. He was arrested during the November 2019 anti-government protests in Ahwaz.
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization calls on international human rights bodies to condemn the massacre and emphasise the need for the international community and the Human Rights Council to take steps forward towards sending a truth commission and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and in addition to the release of all protest detainees.
Last but not least، we would like to draw your attention to the fact that prisoners in Ahwaz prisons, in particular political detainees, are at risk of contracting the Coronavirus that is sweeping the country, as the Iranian authorities are not taking adequate measures to protect them. Therefore, we join other human rights organizations and international bodies to demand the immediate release of all these prisoners, to prevent the spread of the epidemic among them.