International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances in Iran (ICARDI)
It is an international coalition base in London/ United Kingdom consisting of number of organizations and lawyers to address the issue of enforced disappearance in Iran. Board of Directors consists of seven members، Dr. Karim Abdian / General Adviser, Ms. Mona Silawi / president, Mr. Faisal Fulad/ General Coordinator
London, MEFD – On Saturday 21st May 2016, Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) and Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization organised an international workshop on media and civil society in the Middle East at Cambridge House, London. The workshop was attended by Middle East Forum for Development (MEFD).
The event was moderated by Dr Sanjukta Ghosh, British Ahwazi Friendship Society and attended by Dr Karim Abdian, executive director of AHRO, Mosa Zahed, Executive Director of MEFD, Dr Wafik Mustafa, Chair of the British Arab Network and author of “Egypt, the elusive Arab Spring”, Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International, Dr Nour Abu Assab, Director of the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration (CTDC) and Mehmet Aksoy, Editor-In-Chief at kurdishquestion.com. The panellists focused on media-related evidence of freedom of speech and human rights activism in the Middle East at the heart of international policy and advocacy practices. Moreover, special emphasis was placed on discussing the obstacles for journalists and civil society activists to share news and ideas on human rights in general.
“The experience from the Arab spring is that dictators, and big ones, were overthrown, not by Bolshevik-type parties but by young people utilising social media in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya and so on” said Dr Abdian.
Mosa Zahed specified that human rights activists in Iran used social media during the 2009 social protests for grassroots mobilisation and crowd reporting due to a regime of censorship. Zahed argued that “Modern day technology enabled human rights activists to expose, through detailed testimonies, torture and sexual harassment of men and women who were arrested during the 2009 protests and detained at the Kahrizak detention centre in Southern Tehran”. He emphasised that “As the Iranian authorities got away with the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in the space of a few months during the summer of 1988 without sparking global outrage or condemnation, Ali Khamenei was in 2009 confronted with a bitter reality, namely that getting away with atrocities would not be as easy in this digital era compared to previous decades”.
Dr Wafik Mustafa elaborated on the developments following the Arab Spring, with a particular focus on Egypt subsequent to the fall of the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mustafa noted the need for caution in relation to the use of social media in human rights activism, as he believes that it is not always easy to verify reports circulated via this medium.
Mark Lattimer discussed the United Nations (U.N.) human rights mechanisms and explained its purposes in aiming to assist human rights activists in their future activities, within the U.N. framework.
Dr Nour Abu Assab argued that the U.N. often fails to address gross human rights violations despite well documented cases of atrocities, like the ones in Syria perpetrated by government forces. “One has to look to who is funding the United Nations in order to understand such phenomena”, Dr Assab added.
Mehmet Aksoy underscored the significance of social media in reporting human rights issues that mainstream media do not or cannot cover due to censorship by repressive states. Aksoy emphasised that his online news outlet which reports about Kurdish affairs and Kurdish movements in the Middle East, has acquired global significance enabling it to effectively convey issues relating to the Kurdish question.
The international workshop was attended by dozens of individuals and delegates, including representatives from Iran’s Azeri, Kurdish and Baloch communities.
During the demonstration against diversion of Karoon river, Iranian security forces arrested two activists in Muhammerah , the journalist Rahil Mosavi and environmental activist Roqaya Jafari who have participated in the demonstrations against the transfer of Karoon river . They have been transferred to the department of intelligence in the city and have not been released till now . The demonstrations were held in both Ahwaz and Muhammerah . According to the reports received by AHRO from inside Ahwaz ,Roqaya Jafari was arrested in her home by intelligence forces after the end of the demonstration last Thursday. Despite the pressures she faced from the intelligence department and the municipality concerning criticising Rohani’s letter about the water transfer ,she participated in the action which resulted in forming a security file on Ms.Jafari and her arrest for 4 consecutive days by the intelligence services . Ms.Rahil Mosavi on the other hand is a photographer and journalist and civil activist who was verbally insulted and pushed by the security forces who were present as she took photos of demonstration in Muhammerah .Her left arm was injured as security tried to take her camera and eventually she was pushed into their car by force and driven away . Demonstrators in Ahwaz and Muhammerah criticised the leaked letter from Rouhani’s administration in which an order is given to transfer Karoon river to cities such as Yazd,Isfahan Kerman and Rafsanjan while the inhabitants of Ahwaz and Muhammerah and many other cities in the southwest region suffer from lack of water for drinking and agriculture . In the same context ,Iranian intelligence also called on many local civil and environmental activists for interrogation for organising and inviting people to demonstrate ,Mr.Masoud Kanani is one of these environmental activists who has been accused of carrying foreign agendas ,this is done in order to intimidate and silence the public. Ahwaz human Rights Organisation condemns these arrests and calls for immediate release of the two activists and also condemns oppressing the peaceful civil actions and calls on human rights organisations to pressure Iran to uphold this water transfer project which is death sentence to the ecosystem of southwest region and invites the human rights defenders to speak up against the assaults of Iranian government and its security forces against the civilians.
According to AHRO’s primary statistics 12 days into the peaceful demonstrations in Ahwaz, 250 Ahwazi Arabs have been detained for participating in peaceful demonstrations. Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation strongly condemns the crackdown of demonstrations and the arrests of hundreds of Arab citizens in Iran and expresses their deepest concerns for the safety and well-being of the detainees. Previous experiences have confirmed that the Security service and Intelligence treat detainees with outmost brutality in addition to inflicting physical and mental torture, severely abusing their human rights. Unfortunately, the Iranian government has chosen once again to take the path of violence and suppression in order to confront the masses and during the past 2 weeks, Ahwaz has turned to a military barracks and collective and arbitrary arrests have been taking place, constantly ,for days.
The following video has been sent to AHRO by a citizen journalist and shows a young Arab male in Kut-Abdallah being violently forced into a police car by dozens of policemen and government agents disguised in civilian clothing.
The following is the list of detainees among which are women and minors:
4-Mohammad Jalil Kanoon
6-Mansoor Tamimi (Sayyahi area)
7- Khalid Mahawy (Akhar- Asphalt area)
8-Mahmood Beit Sayyah (Akhar- Asphalt area))
9-Khadija Neissi (Shuaybieh area)
10-Aysha Neissi (19 years old -Shuaybieh area)
11-Wisam Sawari (19 years old- Sepidar area)
12- Ali Khasraji (23 years old - arrested in Ahwaz along with 4 of his friends on March 30th )
13- Shahab Na’ami ( Khaledieh area “Kianpars”)
14- Hasan Kenani ( Khaledieh area “Kianpars”)
Detainees of 31st March 2018 in Ma’ashur “Mahshahr”
20- Mohammad Alboghobeish
23-Hamid Alboghobeish (Zubeidi)
24- Reza Alboghobeish
25- Mehdi Alboghobeish
Detainees of 1st April 2018 in Kut-Abdallah-Ahwaz
26-Sajjad Jamei’i (25 years old)
27- Mohammad Fatlawi (27 years old)
Detainees of Abadan in Selech area:
29- Ali Baghlani
Detainees of April 1st 2018 - Thawra area of Ahwaz
30- Adnan Bayanan Sakini (37 yeas old)
31- Jom’a Sawari (32 yeas old)
32- Suri Saalebi (Sawari)- (47 years old)
33-Kazem Turfi (40 years old)
34- Nader Alboghubeish arrested in Taleghani area of Ahwaz on April 6th 2018
Detainees of march 31st 2018 in Hamidieh
35-Ali Abidawi bin Taleb
36- Ali Abidawi bin Warwar
Detainees in Ahwaz city
37- Sajjad Sawari bin Ziab (32 years old, married from Thawra area arrested on April 5th )
38- Sadeq Sawari (from Thawra area arrested on April 2end 2018)
39- Basem Sawari (from Thawra area arrested on April 2end 2018)
40- Abdul-al Doraqi ( from Cantex area- 50 year old poet , arrested on April 5th 2018 ,severely tortured )
41-Majed Zuheiri Bin Karim ( Thawra area)
42-Saeed Sawari ( Arrested on April 3rd 2018 )
43-Khaledieh Turfi Bint Hamid Al-Asi ( from Camp - Polonia “camppolo” area arrested on April 4th 2018)
44- Ali Ebeyyat Bin Semij
45-Mustafa Sawari ( from Thawra area arrested on April 5th 2018)
46- Naeem Hamidi ( Journalist)
Demonstrations started as protest against Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) following a program in which Arab’s existence in Iran and their identity was ignored, once again. Demonstrators demanded an apology and until now neither IRIB nor channel 2 producers issued an apology.
Demonstrations over the insulting TV show has turned to full scale manifestations on a daily basis against all forms of racism and marginalisation against ethnic Arabs of Iran. Protesters expressed their disapproval of Tehran’s plans of demographic change that has been in work for years through influx of immigrants from other areas and excluding indigenous Arab population from the job market in Iran’s richest areas.
The following are among the demands of Ahwazi Arabs: an end to unemployment and exclusion from social, political and economic life, end to transfer of Karun river, stop the destruction of environment and change the security approach of Tehran toward Ahwaz which has turned this region to a military barracks and the release of all political and cultural activists who are currently in detention.
Demonstrators also demand the right to establish independent newspapers and news agencies in Arabic, improvement of living conditions in this region and to allocate part of the oil’s revenue to the reconstruction and development of the region and the fight against poverty and marginalisation.
The Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation affirms the right of Ahwazi Arabs to continue their peaceful demonstration and calls for an end to the repression of these legitimate protests, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees.
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization condemns the arrest of Ahwazi Arabs who have been peacefully demonstrating against racism and discrimination for the past week in different cities of Ahwaz / Arabistan.
By April 2, 2018, a week had passed since peaceful Ahwaz uprising against racism, marginalisation and continued persecution and discrimination exercised by Iranian government and its media, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) . The Iranian authorities responded to the demands of masses by sending anti-riot forces and have turned Ahwaz to a military barrack.
In recent days, military reinforcements have been dispatched from Lorestan province (North of Ahwaz) and neighbouring provinces. Internal security units and riot police were seen heading towards the area as protests continued in various cities of Ahwaz where rallies continued to the night and people protested against the authorities' practices and demanded the release of political prisoners.
According to the reports of the Ahwazi human rights organization, raids were carried out in various cities and about 100 Arab citizens, including women and girls, were arrested on charges of participating in peaceful protests. The names will be published as soon as they are confirmed.
The protests started after Arabs were insulted on national television. On the second day of the Newruz, on March 23, Channel 2 broadcasted a children’s show with a national music “Ey Iran” in the background to show Iran's ethnic diversity, but the Ahwazi Arabs were not on the map, and instead a Luri male and female doll was placed on Ahwaz’s map.
Ahwazi Arabs who have been witnessing government’s efforts for demographic change for years through forced migration of marsh Arabs out of marshlands following oil projects, and influx of immigrants from central areas of Iran to Ahwaz for job opportunities in heavily industrialised and polluted Arab cities in short felt threaten as each day they become more of a minority in their own homeland.
Arab activists initially launched an online campaign on websites, and applications such as Telegram and Instagram to demand an apology from the Arab Ahwazi people by radio and television officials but there was no response. The Ahwaz deputies in the Iranian parliament and the council of experts, including Ayatollah Abbas Ka’abi, also called on government agencies to apologise, but none of the government officials took the responsibility.
For these reasons and other evidence such as the accumulation of problems and water and air pollution crises and the continuation of plans to eliminate the Arab people of Ahwaz, people been taking the streets for the past week .
The first protests began with a gathering of thousands of Arab citizens in the city of Ahwaz, on Wednesday morning March 28, 2018, in front of IRIB building( Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) in Ahwaz demanding an apology.
In the following days, the protests spread to other cities such as Abadan, Muhammerah, Ma’ashour, Falahiya, Khawain, Koura, Shaiban, Al Ain, Qal'at Kanaan, Kut Abdullah, and other regions to denounce the anti-Arab wave of racism in Ahwaz particularly and in Iran generally.
In several rallies Iranian security forces backed by units of riot police and the Revolutionary Guard Corps , attacked the demonstrations, threw teargas and beat demonstrators to disperse them.
Demonstrations continued until the early hours of Sunday, amid reports that Farhani Street was closed and cordoned off by security forces, police and riot police and the arrest of a large number of unknown youths.
Security forces have launched raids in various cities and the number of detainees has so far reached more than 100.
On the sixth day of protests, in a video recorded by a citizen journalist we see a security force taking off an Arab man’s #Kufieh and #Agal from his head at a checkpoint. Other shapes of racism has been witnessed in different cities. Ahwazi Arabs who have been wearing their traditional clothes in the street as a sign of protest say they feel threatened when they go out wearing #Dishdasheh these days.
The Ahwazi Human Rights Organization condemns these practices and this repressive behaviour and demands that the Iranian authorities respect the right of the people for a peaceful assembly to express their demands in accordance with the laws and international treaties and most importantly calls for the release of all detainees.
AHRO calls upon United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and all other human rights organisations to report on the matter and pressure Iranian government to stop its destruction of indigenous marsh Arabs lands and source of income in Iran and put an end to systematic discrimination and racism practiced by the Iranian government and its media IRIB.