Iranian security forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) committed massacres that qualify as crimes against humanity by carrying field executions against Ahwazi protesters during the anti-government protests that spread across Iran last week, local sources have informed the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO).

The massacres occurred when some areas in the province of Khuzestan fell under the protesters’ control, according to the sources. Arab protesters took control of several towns and regions in the province from Saturday, November 16, until Friday, November 22, when the protesters were suppressed, say the sources. 

Activists told AHRO that the special security forces used excessive force during the raid on the gatherings. The special security forces also used helicopters to send in forces to arrest protesters, particularly in the cities of Mahshahr (Ma’shour) and Shadegan (Falahiyya). 

Security forces also besieged a group of young protesters from Shadegan (Falahiyya) who had escaped to the marshes in the vicinity of the city and executed about 20 of them there by shooting them. 

The executions took place in retaliation for the killing of two Iranian security forces and the wounding of the city's IRGC commander during clashes with protesters, say activists. 

Even more people were killed in Mahshahr (Ma’shour), where 24 protesters were killed in violent clashes with security forces and the Basij militia. 

The protesters were attacked after youths responded to heavy gunfire by security forces. Initially 12 protesters were killed. Then hit-and-run operations followed during which special forces captain Reza Sayyadi was killed. 

More protesters were killed when some protesters blocked the roads leading to petrochemical facilities - currently Iran's sole source of non-oil exports - as a protest against the petrochemicals company's discrimination against locals. This company systematically brings in directors, officials, contractors and workers from the rest of Iran rather than recruiting locals, denying locals employment.

Moreover, the petrochemicals company has also polluted the area, which has led to the spread of diseases and epidemics for decades.

The naval force of the IRGC based in the port of Mahshahr (Ma’shour) overlooking the Gulf, as well as the seventh brigade of the armoured force which used tanks to besiege the city, took part in the raids and shootings.

Eyewitnesses confirmed to AHRO that the protesters in the city of Ahwaz (the capital of Khuzestan province) responded to the violence practiced by the security forces during the first and second night of the protests with sit-ins, but the security forces and the IRGC started shooting and throwing tear gas at protesters and carried out indiscriminate arrests on them and beat them with sticks and batons, including women and even children.

In response to the excessive use of force by the authorities, some protesters staged sit-ins in specific areas and blocked the roads for the regime’s forces.

The protesters threw stones and closed the streets by burning tires and garbage containers and were able to take control of some areas including Kut Abdullah, Zawiyya, Zirgan, Malashiyah, al-Daera, Mandali and Shiban, according to activists. 

The majority of local people sympathised with the protesters and opened their homes to them and provided them with food, medicine and basic needs. Many of them joined the protesters who were chanting against the Islamic Republic and for the release of political prisoners. Some of the chants also demanded the right of self-determination.

Ahwazi activists stressed that the burning of banks and citizens’ vehicles were carried out by the Basij militias in order to throw accusations against the peaceful protesters and justify their repression. 

More than 1,000 people, including women and children were arrested, say activists, while stressing that the real figure is much higher than that as security forces and the IRGC have been using drones to monitor and identify protesters before carrying out raids and arrests.

The special security forces continue to spread fear and panic among citizens through their daily parade on motorcycles, especially in neighbourhoods where clashes have occurred.

AHRO will publish the lists of victims including the killed and arrested and all the types of human rights violations that were committed during the recent protests by the Iranian security and military forces, the IRGC, and the Basij militia. 

AHRO, while condemning the field executions of Ahwazi protesters which qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity, calls on international human rights organizations to condemn the Iranian regime and take a stance that is proportional to the atrocities committed by this regime. 

AHRO also calls on the international community and the Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding committee and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.


Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO)

27 Nov 2019