AHRO Human Rights News June 2013
General Secretary of AHRO, Dr Karim Abdian, attended the twelfth session of "The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)" in New York City in May. Dr Abdian addressed issues such as the persecution and ethnic cleansing of indigenous Ahwazi Arabs in their home land by the Iranian regime.
The Forum allows all participating NGOs, the World Bank and civil organisations cooperation and support in order to establish a supportive network for Indigenous Peoples. It aims to help them provide their nations and their NGOs with the essential means to further human development and fight poverty and racial discrimination.
During the first week of the event by the Forum, international experts examined their reports on indigenous youth such as identity, challenges and hope (Articles 14 and 25 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (E/C.19/2013/3)). ehT Forum also discussed and analysed other issues such as health, education, culture, human rights and violence against of indigenous women and girls (Article 22(2)).
Dr Abdian gave an extensive and detailed report highlighting issues such as health, low levels of human development among indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, environmental crises, violence against women and girls and human rights violations by the Iranian regime. Abdian also drew attention to educational problems among indigenous Ahwazi Arab youth due to a lack of schooling in their mother tongue since they are forced by the Iranian regime to study with Persian language.
During the event Dr Abdian managed to register AHRO with the newly established Forum of the Indigenous Peoples, an historical achievement for the Ahwazi NGO that will bolster the support network with the Forum and other NGOs in order to raise the awareness on Ahwazi cause.
Dr Abdian had the opportunity to meet with many representatives and ambassadors of Western and Arab countries at the event and provided them with the most up-to-date news and human rights violations against indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. He had supplementary meetings with Egyptian, Iraqi and Palestinian ambassadors in which he called for political and media support for the Ahwazi cause.
Dr Abdian also met with Mr Jeffrey Trimble, the Deputy Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau which runs Voice of America, and Mrs Lynne Weil, Director of Communications and External Affairs at the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Concerns were raised about the power of the Persian lobby, namely the NIAC, National Iranian American Council which supports the Islamic Republic under the ruse of campaigning against the war on Iran. The Persian lobby attempted to underestimate and deny persecution and racism suffered by non-Persian nations. The lobby has also extensively working to prevent and close down the media coverage of the Free Iraqi Channel since the channel tried to present and show the truth on the news on human rights violations against non-Persian nations generally and indigenous Ahwazi Arabs in particular.
AHRO AT THE US CONGRESS
AHRO attended meetings on the Iranian dossier in the US Congress and participated and arranged meetings with the US Foreign Relation Committee, the representatives of the US Senates, and other foreign affairs officials. The US Administration is looking to broaden the sanctions regime on Iran in order to stop the nuclear enrichment and to prevent destabilizing security in the region, as stated by the US Secretary of the Foreign Political Affairs.
US Congressional leaders highlighted these options at two separate meetings in which the US Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman highlighted the challenges posed by Iran, such as its nuclear ambitions, its support for international terrorism and destabilising activities in the region and its human right violations on the Iranian nation: see http://www.state.gov/p/us/rm/2013/210260.htm
The Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S Cohen advocated more sanctions pressure and to counter the proposed threats by the Iranian nuclear weapons: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1969.aspx
In the discussions, Dr Karim Abdian called on the Committee to impose new sanctions on Tehran's ability to sell oil or gain gold or gain international currency in orders to stabilise the Iranian currency, the Rial.
Working alongside Dr Abdian were Dr Mohammad Hassan Hussein Bar, Baluchi representative, Habib Azar Sina, from Azari Turks, and Rahim Rashidi, a Kurdish representative. Together, they attended a meeting with US Senators. They agreed to boost the lobbying network with the US Congress in order to get further support on the application of sanctions against the Iranian regime. The representatives also discussed and highlighted recent human rights violations in their non-Persian nations.
Dr Abdian, who represented the non-Persian delegates, sent the following urgent report on 18th May to the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee in the US Congress, highlighting the human rights violations in the non-Persian provinces particularly in the Arab province of Ahwaz (Khuzestan): During the last month we witnessed arrest and execution campaign by the Iranian regime within Azaris Turks, Kurdish in Kurdistan and Arabs in Ahwaz (Khuzestan) and Baluchi in Baluchistan.
In Ahwaz province itself there have been more than 160 arrests among Ahwazi Arab political and cultural activists, and 8 activists had been executed in Bluchistan, and five more Ahwazi Arab activists and teachers, who funded the "Al-hewar" (dialogue) cultural establishment, to be executed in Khalafya (Ramshir) city of Ahwaz province. The arbitrary arrest and imposing security situation in the Ahwaz province and treating civilian's freedom continue and become worse in the province and other provinces of non-Persian ethnicities. As an Ahwazi Arab human rights activist and on behalf of my friends from other oppressed non-Persian nations in Iran we support the imposition of sanctions and additional restriction on the Iranian regime, which has been discussed during the last week meetings by the Senates, representative and the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress. These sanctions could be achieved by stop the export of 1.5 million barrels/day of oil depriving the regime from money and resources to build its nuclear weapons. And repression and oppression of movements for freedom, rights and democracy in provinces like Ahwaz (Arabistan), Kurdistan, Balochistan and Azarbijan and other areas in Iran. It is the best time to stop the export of Iranian oil since it is one of the main providers of the European markets. Also we support sanctions on "Saypa" and "Iran Khodro" and other Iranian car factories which they have been supplied by foreign companies in order to speed the Iranian nuclear programme.
AHWAZI VOICE IN THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT
AHRO was one of many Ahwazi groups that supported a meeting on Ahwazi Arab rights at the British parliament 15th May.
The event was hosted by the Conservative Human Rights Commission (CHRC) to launch the Ahwaz Human Rights Report 2013, published by the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network, of which AHRO is an affiliate.
Ahwazi activists spoke out against Iran's persecution, campaign of execution, use of torture, the denial of women's rights and environmental destruction of the Ahwazi Arab homeland. CHRC chair Robert Buckland MP remarked that Iran's treatment of Ahwazi Arabs was "one of the worst examples of human rights abuse in the world." He added: "Discrimination against the Ahwazi community has to be stopped. Iran has to take its place as a free and fair nation and show some justice to its own people. It's a simple message. It's one that resonates well and clearly in this parliament."
Ahwazi Arab writer and former political prisoner Yousef Azizi Bani Torouf spoke of the suffering of ethnic Arabs since the Pahlavi dynasty was founded in 1925 and continued by the Islamic Republic. Ahwazi environmental activist Haifa Assadi, an executive member of the Council of Human Rights Defenders without Borders, detailed the environmental destruction of the Ahwazi Arab homeland, which stated was on a scale of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Ahwazi women's rights activist Elham Saedi examined Ahwazi Arab women's "double persecution by the Iranian regime due to their ethnicity and gender. This operates in the areas of education, health, politics and social life. While Ahwazi Arab men are second-class citizens, Ahwazi women are third-class." She stated that "The freedom of all Ahwazi Arabs depends on the freedom of the female half of the population. Women’s rights should be central to the Ahwazi struggle."
Mr Buckland concluded the meeting by describing Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs as "a concerted attempt to prevent a whole section of Iranian society to make progress, to achieve their ambitions and live their dreams. "People want change and want change urgently for the sake of those thousands of people living in these conditions without basic freedoms."
He praised Foreign Secretary William Hague's vocal support for Ahwazi political prisoners suffering torture and execution: "I welcome the robust attitude of the British government towards Iran's violations of human rights against the Ahwazi Arabs. I was particularly encouraged by the Foreign Secretary who made a public condemnation of the execution of the Malashieh Four last year."
Drawing attention to current events, Mr Buckland said: "We are coming up to a time of important presidential elections in Iran next month. It's a worrying time because we know that very often the electoral process is associated with more crackdowns
"I very much hope that this period of 2013 when the eyes of the world will be on Iran will be an opportunity to do everything we can to highlight the predicament of the Ahwazi Arabs and to do our bit to make sure that in the years to come we will be meeting in rooms like this perhaps celebrating the freedom of those millions of people who live under such oppression.
"It's only a dream at the moment, but I believe that meetings like this will have an effect and one day that change will come." «
"I very much hope that this period of 2013 when the eyes of the world will be on Iran will be an opportunity to do everything we can to highlight the predicament of the Ahwazi Arabs" - Robert Buckland, MP
Ahwaz News Agency: www.ahwaziarabs.info
Ahwaz Studies Center: www.ahwazstudies.org