By Rahim Hamid
11 February, 2016
The human rights situation has been
worsening quickly in Iran. More than 2,000 people have been hung during Hassan
Rouhani’s tenure as President of the regime. This is the biggest scale of
executions in the past 25 years. These mass executions will be added to the
black pages of the Iranian regime's history of human rights violations since
the Iranian revolution in 1979. The large-scale execution of political and
ideological prisoners has resulted in Iran being named one of the top countries
committing executions per capita during the past few years.
Unlocked from its sanction-based
constrictions, Iran is now fully free to underwrite terror and carry out more
executions against Ahwazi Arab and throughout the country. Five Ahwazi are
facing imminent execution in public. The names of these Ahwazi Arab prisoners
are Qais Obeidawi, Hamood Obeidawi, Mohammad Helfi, Mehdi Moarabi and Mehdi
The five men were condemned following a
trial filled with heinous violations of the judiciary process by the
Revolutionary Court of mullahs in Iran. These prisoners were arrested in April
2015 and on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, were brought in front of television cameras
of Press TV by Ministry of Information to make public confessions of about
their fictional crimes. Farhad Afsharnya, the regime’s supposed Chief Justice
for the AL- Ahwaz region said the execution of the five Arabs was confirmed, it
will be ratified by the court and execution will be carried out in public.
These Ahwazi activists were only concerned
with advancing cultural and social awareness for the cause of Ahwaz people and
were not connected to an armed struggle against the state. The Iranian regime
has stepped up its ferocious crackdown against Ahwazis and all none- Persian
activists after the tension between Iran and its neighbours heightened as a
result of Iran’s involvement in Middle Eastern wars, such as in Syria and
Yemen. Similar sentences have been issued in closed rather than public court
proceedings, give a substantial reason to conclude that the Iranian judicial
system only pay lip service to any idea of due process. Furthermore, it becomes
apparent that human rights are overlooked by any president while the judicial
system is not independent. These executions might occur anytime soon after
Iranian parliamentary election at the end of February.
The Iranian regime’s massive hypocrisy in
condemning Saudi Arabia’s questionable human rights record is breathtaking. Any
use of the term “moderate” in connection with Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani
is ludicrous hyperbole; he is simply the president elected from the list of
candidates chosen for the position by the Guardian Council, consisting of 12
Islamic theologians and Jurists, according to the Iranian constitution.
Under the constitution, secular candidates
or those who fail to embrace the Islamic Republic’s theocratic hard-line Shiite
values are nominally capable of being selected but, in reality, are not.
The parliament or Masjid has little power
over the regime’s religious courts to stop or even slow down the rate of
executions, with the courts routinely issuing verdicts without even hearing
evidence or investigating the charges against accused individuals as might be
expected under legal systems elsewhere in the world.
One example of the Iranian regime’s legal
system is the common charge of muharebeh or ‘enmity to God,’ routinely used
against human rights activists and dissidents, which invariably receives the
death penalty, often administered in public by stoning or mass hangings by
cranes. Many of those hanged take up to 20 minutes to die slowly and painfully
of strangulation. The victims’ bodies are left for some time before being
removed as a way of intimidating the public into silence.
Since Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013,
over 2,000 Iranians, including women, many of them Ahwazi Arabs, Kurdish and
Baluchi Sunnis, have been executed, almost all after ludicrous kangaroo trials
in which they were unrepresented and not allowed to submit any evidence in
their defence. Recently, six of 33 Sunni men currently on death row were
publicly executed in a mass hanging, while another woman was sentenced to death
by stoning. This is the “moderate” Iranian regime.
This report sheds light on this failure of
the Iranian regime to respect the rights of the Ahwazi Arab people in Al-Ahwaz,
the south and south west part of Iran.
Conducted behind closed doors, before
biased judges and in the absence of legal representation, the unfair trials of
Arabs in the AL-Ahwaz region are part of a long-standing persecution of this
oppressed people in Iran.
Despite the fact that this recurring
miscarriage of justice is in flagrant violation of the Islamic Republic's
constitution, Iran's jails are filled with Ahwazi political prisoners who face
brutal punishments, a lifetime in prison or execution.
Over the past decade, hundreds of Ahwazi
Arab prisoners ranging from poets, teachers to bloggers and human rights
activists have been executed on trumped up charges in kangaroo courts.
Rather than finding reasonable evidence for
the commission of a crime, judges generally rely on confessions, which have
been drawn out from the accused through physical torture and psychological
duress. Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the accused are kept in the dark,
often not informed of where their loved one has been imprisoned, or even buried.
As we follow carefully the history of
Ahwazi Arab people of repression, violence and capital punishment, we see that
they have a long record of systematic crackdown over decades.
Meanwhile, the execution of Ahwazi
intellectuals historically has inflicted an irreversible blow to the liberty
movement of this occupied nation that has been struggling to achieve its
fundamental rights of self- determination for years.
The executions of early leaders of Ahwaz
liberation movement in 1963, the oppressive policies of Islamic Republic of
Iran against Ahwazi people in every phases of their life, the tragic bloody
massacre of Mohammareh city in 1979, and the severe crackdown of popular
uprising in 2005 provide ample evidence that the intellectual, Ahwazi public figures,
and the political class of this nation repeatedly have been targeted for
imprisonment, repression and execution.
The largest popular uprising of Ahwazi
people broke out on 9 April 2005 when people from several cities turned out
into the streets and protested against the distribution of circular(petition)
attributed to Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former vice president-parliamentary legal
affairs of the president Mohammad Ali Khatami.
The latter events of popular uprising in
April 2005 in Ahwaz which was a nonviolent demonstration against the wicked
policy of central government focused on altering the demography of Ahwazi Arab
people reminded the nation of the catastrophic massacre when so many people
were killed in the course of the widespread peaceful demonstration, so many
people massacred in the street by Iranian squad riot forces.
At the time, many civil and cultural
activists were executed and many clean-handed and innocent young protesters
were killed under tortures, their bodies discovered in Karoon River. These
bodies were wrapped up in plastic and their hands were tied up behind their
backs by rope. After the massacre, terrible panic and suffocating climate
dominated in the region and subsequently, the executions of highly educated,
intellectuals, and civil and political activists started again.
Notably, in 2005, dozens of teachers and
cultural activists were arrested and after unfair trials and without access to
legal representation, they were charged with vague charges such as acting
against the national security, enmity with God, corrupting the earth and
blasphemy , and then condemned to execution or life imprisonment. As an
example, MR. ZamellBawi, who was studying law at senior semester at university
and was waiting for his graduation ceremony, was arrested by intelligence
security and under physical and psychological tortures was forced to
incriminate himself falsely.
After a show trial in revolutionary court
in Ahwaz he was sentenced to death and his verdict confirmed by the higher
tribunal in Tehran. Additionally six immediate members of his family who were
mostly students and cultural activists, were sentenced to life imprisonment and
exiled to far- away prisons outside Ahwaz.
In 2005, Ali OudaAfravi , Mehdi
HantoushNavaseri, in 2006, Ali Matori, Malik al-Tamimi, Abdullah Soleimani
(Kaabi), Abdul Amir Faraj Allah, Mohammad Lazem Kaab, Khalaf DhrabKhazraei ,
Ali Reza Asakereh, in 2007, QasemSalamat, Majed Albughbish, Razi Zargani,
RaisanSawari, AbdolrezaHantoushNavaseri, Muhammed Ali Sawari ,JaafarSawari, in
2008, Hussein Asakereh, Abdul Hussein Al -hareibi, Ahmad Meramzy, ZamellBawi,in
2009, Khalil Kaabi and Said Sadon were sentenced to death on false charges of
"enmity against God" and after months of torture in solitary
confinement in secret prisons secretly were hanged. It is noteworthy that all
these executed people were the educated and the political and cultural
activists of the Ahwaz nation and the bodies of these people had not been
handed over to their families.
Hashem Shabani, an Ahwazi Arab poet and
human rights activist was executed for being enemy of God and threatening
national security. In reality, he spoke about against brutal treatment of
Ahwazi Arabs, apparently he was campaigning for the Ahwazi people who are
oppressed, mocked and treated as third citizens by Iranians. We have to keep in
mind that if somebody is an Arab, then they are not the same as being an
Iranian Persian because of their ethnic background. There is a cultural bias
against Ahwazi Arabs in the mainstream Persian population.
In 2011, the brothers Heydariyan (3 people)
along with their friend, Ali Sharifi, were arrested in the wake of civil
protests in Ahwaz. According to credible reports, they were charged with enmity
with God and at were sentenced to death after confessing under torture. They
were denied a fair trial and judicial proceedings and in 2012 were hanged in
secret. Ali Chbyshat and Khalid Mousavi were arrested in 2011 and were kept for
seven months in solitary confinement by the Intelligence Service without access
to lawyers and then convicted to death penalty and hanged in secret.
Because of the severe repression,
censorship, lack of freedom of the press and the judicial system's lack of
transparency and lack of coverage for any of the non-Persian prisoners, there
is no possible way to give exact figures of all the death sentences among
non-Persian ethnic groups in Iran. Iran not only has the world's highest
execution rates but the executions have mostly been carried out against ethnic
groups such as Ahwazis, Kurds and Baluchis who are struggling to achieve their
national and linguistic identity and self-determination rights.
There are thousands of underage prisoners
who have been executed in Iran. According to the International Covenants on
Human Rights, the death penalty is forbidden for people who commit crimes while
under eighteen years of age. Waging war against God is one of the leading
charges used by the Iranian regime to justify the inhuman executions of ethnic
groups in Iran.
Since the 80s, the clerical regime used it
as a weapon to suppress many political and ideological opponents. Most
executions of prisoners who were accused of "enmity against God"
belong to none-Persian ethnic nationalities in Iran, mostly Ahwazi Arab,
Baluch, and Kurdish activists.
The regime defies international law by holding
all the bodies of the executed prisoners. Hundreds of Ahwazi prisoners’ bodies
have been withheld by the Iranian authorities. Many human rights organisations
called on the regime authorities to hand over the bodies of the executed
political prisoners to their anguished families.
This is a part of the regime’s collective
punishment policy against the Ahwazi Arab people, Iran has refused to deliver
the bodies of hundreds of Ahwazis executed since 2005 to date under the pretext
that their families will hold funerals for them, which will serve as a catalyst
for Ahwazi uprising. This reflects the racism of the Iranian regime against
Finally one must question the purpose of
the regime behind the high number of executions and the human tragedies. In a
country where most of fraud and administrative and financial corruption are
committed by the regime officials, while the oppressed nations are living in
extreme poverty, why is it that these officials have not been prosecuted or
It can be concluded that the executions of
non-Persian prisoners have political and security aspects in a bid of the
ruling regime in Iran to expand its domination and control over the occupied
and oppressed nations of Ahwaz, Kurdistan, Baluchistan and other peoples in the
When the Iranian regime learned that its
agenda has been failed to put out the peaceful resistance of Ahwazi people the
Iranian authorities with the help of their deeply flawed criminal justice
system began to prioritize the death penalty of Ahwazi prisoners, amid warnings
from the human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International.
Since the Ahwazi uprising, the death
sentences and executions are being imposed and carried out on Ahwazi prisoners
even more extensively, after procedures that violate human rights standards.
Iranian television stations like Press TV
continue to broadcast self-incriminating testimonies of Ahwazi detainees even
before the opening of a trial, undermining the fundamental rights of defendants
to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Is it just Ahwazi political prisoners who
must be executed for using their pens, the only weapons they raised in the
struggle for the rights of the Ahwazi people? Why is it a crime in the Iranian
state to write about the lack of basic rights to a decent existence for the
Ahwazi people who live below the poverty line, while their land is teeming with
natural resources such as oil, natural gas, mining stone and running water? All
remain inaccessible to the people of Ahwaz, including the right to clean
Where is the justice when the Ahwaz region,
the so-called heart of Iran's economy, is considered one of the poorest regions
From 2003 to date, the climate in Ahwaz has
dramatically deteriorated due to air pollution caused by Iran's industrial
activities in Ahwaz. Ahwaz is one of the most polluted areas in Iran and the
larger Middle East, and it is an area where there is a visible increase in the
number of people dying from pollution related diseases.
One has only to visit the out-patient
department in hospitals in the Ahwaz to find them filled with patients
suffering from cancer and other pollution related chronic lung diseases. If our
political prisoners have established campaigns, it is only because they could
not close their eyes and remain silent to the horrific sufferings of their
The world is learning slowly that Ahwazi
political prisoners are quickly sentenced to death after unjust show-trials
where they are charged with "enmity against God", or that they post a
risk to national security, or militant activities and secession. The vast
majority of Iranians, the pro-Iranian Mullah regime who view themselves as
human rights advocates who claim to be distraught over the rivers of blood
flowing in Syria and other Arab nations are weeping crocodile tears if they’re
honest, having remained silent for decades on the plight of the Ahwazi Arab
peoples and other brutally oppressed ethnic groups in Iran who are murderously
subjugated and brutalised solely for claiming their lawful rights.
Iran by dominating on the wealth of this
nation has increasingly plundered it and as a result of it, the villages and
towns of Al-Ahwaz were destroyed day by day. The chauvinist policies of Iranian
governments have had to try to completely deny the existence of Ahwazis. In
return, when Ahwazis protest at the ongoing oppression, they will be dealt with
live fire or arrest and then execution. It seems that execution sentence is the
Iran’s last resort to liquidating Ahwazi prisoners.
Rahim Hamid is a freelance journalist and human rights advocate who
writes about the plight of his community - the Ahwazi Arabs - and other ethnic
groups in Iran.