As the Eid Al-Adha[Sacrifice Feast] holiday approaches in Ahwaz, Arab young men and women of Ahwaz are preparing to make the most of this cultural and religious event by gathering in large numbers to celebrate.
The Iranian regime purports to not mind the establishment of these kinds of religious celebrations – especially considering their claims of defending oppressed Muslims around the world. However, recently things have changed.
Following the April 2005 uprising and the aftermath of the Eid Al-Adha uprising of the same year, the Iranian regime has tightened its grip on any public gathering in the region, whether religious or cultural, fearing that increased national consciousness among Ahwazi Arabs will be a threat to ‘national security’. However, the Arabs in Ahwaz have refused to relinquish their customs and identity. They continue to resist the Iranian regime’s arbitrary measures that aim to eradicate Ahwazis from history and existence.
The regime’s unjust practices have had massive impacts on Ahwazi human rights activists, as they are disproportionately targeted with brutality by the Iranian security authorities. According to well-informed sources inside the city of Ahwaz, the local authorities summoned dozens of young men and women in Ahwaz capital to the Intelligence headquarters to interrogate them due to their activities in preparation for Eid Al-Adha in the region.The sources also said that the security authorities threatened activists, ordering them not to conduct any activities or organise any gatherings in locations designated as outdoor by the authorities. The sources added the regime threatened anyone involved in gathering or organising events that they will be subjected to arrest and imprisonment. These sources also noted that the security authorities forced those summoned to agree to these demands and forced them to sign declarations stating they will not take part in any of the upcoming cultural events.
The sources announced the names of thirty six detainees:
1: Reyaz Zeheiri, (Independent activist), 2: Jawad Hashemi,(Independent activist).
3: Hassan Elhaee, (Independent activist), 4: Hassan Delfi, (Independent activist).
5: Heydar Sawari, (Independent activist), 6” Milad Afrawi, (Independent activist).
7: Yosef Khasraji, (Independent activist), 8: Yaser Silawi, (Independent activist).
9: Sajad Elhaee, (Independent activist), 10: Ahmad Heydari, (Independent activist).
11: Ali Bawi, (Independent activist),12: Shaker Sharifi, (Independent activist).
13: Abbas Sharifi, (Independent activist), 14: Khosrow Sa’edi (Independent Activist).
15: Ahmad Daghgalah (Al-Hilal Institute), 16: Morteza Nisi (Independent activist).
17: Saleh Manabi (Independent activist), 18: Abdullah Saedi, who runs the cultural website “www.anamothaqaf.com”.
19: Abdullah Chaldawi (Independent activist), 20: Fahad Hamadi (Independent activist).
21: Aziz Kanani (Independent activist), 22: -Nabi Nissi (Teacher’s Institution).
23: Hadi Sabi, (Independent activist from the Ahwazi Mandaean citizens), 24: Mahdi Korushhat (activist in the People’s Campaign Against Smoking).
25: Adnan Beyanat (Independent Activist), 26: Abbas Sawari (Independent activist).
27: Mohsen Sawari (Independent activist), 28: Yaqoub Heidari (Independent Activist).
29: Bassem Badawi, (Independent Activist), 30: Massoud Hardani (Independent activist).
31: Ali Dohimi (Independent activist), 32: Said Tamimi (independent activist).
33: Yassin Bawi (Independent Activist), 34: Farid Anafjeh (independent activist).
35: Saeed Khezri (Independent activist), 36: Wesam Sharafa (Independent Activist).
It is worth mentioning that Arab Sunnis in Ahwaz also often suffer from double brutality due to systematic sectarian discrimination, mass arrests, and executions. In addition, the authorities prohibit them from practicing their religious/national rituals and building mosques throughout the region.
The Iranian regime imprisons any Ahwazi activist who dares to speak up and demand their rights. When the regime becomes aware of a dissident, it is common they will perform overnight raids upon the household. The home is often ransacked and the family threatened. The Ahwazi activist is then subsequently cuffed, blindfolded, arrested, and brought to an unknown location for detainment, interrogation, and torture.
Persecution and torture perpetrated by the Iranian regime against Ahwazi political prisoners along with all prisoners in Iran and detainees have placed the country second on the list of the world’s top torturers. According to a report released by the “Freedom From Torture” organisation, Iran comes second only after Sri Lanka when it comes to the use of torture as a means to suppress political activity and instill fear in society. The report, titled “Where does torture occur?” pointed out that the Iranian regime has systematically used torture against many non-Persian political activists as well as members of their families.The forms of torture used against the Ahwazi activists are brutal and varied. As an example, the Ahwazi activist Jaber Sakhrawi was subjected to heinous forms of torture while in detention. After being beaten in front of his family, he was transferred to solitary confinement.
He had been arrested along with a group of Ahwazi freedom activists and, after severe harassment and torture, he suffered a stroke resulting in paralysis of his jaw and hand. He was then transferred to Karoon prison and later to Sheyban prison.The Iranian regime frequently conceals the whereabouts of arrested Ahwazi activists, leaving family members unaware if the imprisoned is dead or alive. When the family goes to the local police stations to demand information, the authorities often claim they have never heard of the person in question. When the family cannot locate the arrested, they are often driven to illegal methods of acquiring information, such as paying bribes to the authorities.Months or years after the initial arrest, authorities move the imprisoned activist to another prison after the traces of torture have faded. Only then is the family informed and permitted to visit. But in the end, nothing can change the regime’s power to hand down unjust verdicts. Ahwazi activists usually are charged with “spreading corruption on earth and defying God’s commands” or “undermining security”. Punishments handed down to Ahwazi activists range from life imprisonment to execution, depending on how cruel and racist the judge is.
Many human rights watchdogs have denounced the Iranian regime’s attacks against the Arab people of Ahwaz – especially against prisoners and detainees. These organisations have called on the international community to take steps that will put pressure on the Iranian regime to end their practice of persecuting the Arab people of Ahwaz.Analysts see there are no laws to protect civilians in Iran and under an authoritarian regime, most ethnic groups in the country are subject to systematic discrimination and persecution.These violations have driven human rights organisations to urge the Iranian regime to respect its people and adhere to its international obligations seriously and avoid violating the rights of its people.
Ahwazi Commentators said: “Although the regime suppressed the media and limited the presence of reporters excepting the capital and one or two Persian cities, social media outlets allowed the world to get to what is happening in Ahwaz.””There should be a stand against crimes of Mullahs against Ahwazis,” they noted, citing repression, and discrimination and negligence, which they say adds insult to the Ahwazis’ injury. Some international organisations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, all condemned the Iranian crimes perpetrated against the Ahwazis as well as the violation of their human rights. But, thanks to the efforts of the Iranian regime’s lobby groups in these organisations, widespread condemnation of what is perpetrated against Ahwazis, was prevented. As a result of the fact that the blatant violations of Ahwazis human rights are not addressed by these organisations, Ahwazis find themselves trapped between the pliers of the Iranian regime at home and the Persian lobby in western countries.
C: R Hamid