FIVE ARABS AT IMMINENT RISK OF EXECUTION IN IRAN
The Ahwazi Arab minority is one of many minorities in Iran. Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the south-western province of Khuzestan. Most are Shi’a Muslims but some are reported to have converted to Sunni Islam, heightening government suspicion about Ahwazi Arabs. They often complain that they are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing, political participation and cultural rights.
There were mass demonstrations in Khuzestan province in April 2005, after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity. Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in June and October 2005, which killed at least 14 people, and explosions at oil installations in September and October 2005, the cycle of violence intensified, with hundreds of people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arbitrary arrests. At least 15 men were later executed as a result of their alleged involvement in the bombings.
Scores, if not hundreds, of members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were reportedly arrested before, during and after demonstrations on 15 April 2011. The demonstrations had been called a “Day of Rage” to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2005 mass demonstrations. At least three (according to the authorities) - and possibly many more - people were killed in the April 2011 demonstrations during clashes with the security forces, including some in the Malashiya neighbourhood in Ahvaz. Amnesty International received the names of 27 individuals allegedly killed. Ahwazi Arab sources have claimed the casualty figures were even higher. Amnesty International has been unable to confirm the reports as the Iranian authorities do not allow the organization to visit the country. The authorities maintain a tight control on the flow of information in and out of the province, including by preventing foreign journalists from visiting Khuzestan. At least four Ahwazi Arab men reportedly died in custody between 23 March 2011 and mid May 2011, possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. Others were hospitalized around the same time, apparently as a result of injuries sustained from torture or other ill-treatment.
At least eight Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, including Hashem Hamidi, said to have been aged only 16, were executed between 5 and 7 May 2011, three reportedly in public, for their alleged involvement in the killing of three individuals including a law enforcement official (see Iran: Arbitrary arrests, torture and executions continue, Index: MDE 13/051/2011, 20 May 2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/051/2011/en
Between 10 January 2012and the beginning of February 2012, in the lead-up to parliamentary elections held on 2 March 2012, between 50 to 65 individuals were reportedly arrested in at least three separate locations in the province; at least two deaths in custody have also been reported. Some Ahwazi Arabs, mostly in Shoush, called for a boycott of the elections and arrests in Shoush, north-central Khuzestan, reportedly followed the appearance of anti-election slogans painted on walls. Others may have been pre-emptive arrests aimed at preventing any gathering of Ahwazi Arabs either on the anniversary of country-wide demonstrations held on 14 February 2011 in support of the people of Tunisia and Egypt which were violently repressed, or on the 15 April anniversary of the “Day of Rage”.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the authoritative body which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party, has found that public executions are “incompatible with human dignity” and in November 2011 called on Iran to prohibit their use.
Names: Abdulrahman Heidari, Taha Heidari, Jamshid Heidari, Mansour Heidari and Amir Mo’avi
Gender m/f: m
UA: 77/12 Index: MDE 13/013/2012 Issue Date: 8 March 2012