Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Iran Arrests A 26-year-old Ahwazi Activist

Iranian security forces have arrested Jawwad Bitrani a 26-year-old Ahwazi activist in the town of  Hamidia, 25 km. west of Ahwaz city. The sources said that he was arrested  at his work place on 7 February 2012 by  security forces and taken to an unknown location. His family have not been told about his whereabouts.  

Iranian security forces arrested more than 65 Arab residents during security sweeps in Iran’s Arab-majority Al Ahwaz since late 2011 Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The Iranian government should immediately charge or release those arrested, Human Rights Watch said.  It also called on Iran to  investigate  the death of two young detainees, Nasser Alboshokeh 19 and Mohammed Jasim Kaabi35 who have died in Intelligence Ministry detention facilities in the past week.

Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said on 7 February 2012  that “There has been a blackout inside Iran on this latest round of arrests targeting Arab protesters and activists. Authorities should immediately divulge the reasons for the arrests, give detainees access to family members and lawyers, bring all detainees promptly before a judge, and hold anyone responsible for torture to account.”

According to HRW press release yesterday "the latest round of arrests in Hamidiyeh began when security forces arrested nine ... Arabs on January 10 and four more on January 26 and 30. Most are between ages 20 and 28, and some had previously been detained for participating in demonstrations demanding more rights for Iran’s ethnic Arabs... Authorities have also arrested at least 27 people in Shush, 115 kilometers northwest of  Ahwaz city , in recent weeks. A local activist there said that security forces, including plainclothes members of the Intelligence Ministry, initiated the arrests in response to anti-government slogans and graffiti spray-painted on public property expressing sympathy for the Arab Spring and calling for a boycott of Iran’sparliamentary elections, scheduled for March 2. The activist said that security forces set up checkpoints throughout Shush. After they arrested Jasim Kaabi, his daughter Khadijeh, and his son Mohammad in their home on January 21, he said “people became angry and poured into the streets.” In response, security forces arrested at least 24 men, most of them in their 20s, on January 25 and 26. The arrests took place in Ahmadabad, Khazireh, Dawwar, and several villages outside of Shush.

“For about four days [from January 25] Shush was effectively under martial law, which has since been lifted,” the activist said. “But the city is still under a heavy security presence.”

The local activist told Human Rights Watch that Mohammad Kaabi, who was arrested in Shush on January 21, died in custody at a local Intelligence Ministry detention facility. The local activist confirmed reports from other activists that on February 2 authorities from the Shush Intelligence Ministry office contacted Kaabi’s family and informed them that he had died. The official reportedly told the family that authorities had already buried Kaabi’s remains and there was no need for funeral services. They warned the family not to conduct a public mourning service for their son.

Prior to news of Kaabi’s death, local activists told Human Rights Watch that 19-year-old Nasser Alboshokeh Derafshan had allegedly died after being tortured on January 30 in an Intelligence Ministry detention facility in Ahwaz. A source close to Derafshan’s family told Human Rights Watch that security forces arrested Derafshan on January 26 for unknown reasons.

On January 30, agents from Ahwaz’s Intelligence Ministry called Derafshan’s father and told them to come pick up him up, the source said. When his father arrived at the detention facility, he caught a glimpse of a body inside the ambulance parked there and asked if it was his son, but the authorities denied it. He followed the ambulance to Golestan hospital and discovered that the body in the ambulance was his son’s. The source told Human Rights Watch that Derafshan’s family saw signs of torture on his body, including bruises on his face, neck, waist, and ribs. The authorities claim that Derafshan died of natural causes".

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