Sunday, 15 April 2012

Letters from a Dead Man: The case of Muhammad Ali

Source: http://www.ahwazsolidarity.org/uploads/MASawari.pdf

Muhammad Ali Sawari
Muhammad Ali Sawari, a 38 year old teacher from Ahwaz City, was executed along  with his brother Hamza (also referred to as Jafar) Sawari on September 11, 2007 in Ahwaz City. Muhammad Ali, along with nine other Ahwazi Arab political prisoners, was the subject of appeals by Amnesty International (MDE 13/023/2006, 10 March  2006; MDE 13/073/2006, 29 June 2006; MDE 13/085/2006, 1 August 2006; MDE  13/041/2007, 2 April 2007; MDE 13/111/2007, 13 September 2007).



The men were reportedly accused of involvement in bomb attacks carried out in 2005 and 2006, including attacks on oil installations. The men's execution prompted spontaneous anti-government demonstrations in Ahwaz. Security forces fired on the 
crowds. Reports suggest that one person was killed and 20 others wounded. Mohammad Ali Sawari and Jafar Sawari had been in prison since 2005. They were  initially accused of promoting Sunni Islam. These charges were later supplemented  with charges of bombing the Zergan oilfields. No evidence was produced to back up 
the charges.


Mohammad Ali was an English literature graduate. Some reports claim he was also accused of translating George Orwell's book, Animal Farm, into Arabic, with the aim  of sparking an uprising. According to his family, there was no allegation of bombings 
in his file. He established Arab youth groups in several cities to teach Arabic language and culture and ran a monthly periodical called “Al-Resaleh” (The Cause).


He also set up an Arabic cultural organisation called “Sandouq Imam Ali”.


The Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network has translated his letters of appeal and personal documents provided by the Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights, which are presented here. In these letters Muhammad Ali accused the intelligence services of torturing 
him to confessing to the capital crime of “Muharebeh” (war with god) and claimed that the Revolutionary Courts denied him access to lawyers, refused to explain the charges against him or give him access to the evidence used against him.


Despite these appeals and a promise by the intelligence services to overrule the confessions made under duress, he was denied the right to appeal. The original letters are presented in Farsi and are followed by English translations.


Following his execution, his family were reportedly told that the bodies would not be handed back to them but would be buried by the authorities. The execution and burial documents can be found at the end of this document.


The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the unfairness of trials in Revolutionary Courts and to give a voice to a dead man who was executed while protesting his innocence.


Letter to the National Disciplinary Tribunal of Judges


In the name of god


Sender: Muhammad Ali Sawari
Subject of the letter: Complaint 
Receiver: The National Disciplinary Tribunal of Judges
Father’s name: Lafteh 


To: The respectful head of National Disciplinary Tribunal of Judges


I respectfully draw your attention to my conviction, case No. 3/294/85 in division 3 of  the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz. I was sentenced to death by his highness, the judge of  the above mentioned division, Mr. Shaabani,  following conviction for ‘muharebeh’ [fighting God] and ‘acting against national security’. I appeal to you and the respectful court that my case’s judge [Mr. Shaabani], in several places, failed to abide by judicial regulations or implemented them inappropriately. 


Firstly, when I attended the court, I was not aware of where I was or what the purpose of my presence was, because I never received prior notice about the court hearing or anything similar. And the respectful judge did not inform me of my legal rights. 


Secondly, although he [the judge] became aware that I had not met my lawyer even for a moment since my arrest until this moment, he rejected my lawyer’s request for a confidential or non-confidential meeting before the court hearing and he denied my right to consult my lawyer. 


Thirdly, in the absence of other defendants, I was the only person presented before the judge. How  [could] I defend myself when I did not know and understand the concepts of Moharebeh and other judicial terms? The judge did not provide me with any guidance or direction in this regard. He only asked me basic questions.


Fourthly, I was not informed of  whom my fellow convicts  were or who else was involved in my case. I had never seen them before. And during the court hearing, I was prevented from meeting them until my arrival in prison where I first met them and learned of their identities and allegations. 


Fifthly, I was frightened and agitated by the presence of theEttela’at’s [The Iranian intelligence services’] representative. As a result, I lost my trust in the court and the judge. I considered the judge merely another investigator from the Ettela’at and the 
court a department in this ministry. Based on how I was previously treated by Ettela’at during the interrogation, I believed that at this place [the court] my defences 6 and explanations  would be  used against  me, as  was the  case during the interrogation in Ettela’at. 


The respectful  judge never  provided any explanation of how my conviction  was decided or on what grounds the allegations were justified. Further, he never provided any description of witnesses or evidence submitted. In fact, the court appeared to be a merely an interrogation session. 


Now, I humbly request  an investigation  into the violation or avoidance of some  judicial and legal regulations and legislations perpetrated by the respected judge of the previously mentioned branch which eventually resulted in the loss of my rights. I also  request to be informed of the circumstances of how I was sentenced to  execution. 


“And peace upon you and God’s mercy and blessings”


Muhammad Ali Sawari [and the fingerprint]


Appeal to the Revolutionary Court


In the Name of God


Respected Head of the Ahwaz Islamic Revolutionary Court


Jaafar Sawari
Respectfully, we, Mohammad-Ali Sawari and Hamza Sawari, sons of Lafteh, have been on  trial before the 3rdbranch of this court on 23/05/2006 accused of being  Mohareb [“waging war” (against God)]. 


Because of inputs [promises] made by the intelligence ministry [Ettela’at] in regards  to striking out our confessions, and due to mental and psychological anxieties [disturbances] caused by severe [very harsh] physical and mental torture, we have not denied those false accusations [made against us] in the court mentioned.


Thus, we request the court to offer the necessary cooperation in allowing us the right of appeal in a review court and the right to appeal for solicitors’ submissions that we were completely denied in the initial court.    


Mohammad Ali Sawari and Hamza Sawari

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