Saturday, 26 May 2012

US 2011 Human Right Report: Ahwazi Arabs encountered oppression and discrimination, including torture of activists and the lack of freedom to study and speak Arabic

In its 2011 report on human rights practices in Iran, the US Department of State has highlighted the following  Iran's violence and  discrimination practices against the Ahwazi Arabs:

Iran reportedly executed at least four persons for crimes committed when they were minors. For example, on May 5, according to AI, the government executed 16-year-old Hashem Hamidi, a member of the Ahwazi Arab minority, along with four men in Karoun Prison in Ahwaz. Ahwazi Arab sources said the men were arrested after participating in demonstrations on April 15, but the charges against them were not known. Hamidi’s trial, in the absence of his lawyer, reportedly took only 10 minutes.

The government banned coverage of the April crackdown on the Arab minority protests in Khuzestan [Arabistan] ... and denied both international and local media access to the scene of the protests.

On April 15, authorities violently oppressed a protest organized by ethnic Arabs in the Khuzestan [Arabistan] region. Security forces reportedly fired live rounds into the crowd. It was estimated that a dozen demonstrators were killed and scores more injured.

The RSF reported that authorities arrested up to 97 protesters. The demonstrators were commemorating the sixth anniversary of a 2005 demonstration that security forces violently suppressed. Iran insisted that the report was fabricated. On the same day, a representative from the Ahwazi Organization for the Defense of Human Rights, based in London, told HRW that, since April 15, security forces had “killed 48 innocent protesters, injuredtens, and arrested hundreds of Ahwazis.” On April 18, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi wrote a letter about the incident to the UN high commissioner for human rights. According to Ebadi, hundreds of people in the city of Ahwaz had gathered for a peaceful demonstration against the government’s discrimination towards its Sunni minority.

On May 11, according to an official report from the Khuzestan district attorney, seven young Arabs had been executed in the preceeding days in the town of Ahwaz. However, posts on Facebook reported that nine young Arab activists from Ahwaz had been executed. Official sources claimed that those executed were criminals dealing in drugs, although such claims often were leveled as justification to execute political activists from the Arab minority. The Arab minority in Ahwaz asked for the intervention of global human rights organizations.

Concerning the plights and violation ethnic minorities’ rights the report says "The constitution grants equal rights to all ethnic minorities and allows for minority languages to be used in the media and in schools. In practice minorities did not enjoy equal rights, and the government consistently denied their right to use their language in school. The government disproportionately targeted minority groups, including Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, and Baluchis, for arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, and physical abuse (see also section 1.e., Political Prisoners and Detainees). These groups reported political and economic discrimination, particularly in their access to economic aid, business licenses, university admissions, permission to publish books, and housing and land rights. The government blamed foreign entities, including a number of governments, for instigating some of the ethnic unrest."

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