Thursday, 18 October 2012

UN Special Rapporteur:  A wide range of human rights violations in Alahwaz
Cataloguing “a wide range of human rights violations in Ahwaz,” UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed released his third report on Thursday 11 October 2012. Still, the Iranian regime has failed to cooperate with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur or address the issues raised in his two earlier reports. The following is the report:

The Arab community
Arabs reportedly experience high drop-out rates as a result of the lack of education in their mother tongue, and Ahwazi students drop out of schools at a rate of 30 per cent at elementary level, 50 per cent at secondary level, and 70 per cent at high school level. Illiteracy rates among Ahwazi Arabs are reported to total over 50 per cent of the population.46 Furthermore, publications such as newspapers and educational materials in Arabic are reportedly prohibited. Despite the fact that between 80 and 90 per cent of the country’s oil comes from Khuzestan (Arabistan) Province, it has been reported that local communities do not benefit from the wealth inherent to the area.47 Several interviewees also maintained that there was a shortage of water, electricity and sanitation in Khuzestan (Arabistan) and that, despite water shortages in the province, water from the local Karun River was being diverted to other provinces.
It has been estimated that 4 million Arabs live in impoverished urban slums, and that homes continue to be destroyed in order to facilitate State-sponsored development.48 In April 2005, a controversial letter allegedly written by a presidential adviser that discussed policies for the relocation of Arabs to other parts of the country, and the planned resettlement of non-Arabs to Khuzestan (Arabistan), was leaked.49 Protests against the contents of the letter were allegedly met with violence by security forces, leading to the death of at least two children, and the arrest and injury of hundreds of protesters. The alleged author of the letter has reportedly denied the letter’s authenticity. In interviews with the Special Rapporteur, members of the community reported that Ahwazi Arabs had been forcibly evicted from their property, undercompensated for their land, and were often left without access to adequate housing, sanitation or clean water.
Interviewees also maintain that their objections to discriminatory and development policies in the form of peaceful protests and dissemination of educational literature are often met with arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution. A majority of interviewees reported that they were subjected to long periods in solitary confinement, denied family visits, subjected to torture for the purpose of soliciting false confessions, and denied legal counsel and interpretation during their trials.

46 Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, “Alternative report submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the consideration of the second report of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 49th Pre-Sessional Working Group” (March 2012).
47 In 2006, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living reported that cities and towns in Khuzestan (Arabistan) Province lacked basic services, which negatively affected the population’s health (see E/CN./2006/41/Add.2, 21 March 2006).
48 Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization,“Ahwazi Arabs”, June 2010.
49Ibid.,p.2;and 20 12-50813

In June 2012, the Special Rapporteur joined the Special Rapporteurs on summary executions and torture in condemning the execution of four Arabs who were arrested in April 2011 at a protest. Abdul Rahman Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian, Taha Heidarian and Ali Sharif were reportedly sentenced to death on charges of moharebeh and fisad-al-arz in the absence of fair trial standards. In a video plea to the Special Rapporteur, all four defendants denied the charges, maintained that they were tortured for the purposes of soliciting a confession, and maintained that they were sentenced to be hanged in unfair trials.50 All four men were executed on or around 19 June 2012. Family members were reportedly informed of the execution after it had been carried out. Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, also members of the Arab community, were sentenced to death on similar charges.

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