The European Parliament has condemned Iran’s “current disrespect of minority rights” and urged the authorities in Tehran to allow minorities “to exercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law.”
Following a recent report by Amnesty International condemning the pending execution of five members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority, the EU parliament called on Iran to eliminate “all forms of discrimination based on religious or ethnic grounds or against persons belonging to minorities, such as Arabs, Bahaí'is, Azeri, Baluchi, Kurds and Turkmen.”
A copy of the EU resolution called on “the Iranian authorities to ensure that the arrested members of Iran´s Ahwazi Arab minority - Mohammad Ali Amouri, Rahman Asakereh, Hashem Shaabni Amouri, Hadi Rashidi, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka are tried according to international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty.”
The five Ahwazi men were arrested last year during the demonstrations and were charged of killing a security and intelligence officer and wounding another. They were sentenced to death on March 15.
The Iranian constitution formally provides for the fair treatment of ethnic minorities, including their rights to use their language, but in practice ethnic groups, such as Azeris, Arabs, Kurds and Balochs are reportedly discriminated against, especially in political rights and freedom of expression.
The EU parliament urged the Iranian government to uphold “the equal treatment and non-discrimination provisions contained in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran in all spheres of public life and services, and to protect the freedoms of ethnic minorities to freely associate and express themselves.”
But the violations of human and civil rights of persons belonging to ethnic minorities, according to the EU resolution “must be seen within the broader context of widespread human rights violations in Iran.”
In a previous interview with Al Arabiya, Kazem Mojaddam, member of the Center against Anti-Arab Racism in Iran, said, “The government of Iran does not allow the Ahwazi people to practice their cultural activities although the Iranian constitution gives this right to all the people of Iran.”
Mojaddam added that the Ahwazi people were being threatened by the Iranian government, “which tries to undermine the Arab identity and culture through imprisonment and killing of Arab artists and writers.”
“The government also does not allow Arab-speaking Iranians to name their children after non-Shiite Arab names,” Mojaddam added.
Khuzestan is the source of 90 percent of Iran’s oil production, but people in the province complain of marginalization, poverty and the lack of adequate social services.
Besides, the province often takes the lion’s share of executions in the country. In 2007, Iranian authorities executed 22 activists in Ahwaz after they were accused to supporting the secession of the region from Iran.
( Written by: Ikram al-Yacoub )