UN rights experts urge Iran to halt execution of five Ahwazi activists

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A group of U.N. independent human rights experts have urged the Iranian authorities to halt the execution of five Ahwazi Arab activists who were recently sentenced to death by the country’s supreme court.

The five activists -- Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Shabain Amouri and Hadi Rashidi – all of them founding members of Al-Hiwar, a scientific and cultural institute were sentenced to death on charges including “enmity against God,” “corruption on earth,” and spreading propaganda against the system in 2012.

Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for individuals to be imprisoned and condemned to death for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, opinion and expression, and affiliation to minority groups and to cultural institutions,” according to a statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Also commenting on the subject, Maina Kiai -- U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association -- called on Iran to respect its international obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The five activists were detained in 2011 ahead of the sixth anniversary of an uprising by the Ahwazi community which complains of systematic marginalizing and discrimination by the central Tehran-based government.

“Under international law, the death penalty can only be employed when very strict conditions are met, for example only in respect of the most serious crimes and only after a trial and appeal proceedings that scrupulously respect all the principles of due process,” said Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, according to the OHCHR statement.

Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, added that Iran’s move against the activists was a “breach of Iran’s Constitution that explicitly forbids the use of all forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or acquiring information.”

U.N. Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, noted that “the number of cases of individuals belonging to minorities being sentenced for their activities related to their minority rights is a cause for serious concern.”

“I urge the Government of Iran to halt these executions and to review the decisions of the courts to ensure that all human rights, including minority rights, are fully upheld and respected in practice,” Izsák added.
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