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Iran security forces arrest two female Iranian Arab civil activists: Rights group

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Security forces in southwest Iran arrested two Iranian Arab civil activists on Wednesday on unknown charges, a rights group reported.

Security forces arrested Fatima Tamimi and Maryam Ameri in their hometown in Mahshahr, a city in the oil-rich Khuzestan province, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a news site run by a collective of Iranian human rights advocates, reported.

The reasons for the two activists’ arrest and their current whereabouts remain unclear, HRANA said.

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Tamimi, 39 and mother of two, is also a filmmaker who has produced several short documentaries on poverty, addiction, unemployment, and the social issues of Arabs in Iran.

Tamimi and Ameri reportedly recorded traditional Arabic stories, lullabies and songs from different villages in Khuzestan province as part of an oral history project.

Iranian authorities are intolerant of ethnic cultural activism and often arrest Arab civil and cultural activists on separatism charges.

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Arabs in Iran, known as Ahwazi Arabs, are an ethnic minority based in Khuzestan. Despite being Iran’s main oil-producing region, Khuzestan is one of the country’s least developed regions.

Activists from the region say the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights and face discrimination due to their Arab identity and heritage.