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Iran executes four ethnic Arabs for alleged armed attacks: Rights group

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Iran executed four ethnic Arabs on Monday for allegedly carrying out armed attacks, a rights group reported.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a news site run by a collective of Iranian human rights advocates, named the four as Ali Khasraji, Hossein Silawi, Nasser Khafajian and Jassem Heydari.

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Khasraji, Silawi and Khafajian had been sentenced to death in connection with an armed attack on a police station in Ahwaz, capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province, in 2017.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said at the time two police officers were killed in the attack.

The three had been subjected to “torture and other ill-treatment, resulting in their ribs or hands being broken,” according to London-based human rights group Amnesty International.

“Security and intelligence officials repeatedly coerced them under torture to make self-incriminating statements, which were broadcast shortly after their arrests in May 2017 and then used by the court to convict them,” Amnesty said.

The fourth executed prisoner, Heydari, had been charged with “armed insurrection.”

Last month, Amnesty called on Iran to halt the execution of the four prisoners.

Iranian state media has only reported the execution of Heydari.

Heydari allegedly led an armed attack on a police station in 2015, according to state news agency IRNA.

He had also at some point joined al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria where he received military training, IRNA alleged.

Activists said Heydari was tortured to confess to crimes he did not commit.

Heydari had to use a wheelchair for some time in prison as a result of the torture he was subjected to, according to HRANA.

All four executed prisoners were ethnic Arabs from the southwestern Khuzestan province. The province is home to most of Iran’s oil reserves and to a population of ethnic Arabs, known as Ahwazi Arabs, some of whom see themselves as living under Persian occupation and demand independence or autonomy.

Ahwazi activists say Iranian Arabs are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights, and face discrimination due to their Arab identity and heritage.

Iran has the highest number of executions in the world after China. It has executed 51 people since the beginning of this year, according to Iran Human Rights, a non-profit, human rights organization based in Oslo.

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