HRW condemns Iran’s violation of minorities’ rights


Human Rights Watch have asked the Iranian authorities to provide information regarding the condition and well-being of seven men from the country’s ethnic Arab minority who are known to be in Iranian custody in a press release on June 21, 2012.

The report discloses that Iranian authorities in the southwestern city of Ahvaz may have executed at least four of the seven men in recent days, and have so far refused to hand over the bodies to their families. The report had urged the authorities in Tehran to allow minorities to exercise all rights granted by the Iranian Constitution and international law.

The 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.

Sources close to the families of three brothers – Taha Heidarian, 28; Abbas Heidarian, 25; and Abdul-Rahman Heidarian, 23 – told Human Rights Watch that on June 17 authorities notified the family that the three had been executed. Two weeks ago, prison authorities had transferred the brothers, along with three other prisoners, from Karun prison’s general ward to an unknown location.

Another brother was arrested and also taken to an unknown location when he inquired about their location. The brothers’ families had not received any information since their transfer, raising fears that four of the men, who had been sentenced to death, would be executed within days. The fourth man believed to have been executed is Ali Naami Sharifi.

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.

The full HRW press release can be found here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/21/iran-reveal-fate-arab-minority-prisoners