Iran: Sweeping Arrests of Ahwazi Arab Activists
April 29, Tehran: Iran’s intelligence and security forces have rounded up and detained scores of Ahwazi Arabs, including several children, in what appears to be an escalating crackdown in Iran’s Khuzestan province, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
According to activists and family members, many arrests took place in the lead-up to the tenth anniversary of mass anti-government demonstrations that gripped the Arab-populated province in April 2005. Family members said the arrests have been carried out without warrants by groups of armed masked men affiliated with Iran’s security and intelligence services, usually following home raids of Ahwazi Arab activists during the late evening or early morning hours. The human rights organizations expressed concern that people may have been arrested merely in connection with their perceived political opinions, for peacefully expressing dissent or for openly exhibiting their Arab identity and culture.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International “The reported scale of the arrests against Ahwazi Arab activists in recent weeks is deeply alarming,” and added “Instead of relying on arbitrary arrests, Iranian authorities should release those detained for peacefully demonstrating or speaking out and promptly charge any others with a recognizably criminal offense and ensure they receive a fair trial or release them.”
Iranian authorities should provide the families of all detainees with information about their whereabouts and legal status, the organizations said.
Ahwazi Arab activists outside Iran told Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that security forces have arrested at least 78 people, and possibly more than 100, since mid-March 2015 in the city of Ahvaz, the Khuzestan provincial capital, and surrounding towns and villages following largely peaceful protests. They said those arrested include people suspected of playing leadership roles in mobilizing local protests. Iranian authorities have not given a reason for the arrests or revealed the status and whereabouts of the detainees, placing them at increased risk of torture and other ill-treatment, the human rights organizations said. The Oslo Times Source: HRW