Gulf European Centre for Human Rights
The deterioration of human rights in Ahwaz by the Iranian authorities
23rd January 2019
Ahwazi Arabs have been facing flagrant violations of human rights since they lost control of their national sovereignty in 1925 (after the occupation of Ahwaz) by Iranian forces. Thus, after 1925 Ahwazi faced repression and pressure such as political, demographic, cultural and economic change by the Iranian Pahlavi era.
In addition, the oppressive and security pressures on Ahwazi people, particularly activists in Ahwaz, increased dramatically after the current regime seized power in 1979, although the Iranian constitution recognizes the existence and rights of Ahwazi Arabs as ethnic group in Iran (the Iranian constitution recognizes specific matters for Ahwazi), but in fact, the Iranian authorities continue to pressure the people of Ahwaz. Political pressure caused a reaction by the Ahwazi people, and the regime began to execute and detain many Ahwazi activists, including women, adolescents and the elderly.
Iran is one of the most repressive countries in the Middle East and the world that violates basic human rights, especially the rights of workers, journalists, politicians, opponents and activists through its military and security departments such as the intelligence services, security forces, police, military, Basij and the courts, including revolutionary courts. Iran now has an appalling ranking in the human rights index among 160 countries in 2018.
According to international human rights organisations, the Ahwazi people are the most victimized by Iranian policies that deny Ahwazi basic rights guaranteed by international charters, although the vast majority of Iranian income comes from Ahwaz. The Iranian authorities should provide more facilities to guarantee the rights of Ahwazi citizens. However, the Iranian authorities continues its flagrant violations of human rights in Ahwaz, and this violation has increase dramatically and there has been no change in the Iranian regime's approach to Ahwazi citizens.
Ahwazi human rights source pointed out that the Iranian violations in Ahwaz targeted all segments of Arab society in Ahwaz, whether they are prisoners, activists, professors, students, journalists, politicians or ordinary people. The Gulf European Centre for Human Rights monitors human rights violations in Ahwaz and provided a number of figures on the record of violations of the Iranian authorities in 2018, based on official sources or reliable non-governmental sources within Al-Ahwaz, international human rights reports, reports of UN bodies and reports in an interview with some Ahwazi victims.
"The Iranian authorities have crushed freedom of expression in Iran in general and in Ahwaz in particular, where banned associations, organising demonstrations and began to arrest civilian activists, jurists and politicians in Ahwaz," said Faisal Fulad, a chairman of Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society. In 2018, at least 500 demonstrators were arrested in Ahwaz in the January protests and in the March-April protest. The sources confirmed that at least 10 Ahwazi were shot dead by the security forces, while the number of detainees during the protests of January, March and April are still in detention, noting their lack of basic rights, such as the denial of access to legal representation. However, the issue of the detention of 1,000 people in Ahwaz who were detained between September 22 and December 2018 was appalling throughout the year, with 600 of them still in detention without any chance of contact with their families or the reason for their arrest. In addition, the Ahwazi workers' protests have continued since December 2018 to date, with more than 50 workers being arrested.
Torture, beatings and bullying during interrogations became common practice against Ahwazi detainees by the Iranian security forces and intelligence services. At least three people were tortured to death, while many others suffered ill-treatment, such as prolonged solitary confinement, tying them to poles in cold or hot weather, and beating them with cables. Where the leader of the Labour protest in Ahwaz, who was arrested in December 2018, said he was severely tortured by the Iranian intelligence services, although he was not a political activist.
According to reliable sources in Ahwaz, a number of harsh sentences were issued in 2018 against Ahwazi citizens, including confiscation of property, commercial property, residential land, agricultural land and other cruel punishments. In 2018, more than 20 Ahwazi families of the Mandaei religious minority lost their homes by the IRGC. Many Sunni Ahwazi were arrested, and a number of historical sites in Ahwaz were destroyed from the era of the Masha'isheya and Ka'abi states.
Iranian courts have played a negative role in increasing discrimination and persecution against the Ahwazi people. In fact, all Iranian courts fail to conduct fair trials and are alleged to extract confessions under torture and pressure. Iranian courts also prohibit a large number of Ahwazi prisoners from using the services of lawyers. The Revolutionary Courts also joined the security services to torture the Ahwazi activists and sentenced a large number of Ahwazi to long life imprisonment and even death, or the release of some Ahwazi detainees on bails such as the home document. However, a large number of these detainees cannot provide this guarantee because a large number of Ahwazi do not have own accommodation.
According to Amnesty International, between December 2017 and December 2018, at least 285 people were executed in Iran. However, other human rights organisations like HARANA said that more than 500 people were executed in Iran in 2018. Many executions took place in Ahwaz. The sources believe that more than 20 people were executed in Ahwaz in 2018 (this number does not include Ahwazi who were shot dead by the security services and the Iranian security forces), but the Ahwazi human rights organisations added that there is not exact number of Ahwazi executed in 2018, but the number is not less than 40 people. However, in November 2018, 22 Ahwazi were executed by the Iranian intelligence services without a fair trial and without knowledge of their families. This figure does not include the number of executions in Ahwaz in 2018 because the Iranian authorities did not recognize this crime.