The Ma’shour Massacre in Ahwaz under International Law

The Gulf European Centre for Human Rights


The Ma’shour Massacre in Ahwaz under International Law


Kamil Alboshoka- Ahwazi researcher, Executive Director of the GECHR, rand International law specialist based in London. His twitter account:

Rahim Hamid- Ahwazi author, freelance journalist and human rights advocate. His twitter account:


25th January 2020


(Ref: Al-Ain source and the French source)



Table of Contents




An Inside Report on the Ma’shour Massacre in Ahwaz                       

International Law and Genocide                                                              

      1- Genocide                                                                                             

       2- International Human Rights Law                                                         

       3- Crimes Against Humanity                                                                    

       4- Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court                                 

       5- UN Responsibility to Protect                                                             






The study on the issue of Ma’shour city of Al-Ahwaz will examine how legal rights and international law relate to security and the protection of human rights for different groups of people. The project (study) will also focus on international law, genocide and crimes against humanity as well as the “Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court” on massacres against humanity such as the massacre in the city of Ma`shour in al-Ahwaz on November 17, 2019. The study will discuss the facts and the situation that occurred in the city of Ma`shour In Al-Ahwaz / southwestern Iran, how the Iranian authorities through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other security forces committed a crime in the city, where more than 130 people in the city including children and women were assassinated in a few hours.

International law defines these types of crimes as genocide and crimes against humanity. Consequently, international law has many recommendations to end these types of crimes and provide more recommendations to protect security and stability for people. In addition, the project will cover the legal rights of people to be protected under international law without facing any genocide or other crimes by the Iranian regime. Finally, the project will mention the conclusion and recommendations related to the issue of the Ma’shour massacre, how to prevent the regime from continuing and to repeat this type of policy to prevent and suppress people from their legal rights.


In this project, Rahim Hamid – Ahwazi author and human rights defender; and Kamil Alboshoka – Ahwazi researcher and international law specialist, focused on the issue of the Ma’shour Massacre in order to publish more details about the issue and compare it with international law to clarify how the Iranian regime committed the massacre in the city and violated international law for human rights. It is noteworthy that the Iranian regime committed the same massacre in the city of al-Muhammerah in 1979, in which about 800 Ahwazi were killed and missed. However, the regime was not punished by the international community for the genocide it committed in the city of al-Muhammerah. Therefore, Kamil Alboshoka and Rahim Hamid decided to focus on the issue of Ma’shour to stop the regime from continuing the policy of repression, killing and crimes against Ahwazi Arab people and how the international community can punish the Iranian authorities for this massacre.

In fact, two American activists and lawyers, who have experience in international law and human rights, have supported the project in order to spread the case to many people in the world. Aaron Eitan Mayer and Irina Tsukerman are both working and writing numerous reports on the Ahwazi issue to educate many other American and Western political, legal, and strategic thinkers about the situation in Ahwaz. Consequently, the massacre in the city of Ma’shour is one of the important issues that will require international intervention to protect Ahwazi and punish the Iranian authorities for committing this heinous crime.

The communication between Dur Untash humanitarian centre and the Gulf European Centre for Human Rights made the researcher Kamil Alboshoka and activist Rahim Hamid follow-up and publish the massacre’s details, and then compared the massacre with international law. So, the details of the massacre were published in Dur Untash Centre as news. Then the issue was compared to international law. Consequently, the project will be published as a book and then presented to the United Nations in Geneva, as well as will be published on the site of the GECHR.


An Inside Report on the Ma’shour Massacre in Ahwaz

The Iranian authorities committed a heinous massacre in the city of Ma`shour in al-Ahwaz on November 17, 2019, when a large number of Arab citizens participated in peaceful demonstrations demanding the cessation of Iranian policies to marginalize and impoverish the Ahwazi people.

The city of Ma`shour, in the Ahwaz region in present-day southwest Iran is the home of Iran’s largest petrochemical industry. But in recent days, Ma`shour has come to the fore as a result of the heinous crimes committed by the IRGC and its affiliated militias during the recent protests that swept through the country. It has gained tragic renown as the city in which the Revolutionary Guards carried out mass brutal murders with tanks and machine guns during the protests.[1]

As witnesses have managed to come forward with their stories, the full scale of the IRGC’s crimes has become apparent, along with the IRGC’s use of its terrorist proxies to carry out the slaughter. As one young woman, whose identity – like those of all witnesses quoted herein – must be maintained strictly confidential due to the near-certainty of regime reprisal, explained: “The interesting thing was that the majority of armed forces who were shooting and beating the Arab protesters were speaking Arabic but with different Arabic accents spoken in regional countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. They were ruthless and sprayed the chests of unarmed protesters with bullets.”

Attorney and analyst Aaron Eitan Meyer,[2] who has written about the protests and advocated for international intervention throughout, responded by stating that “this shows how disgustingly worthless mainstream coverage of the protests – and of Iran itself – has been. We have Newsweek writing propaganda for the Iranian regime by nonsensically claiming that somehow Iran is keeping ISIS at bay, while everyone pointedly ignores the fact that Iran has actively deployed its foreign terrorist clients within its borders in order to commit clear crimes against humanity. It’s no longer even a rhetorical question to ask how evil can flourish because we have the answer – with the knowing complicity of nations, private corporations and others who are willing and eager to help even the most horrific, irredeemable regime maintain its ill-gotten power.”

With a population of around 400,000-500,000, Ma’shour county consists of 5 residential areas, namely Jarrahi, Koura, Khor Mousa (Sarbandar or Khomeini port), and the city of Ma’shour. The overwhelming majority of Ma`shour’s residents are Arab, although there are a number of non-Arab incomers who immigrated to the city for economic reasons or were transferred there by the Iranian authorities as an effort to alter the demographic composition in favour of Persian speaking settlers. And the interplay between the Tehran-run petrochemical industry and the destitute across Iran was what nearly sparked into full blown conflagration.[3]

One local said to the authors that, the Iranian top employees in Ma’shour are called “flying employees” because they come to work and fly back the same day to Tehran, and they also bring in their relatives to fill in all jobs from tea or coffee maker to housekeeping staff. The local added that, despite all regime welfare services and incentives, the employed incomers are not able (or willing) to live there due to the poor air quality, and they only come and go back to where they’re from, while Arabs who are deprived and lack any services live in miserable conditions. He concluded by saying that “the suicide rate is rising here, young people have lost hope for future; you are deemed criminal when you born Arab, you are condemned to deprivation when you born Arab.”

Irina Tsukerman[4], a New York-based international human rights lawyer, adds: “The protests in Ma’shour, largely populated by Arabs, are not just about the petrol prices, but rather about the long-decades of systematic racism, discrimination, and marginalisation of the population by the Iranian authorities.[5] Although Iran’s policies on foreign adventurism and terrorism abroad have thrown all of Iran into economic decay and deprivation, the level of poverty in Ma’shour like other Ahwazi Arab areas is abysmal and defies description. The unemployment rate is far higher than in most other parts of the country; Ahwazi Arab workers face abuse and are frequently denied even the meagre wages out to them in factories created on their lands. The regime has done everything possible to drive the local Ahwazi to the brink, denying them any hope for the future and any possibility of reasonable sustenance. The city is flooded with toxic waste and pollution from its 18 petrochemical plants”.[6

It is amply documented that disproportionate numbers of Ahwazi people get sick with cancer.[7] Despite the region being oil-rich, the majority Ahwazi population is denied access to these resources. Anger, despair, high suicide rates, and erasure of cultural identity mark the Ahwazi population here. These conditions have been ignored by international environmentalist activists and human rights bodies for decades, as the situation spiralled out of control, finally reaching its boiling point with the unravelling of recent events.

Much of Ahwaz, as a region, rose up in protests even before the start of the fuel protests in the centre of the country; the initial reason was the brutal assassination of a popular dissident poet named Hassan Haidari by the authorities.[8] However, the price hike, closely related to regime’s self-serving and grotesque expenditures, including the spending on the IRGC activities in Europe and Iraq which had targeted Ahwazi opposition groups,[9] renewed the wave of anger and frustration among the population and reinvigorated the struggle.

The Iranian authorities exercised brutality all across the country; it had shut down the Internet so that the exact numbers of those arrested, wounded, or killed remains unknown. Some sources estimate the numbers of killed to be as high as 300 people,[10] and at least 7000 are thought to be under arrest. However, new statistics showed that the number of deaths reached 1500 people.[11] Ahwazi in past and current protests are known to have suffered disproportionate numbers of detained, killed, and wounded, as the authorities have been responsible for ethnic-based repression even more so than a response to general political opposition. It has used crushing measures to suppress revolts in  Ahwazi cities like Ma’shour, at the same time painting the Ahwazi rising up and demanding their basic rights to be met, as separatists and terrorists, isolating them from the rest of the population despite the fact that they share in the cause of the opposition to fuel, and despite the fact that the authorities owe equal treatment and basic dignity and respect to all its citizens. The IRGC and its terrorist minions have treated the protesters with sadistic and unconscionable cruelty, which amounts to war crimes and which should be brought up before the UN Security Council and the ICC.

The cries of the poor people of Ma’shour area were met with bullets and tanks.[12] When the Ma`shour youth blocked roads leading to the Petro-chemical facilities by setting tires laid across the road on fire, the Revolutionary Guards attacked them with tanks and shot at the protesters, opening the roads with violent force. Young Ahwazi protesters fled into the canebrake to save themselves from the machine guns.[13] But the Guards fired directly at canebrake and then set fire to it, causing wounded young protesters to burn to death.

A few days after this horrific crime, the stench of charred corpses became so strong that it reached the families across the city, causing them to venture outside in the search of their young children’s remains. The canebrake blazed as if it had been cut with a sickle; there was massive bloodshed. Footage shows the grieved families saying, “What was the crime of these deprived people? They had the goal to protest extensive oppression. In which country does the government use tanks and machine guns to face public protests? But here is the Iranian regime where they burned young people alive in the canebrake.”

After more than two weeks of media coverage and under the pressure of public opinion and the widespread dissemination of news and videos about Ma`shour slaughter, Iranian officials finally took responsibility for the massacre, with what amounts to a shrug. Local television effectively admitted to the crime with “no comment”. As usual, while referring to the protesters as foreign stooges and separatists, they said: “The security guards quashed the hooligans’ plot and dismantled the rioters’ scheme who were hidden in the canebrake.”

From the very first day of the uprising, the regime spread suspicions and disinformation about Ma`shour and other Ahwazi areas protests and spoke of a big supposed conspiracy that was foiled. In fact, the regime knew exactly what it had committed in Ma`shour during the first days of the protests and was trying to conceal its bloody hands until the world stopped paying attention. To whitewash its crimes, and to avoid responsibility for the human rights abuses, Tehran tried to justify its slaughter through a defamation campaign against the Ahwazi protests by spreading the news about foiling a large and global conspiracy engineered and funded by Iranian regime arch-enemies such as Israel and the USA in Ahwazi areas, especially Ma`shour.

Notwithstanding the disinformation campaign, it is no secret that most Ahwazis, who have long bitter experience of the regime’s brutality and anti-Arab racism, especially in reaction to any dissent, expected the regime to deploy Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces, with people bracing themselves for the possibility that they would attack demonstrators and, at worst, kill or wound a few more protesters and arrest a few dozen others.   

Having spoken with numerous people from the area, we have managed to piece together a number of accounts of what occurred, both from these conversations and from multiple reports and posts on social media, which were only recently reopened for Iranians after being shut down completely by the regime whilst its forces were perpetrating these crimes.

As one eyewitness explained, nobody was prepared for the brutality that ensured. “Iranian regime forces began to be harassing and attacking and beating the protesters without announcing an advance warning. [This was] while the young men were standing and sitting in the middle of the road demanding their rights to work, life, wealth, security and health. They were ruthless and sprayed the chests of unarmed protesters with bullets. At that time, the poor Arab protesters started falling one to the other on the ground, and then others desperately rushed to the adjacent marshes located near the gathering place, which is located at the entrance of the Jarahi city. These forces did not stop killing and wounding the local people. Rather, they continued shooting indiscriminately at those who were taken cover in the waters and reeds of the marsh. They also fired indiscriminately at neighbouring houses, and this resulted in the largest number of deaths and casualties.”

Another eyewitness explained: “We didn’t care what they said because we thought they were threatening us as they did in the previous demonstrations. But they started randomly firing at the people with machine guns. When the IRGC forces began shooting, people, both women and children, and others fled to the Jarrahi town and some took refuge in the nearby marshes, but the [IRGC troops] shot them indiscriminately without any mercy. Many people were killed in the marshlands and dozens were injured.”

The heinous nature of the crimes committed by Iranian regime forces during the past few weeks against innocent unarmed civilians, including women and children, have caused outrage even among Ahwazi accustomed to the regime’s inhumanity, as well as other people worldwide, with Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, and President Donald Trump condemning the hideous massacre that killed more than 130 people, as well as leaving dozens of wounded and hundreds more detained.[14]

One of the citizens from that city said in an interview that the massacre in Ma’shour was similar to an earlier one in al-Muhammarah city (Khorramshahr) forty years earlier in 1979 by the regime’s forces when Ayatollah Khomeini first came to power, in which over 800 Ahwazi Arab protesters were slaughtered and still missing and hundreds more wounded or arrested and disappeared for ever for demanding self-rule for the Ahwaz region.[15] Many of those detained during that massacre, which subsequently became known as Black Wednesday, are still missing to this day, with women and children once again counted among the victims. 

Several eyewitnesses said that protests had been growing in the city after the suspicious death of a prominent Ahwazi poet assassination of a well-known Ahwazi poet, Hassan Haidari, who died of poisoning shortly after his release from a regime prison; he reportedly told medics and his family that he had been poisoned whilst in custody. A large number of people took to the streets to protest against this and against the regime’s repression and deteriorating conditions in Ma’shour, the regional capital Ahwaz city, as well as in other cities like al-Falahiyeh (Shadegan) and al-Muhammarah. These protests grew and were joined by other large-scale demonstrations across Iran when the regime drastically increased oil prices and thus raising the prices of food and other essentials, adding further pressure on the already struggling people. Other eyewitnesses first noticed the growing protests after the ethnic minority groups around the nation, along with Persian citizens, rose up in response to increased taxes on their oil.

Another eyewitness, who lost many of his relatives in the regime massacre, said that the IRGC forces deployed heavy military equipment in the Jarrahi and Koura districts in Ma’shour while shooting randomly at people. The forces also searched the area with UAV drones and helicopter gunships, he added, explaining that the military forces also brought in other vehicles and weapons, including tanks, in preparation for attacking the Koura district.

Other eyewitnesses provided similar accounts of how the Revolutionary Guards deployed large numbers of troops and militiamen in the city of Ma’shour over the four days between November 15th-19th to crush the protests. All witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of punishment by the Revolutionary Guards, with any communication with external media criminalised by the regime as ‘treason’.

One recollected, “I was looking for my little brother after the massacre in the Jarrahi marshes and saw a number of Revolutionary Guards’ tanks heading to the Koura neighbourhood. We were terrified and the pain was unimaginable after they killed several people in Jarrahi and dozens of others in Khour Mousa.”

Another witness, still traumatised by his experience and what he had seen, explained, “The citizens of  Koura neighbourhood said: ‘We have two options: whether or not we die under torture by the regime or to resist the Revolutionary Guard forces, then the world, especially the United States government, might support our revolution against the repressive and brutal regime.’ Thus, for four days, the protesters succeeded in controlling Koura and Tanideh Street in Jarrahi, and most of the neighbourhoods of the city of Ma’shour, and a number of suburbs of the city. The clashes were fierce, so the IRGC escaped due to the people’s intense resistance and the people were able to control the main road leading to the city and the adjacent petrochemical industrial complex.” The witness broke down in tears, saying, “All the citizens of Ma’shour were awaiting action by the international community to stop any other crime in the city. All the people were waiting for the rapid intervention of the world because this is a heinous crime.”

Local security forces and riot police officers had attempted to disperse the crowd and open the roads, but failed, residents said. Several clashes between protesters and security forces erupted between 15th November and 19th November, but the IRGC failed to control the city.

When Revolutionary Guards reinforcements arrived in the city of Ma’shour on November 19, they prepared to storm the Koura neighbourhood and the other areas of the city. There were violent clashes, and local people were able to control new areas, temporarily. But the disconnection of the internet and the lack of communication between citizens and the world meant the regime forces were able to enter the neighbourhood using tanks and helicopter gunships to mow down anyone attempting to stop them. As a result, many citizens were killed instantly, according to residents interviewed by phone.

A 19-year-old man told us he was shot in one leg on November 19, one day after the regime forces stormed the Koura district, which is among the most impoverished neighbourhoods of Ma’hshor. He said: “I had hope that the world would act to stop the crimes of the regime, but we lost hope after the massacres that took place and the world didn’t even pay attention to what happened”. He confirmed that he could not go to the hospital because the regime had already arrested a number of wounded people there.

Another young woman from the city said that, following the initial attacks by IRGC forces on peaceful protesters, there were running gun battles for several days between IRGC forces and local Arab people, who traditionally keep guns for hunting at home. While hunting weapons are no match for large-calibre machine guns, seeing children mowed down by the IRGC proved too much, and many locals turned to active resistance. She said: “Despite the battles being terrifying, at the same time it gave hope to the citizens that other cities in Iran would revolt forcefully until the brutal regime will be defeated”. I asked her if any member of the Revolutionary Guards were killed in the clashes and she replied in the affirmative, saying, “A large number of them, including a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, were killed in the clashes”.

Human rights organisations reported that one of the unprecedented features of these brutal reprisals by the regime against protesters across Iran was the targeting of children, with at least 18 children, the youngest aged four, being shot dead by IRGC troops and affiliated militias, with several of these in Ma’shor and other Arab cities in Ahwaz.[16]

The identity of the youngest victim, a four-year-old girl reportedly shot dead by IRGC forces in the Jarrahi area of Ma’shour, has not yet been released. Local witnesses say that at least six children and two women were among the victims in the regime’s massacre in the town, though only one, 17-year-old Ahmed Alboali from the Koura neighbourhood, shot dead on November 17, has so far been named.

Among the other child victims identified in the Ahwaz region are 12-year-old Ali Ghazlawi and his brother Khaled, aged 16, who were shot dead in the main square in al-Muhammarah (Khorramshahr), along with 17-year-old Mohsen Mohammadpour.

Another child, 17-year-old Ahmad Ja’awla from the town of Andisheh in Toster (Shooshtar), was reportedly shot dead by the regime’s infamous plainclothes Basij forces, with a phone video of his death being uploaded online. In the regional capital, Ahwaz city, 17-year-old Mujahid Jāmaʿa was killed on November 16th in the Kut Abdullah area, another 17-year-old, Mohammad Berihi, was killed on the 18th, and 16-year-old Reza Neisi was killed on November 19, all shot dead by IRGC forces.

The threat is ongoing, and when the wind blows from the canebrake, it is difficult for anyone to not shudder in fear at what they might smell. The world cannot take its eyes away or limit its investigations into what has already happened. It is still happening, and the regime will not stop unless the world forces it to do so.


Part 2: International Law and Genocide


Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part, as follows: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part 1; imposing measures aimed at preventing births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group’.[17]

Genocide was first recognised as a crime under international law in 1946 by the United Nations General Assembly (A / RES / 96-I). It was classified as an independent crime in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). 149 countries ratified the convention (as of January 2018). The International Court of Justice stated that the convention embodies principles that are part of general customary international law. This means that whether or not states have ratified the Genocide Convention, they are all legally bound by the principle that genocide is a crime prohibited under international law. The International Court of Justice also stated that the prohibition of genocide is a peremptory norm of international law and therefore, no derogation from it is allowed.[18]

The Genocide Convention also states in Article I that the crime of genocide may occur in the context of an international or non-international armed conflict, but also in the context of a peaceful situation. The latter is less common but is still possible. The same article provides for the obligation of the contracting parties to prevent the crime of genocide and punish its perpetrators.[19]

Article 4 of ‘The Genocide Convention’ provides for the punishment of the perpetrators of the genocide or any of the other acts mentioned in Article 2 and 3, whether they are constitutional rulers, public officials, or individuals.[20]

International Human Rights Law:

According to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the right to life is an inherent right of every human being. And the law must protect this right. No one should be arbitrarily deprived of his/her life”. The Human Rights Committee noted that Article 6 declares a right whose interpretation cannot be narrowed. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the right to be free from arbitrary killing may not be restricted, that is, this right cannot be suspended even in emergency situations.[21]

The right to life is considered so fundamental that it can never lawfully be restricted, even in times of war or emergency. The absolute nature of this right does not, however, mean that it is never lawful for the state to kill. What is prohibited is the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life. This means that there are a number of accepted exceptions to the presumption that the state must not kill. These are: The death penalty provided it complies with certain safeguards, Certain killings seen as necessary measures of law enforcement, Certain killings committed in armed conflict.[22]

The right to life may thus be viewed as a continuing duty of the state to create general conditions and systems protecting the right to life, and as a specific duty, to fulfil those conditions and use the systems in each individual case. Each of these elements will be addressed in turn. It is essential, when submitting an allegation of violation of the right to life, to remember to consider all aspects of the potential violation.[23]

In addition to specifying the need for restraint and proportionality in the use of force, the Basic Principles provide that where the use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials are still expected to minimise damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life. They should also ensure that assistance and medical aid are provided to any injured persons as soon as possible, in order to minimise the likelihood of complications or loss of life resulting from the injury.

Crimes Against Humanity:

Unlike other international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity have not been codified in an international treaty, and as the above section describes, the different tribunals charged with the prosecution of crimes against humanity have tended to employ slightly different definitions of the crime. Though Article 10 of the Rome Statute states that the Statute is not to be considered a definitive codification of international criminal law, the definition offered in the Statute does at least reflect the latest consensus of the international community, and at this point in time may be considered the most authoritative definition of crimes against humanity.[24]

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:

Article 7 of "Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" defines Crimes Against Humanity:

‘Crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: Murder; Extermination; Enslavement; Deportation or forcible transfer of population; Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; Torture; Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; Persecution against any identifiable group or collectively on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; Enforced disappearance of persons; The crime of apartheid; Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.[25]

According to Article 7 (1) of the Rome Statute, crimes against humanity do not need to be linked to an armed conflict and can also occur in peacetime, similar to the crime of genocide.

The contextual element determines that crimes against humanity involve either large-scale violence in relation to the number of victims or its extension over a broad geographic area (widespread) or a methodical type of violence (systematic). This excludes random, accidental or isolated acts of violence. In addition, Article 7(2)(a) of the Rome Statute determines that crimes against humanity must be committed in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit an attack. The plan or policy does not need to be explicitly stipulated or formally adopted and can, therefore, be inferred from the totality of the circumstances.

UN Responsibility to Protect:

The responsibility to protect embodies a political commitment to end the worst forms of violence and persecution. It seeks to narrow the gap between Member States’ pre-existing obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and the reality faced by populations at risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

In paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document (A/RES/60/1) Heads of State and Government affirmed their responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and accepted a collective responsibility to encourage and help each other uphold this commitment. They also declared their preparedness to take timely and decisive action, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations, when national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations.[26]

The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.



The Iranian authorities committed a massacre against humanity in accordance with international law in the city of Ma’shour in al-Ahwaz. The Iranian authorities in shooting and using armoured vehicles and tanks to quell a peaceful uprising in the city of Ma’shour, specifically in the Al-Jarrahi district, where more than 130 people were assassinated in a residential area, violated international human rights law. According to Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Iranian authorities committed crimes against humanity. Therefore, it requires the intervention of the international community to stop these crimes against the Ahwazi Arab people.

The Iranian authorities committed the massacre by killing a group of Ahwazi citizens in the Al-Jarahi area of the city of Ma’shour on a national, ethnic, political and security basis with the aim of spreading fear and terror among Ahwazi citizens. The massacre took place against peaceful demonstrators, including children and women, and the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards sent military equipment in a residential area against peaceful protests, killing dozens, arresting hundreds, and besieging a residential neighbourhood in the city of Ma’shour and threatening to forcibly transfer the population, so this is a crime against humanity and a violation of international human rights law and a violation of the Rome Statute.


To punish the perpetrators of these crimes and prevent the recurrence of massacres in Al-Ahwaz requires the intervention of the international community to try criminals in international courts in accordance with Article 7 of the Rome Statute. It requires the trial of the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards in Al-Ahwaz, specifically the city of Ma’shour; and the trial of the commander in chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hussein Salami, who ordered the use of violence against demonstrators in all of Iran, including the city of Ma’shour. It also requires the trial and punishes Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the supreme national security council of Iran, because of the severing of communication between citizens with the world with the aim of committing crimes against humanity. It also requires the trial of Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, who has demanded the cessation of demonstrations in any way including military ways, as the Revolutionary Guards have caused violence and killing in different parts of Iran, such as the city of Ma’shour.

Preventing military flights over Al-Ahwaz, preventing the Revolutionary Guard military bases in the Al-Ahwaz area, entering the peacekeeper forces in Al-Ahwaz and providing security and stability in accordance with international law for Ahwazi citizens, are available solutions to prevent crimes against humanity in Ahwaz. It also requires international investigations led by the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in Al-Ahwaz about the massacre committed by the regime against peaceful citizens in the city of Ma’shour.




Iranian Tank inside the city of Al-Jarrahi in Ma’shor (Ref: Dur Untash)


Iranian military forces shooting Ahwazi in marshlands in al-Jarrahi in Ma’shor (Ref: Iran International)


The city of Ma’shor (Ref: Google Map)


[1] DUR UNTASH. Ahwazis Are Being Slaughtered Silently in Ma`shour Area, [Online] 9th December 2019. See []


[2] Aaron Eitan Meyer is a practicing attorney in the State of New York, consultant, analyst, researcher, and public speaker. He has previously served as a research director for a lawfare organization, and as assistant director of the Legal Project at the Middle East Forum.


[3] Hamid, R. Stealthy Demographic Change In AL-Ahwaz Recalls Apartheid Era [Online] Ahwaz Monitor. 16th September 2016. See [


[4] She is an American lawyer and analyst based in New York. She has written extensively about foreign policy and security issues for a variety of local and international think tanks. Her writing has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Indonesian.


[5] UNPO. Ahwazi Arabs: Protest after Broadcasting Corporation Omits their Ethnicity In TV Program Celebrating Iran’s Diversity and Culture [Online] 29th May 2018. See []


[6] Ardalan, S. BBC Persian [Online] 7th December 2019. See []


[7] Hamid, R. Iran: Cancer cases rising at an alarming pace in Al-Ahwaz [Online] Minority Voices. 15th September 2015. See []


[8] GULF EUROPEAN CENTRE. GECHR condemns the arrest of dozens of Ahwazi in recent protests after the death of the poet [Online] 15th November 2019. See []


[9] Deutsch, A. Sharafedin, B. Ahmad Mola Nissi: Arab nationalist from Iran shot dead in the Netherlands [Online] The Independent. 9th November 2017. See []  


[10] IRAN INTERNATIONAL. Iran Human Rights organization: At least 324 killed in November protests [Online] 20th December 2019. See []


[11] REUTERS. Special Report – Iran’s leader ordered a crackdown on unrest: 'Do whatever it takes to end it' [Online] 23rd December 2019. See []


[12] Hamid, R. The Iranian Regime’s Targeted Assault on Protesting Ahwazi People [Online] Washington Institute. 11 December 2019. See [


[13] RADIO ZAMANEH. [Online] See []


[14] SHARE AMERICA. Iranians massacred in Mahshahr [Online] 6th December 2019. See []


[15] AHWAZ MONITOR. The Untold Story Behind the Seizure of the Iranian Embassy in London [Online] 15th May 2017. See []


[17] UNITED NATIONS. The legal definition of genocide. [Online]. See []


[18] UNITED NATIONS. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. [Online]. See []  


[19] UNITED NATIONS. Genocide. [Online]. See []



[20] OHCHR. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. [Online]. See []




[23] Ibid  


[24] Article 10 of the Rome Statute states: “Nothing in this Part shall be interpreted as limiting or prejudicing in any way existing or developing rules of international law for purposes other than this Statute.”  See also p. 2 of this contribution.


[25] UNITED NATIONS. Crimes Against Humanity. [Online]. See []




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