Amnesty International Calls on Iran Regime to Release Members of Minority That Are Being Unlawfully Held
By Mohammad Sadat Khansari
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called on Iran to release information about the status of hundreds of individuals that are being held by the Iranian regime. These individuals are part of the Ahvazi Arab ethnic minority and have been denied access to lawyers. They have also been unable to contact their families.
There are great concerns that some of the individuals have already been executed.
Amnesty International has been in contact with Ahvazi Arab activists that live abroad and in the past few days they have said that the Iranian regime has secretly killed 22 men, one of whom is Mohammad Momeni Timas, a civil society activist.
The organisation previously reported that hundreds of members of the Ahvazi Arab community had been arrested in the southern province of Khuzestan.
The arrests came just after the attack on a military parade in September in the city of Ahvaz. More than 60 people were injured in the armed attack and at least 24 people were killed.
Amnesty International said that the timing of the arrests is worrying because it appears that authorities in Iran are using the attack on the military parade to justify its unfair treatment of Ahvazi Arabs. The organisation suggested that the arrests are to quash dissent in the province.
Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said: “If confirmed, the secret executions of these men would be not only a crime under international law but also an abhorrent violation of their right to life and a complete mockery of justice, even by the shocking standards of Iran’s judicial system.”
Luther also questioned the treatment of these people since their arrest, pointing out that they have almost certainly not received a fair trial in the weeks since their arrest. Furthermore, they have clearly not had the opportunity to appeal their sentences.
The organisation gave details about one of the individuals – Mr. Ahmad Heydari – who seems to have been executed already. He was a 30-year-old ceramics shopkeeper and was arrested just a few days after the military parade attack.
His family had been trying to get information about his condition and they had no idea where he even was until 11th November. On Sunday, his family were called and told to come to the Ministry of Intelligence’s information centre in Ahvaz. On their arrival there, they were told that Mr. Heydari had been executed three days previously.
The family were given a death certificate and told that they could not hold a memorial service for him. The family were also informed that his body would not be released.
The governor of the province has denied that 22 people have been executed but confirmed that the people arrested with regards to the military parade attack have been charged.
In its statement, the organisation said: “Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of all the detainees without further delay and provide information about what legal procedures have taken place to date. The authorities must give the families and their lawyers access to the detainees and ensure they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment.”
It also said that the Iranian authorities have a duty to release those that have been arrested for their human rights activities. “Amnesty International is also calling on the authorities to release immediately and unconditionally any Ahvazi Arabs held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly or solely on account of their ethnic identity.”