On 11 January, UN Human Rights experts call on Iran to halt execution of seven Arab-Iranians, as UN-Truth reported that day. The families of the seven men had been notified by Iranian authorities on Monday 8 January that the executions would be carried out within the next few days. In mid-December, three other Arab-Iranians were executed, after their conviction in a secret trial of all ten men.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council had previously expressed its strong concern about that trial.
On 24 January, the BBC World Service reported that four of the seven condemned men had been executed: “Iran has publicly hanged four men convicted of taking part in deadly bombings in the south-western city of Ahwaz last year. The blasts at a bank and the office of the governor killed eight people and injured at least 45 others. Iran originally blamed British troops based just over the border in Iraq. Ahwaz, in Khuzestan province, is home to a large community of ethnic minority Arabs and has simmered with anti-government tension since 2005. The executions were carried out at the city’s jail in front of the victims’ families. Last month Iran said it had hanged three people convicted of involvement in the attacks. In November 2005 protests erupted in Ahwaz after ethnic Arabs accused authorities of discrimination. Two other people have already been executed over attacks in Ahwaz in October of the same year that killed six people and wounded almost 100 more.”
The BBC report on the hanging of the Ahvazis is here.
[Note: The BBC uses the word Ahwaz, a variation of the word Ahvaz, which is the more Persian way to refer to this region]
On 1 February, the Associated Press reported that: “Germany, which holds the European Union presidency, criticized last week’s execution in Iran of four alleged Arab separatists convicted of bombings that killed dozens of civilians. A German statement on Thursday said the EU ‘deplores the execution’ and has raised with authorities in Teheran ‘its concerns about the conduct of the trial that led to these sentences and the defendants’ lack of access to lawyers.’ It also urged Iran to halt the executions of three other men and give them a ‘fair and public hearing’.”
This report was published in the Jerusalem Post here.
Nothing has been heard yet from the UN Human Rights experts.
Meanwhile, Helena Cobban has posted something on her blog which offers some insights into the situation in Ahvaz: “February 4, 2007 – Whither the Shiite-Sunni ‘split’ “ — “When Saddam invaded Iran in September 1980, he and his people were betting (as some neocons do once again today) that they could rely on the anti-Persian sentiments of many of Iran’s non-Persian nationalities… Including crucially, the allegedly pro-Baghdad sentiments of those millions of ethnic Arabs who populate Iran’s Ahvaz region, to the east of the Shatt al-Arab. (Very productive oil territory, too.) But it didn’t work. Back in the 1980s some combination of ‘national’ (i.e. pan-Iranian) and sectarian (Shiite) allegiance proved strong enough to overcome any tendency the Ahvaz Arabs might have had towards ethnic solidarity with Baghdad. They didn’t rise against the mullahs’ regime in Teheran. And nor did any of the other peripheral ethnic minorities whom Saddam had been relying on…”
Helena Cobban’s Blog is here.