Reports of the impending execution of five members of the Arab Ahwazi minority in Iran prompted Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning to issue the following statement today (24 January):
“I am extremely troubled by the impending execution of five members of the Arab Ahwazi minority in Iran.
The trial that led to these death sentences lacked transparency. Now the Supreme Court has nonetheless confirmed these dubious sentences. This runs contrary to the principles of the rule of law. It is completely unacceptable and displays a disregard for human dignity.
It is utterly unacceptable to put people on trial for peacefully advocating for cultural rights and political participation in the first place. In doing so, Iran’s judicial system is in breach of international law and Iran’s own constitution.
Iran must protect the rights of its citizens, not oppress them.
I call on Iran to overturn the death penalties and release the sentenced individuals immediately. Iran must respect the human rights of its citizens regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation.”
The Arab Ahwazi minority in Iran are subject to marginalization and discrimination with respect to education, jobs, suitable accommodation, political participation and cultural rights. Ahwazi Arabs are regularly given death sentences or long prison terms by Iran’s judicial authorities for standing up for cultural rights and political participation. Most of the Ahwazi Arabs live in south western Iran. They are on the whole Shiite Muslims, although some have become Sunnis.
Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, all members of an Arab cultural institute in Ramshir, were arrested in 2011 by Iranian security forces in advance of the anniversary of the 2005 Ahwazi Arab protests. In July 2012, the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz found them guilty of the crimes of “enmity against God and corruption on earth”, “conspiring to commit a crime against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. They were sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences, they were handed over to the authority responsible for enforcement, so that the death sentences may now be carried out at any time. On 18 January, relatives of the five men were informed by prison authorities that the men had been transferred from Karoun Prison to an unknown location.