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A senior Iranian regime judiciary official has issued the final confirmation of the death penalty for three Ahwazi rights activists, with another four sentenced to between 25 and 35 years in prison, as well as exile.

Gholam-Hossein Mohsen Eie’I, the First Deputy Head of the Iranian regime’s Judiciary, confirmed the sentences in an interview with the regime-affiliated Moj News Agency, adding that the sentences issued by the ‘Revolutionary Court’ in Ahwaz had been upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court in Tehran on appeal.

Three of the defendants, Qais Obeidawi, Ahmad Obeidawi and Sajad Obeidawi were sentenced to death by public execution. Of the other four, Mohammed Helfi and Mehdi Moarabi were sentenced to 35 years each, to be served in exile from the Ahwaz region (also known as ‘Khuzestan province’, the name it was given in 1936) in a prison in the city of Yazd, while Mehdi Sayahi and Ali Obeidawi were sentenced to 25 years each imprisonment. It should be noted that the four prisoners sentenced to lengthy prison terms were exiled to prisons outside the Ahwaz region in June of 2015.

The seven men were arrested in April of 2015 in the city of Hamidieh in the Ahwaz region on charges of killing an Iranian policeman at a checkpoint. They were subjected to kangaroo trials held in secret without being allowed any access to lawyers, a flagrant violation of international laws and conventions. The prisoners have also been prevented from having any contact with their families since their detention.

Human rights activists in Ahwaz, who strongly suspect that the men were tortured into confessing to the crime, a standard regime policy towards detainees, have demanded that the United Nations’ International Council on Human Rights intervene to prevent the executions from taking place, warning that they are expected to be carried out imminently.

The Iranian regime has stepped up its already brutal oppression of Ahwazi Arabs and other minorities in Iran under the administration of the “moderate reformist” President Hassan Rouhani. Since coming to power in 2013, Rouhani has presided over the execution of at least 1,800 people as well as public beatings, floggings, and amputations.

The real number of the regime’s victims is believed to be far higher than the publicly admitted figure, with many executions reportedly unannounced. With Ahwazi Arabs and other minorities increasingly viewed as a threat to the Islamic Republic’s leadership’s consolidation of a homogenous Persian Shiite nation, the theocratic regime is stepping up its already brutal repression in an effort to crush dissent, as well as implementing a policy of population transfer within Ahwaz as a means of changing the demographic composition of the region.

The rights groups pointed out that the primary goal of such executions is to intimidate further and terrorise Ahwazi Arabs into silence and submission following a wave of protests for freedom and human rights which have swept the Ahwazi, Baluchi, and Kurdish regions.

It is imperative that international human rights organisations and the United Nations put pressure on the Iranian regime to force it to desist from its systematic violence and oppression against Ahwazis and other minorities, and to respect the fundamental human and civil rights of Ahwazi Arabs, including the right to be educated in their own Arabic language, which they are currently denied, as well as the rights to employment, freedom of expression, free assembly and free association, as enshrined in international law.

We urge all human rights organisations and all peoples of good conscience worldwide to raise their voices and to contact their political representatives in order to force the Iranian regime to abandon its unconscionable state-sanctioned policies of racial segregation, oppression and brutality, and to free all prisoners of conscience and individuals detained simply for participating in peaceful demonstrations.

Remaining silent in the face of such monstrous crimes against humanity should no longer be considered an option. In the words of Italian-American human rights activist Ginetta Sagan, silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.’

Rahim Hamid Ahwazi Arab freelance journalist based in the USA

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