Freed from jail after three months of torture and ill-treatment, the Ahwazi Arab poet is greeted by cheering relatives and supporters.
The well-known and widely respected Ahwazi poet Ahmed Sabhan, who was arrested by the Iranian occupying authorities on April 15th, 2015 for reciting a poem, was released from prison yesterday, July 13 after having been imprisoned for three months.
He was held under administrative detention – which is a term used by the Iranian occupying authorities to hold Ahwazi Arab activists without certain charges or real trial – for three months, since the masked agents of the intelligence service took him from his workplace on April 15th. During this period, his family members were denied visiting rights that caused them to be in dark and in despair over the whereabouts and wellbeing of their beloved.
His arrest came after Sabhan recited a poem at a peaceful gathering held by Arab Ahwazis in support of Operation Decisive Storm and its mandate to restore order to Yemen and reinstate the country’s legitimate presidency.
Sabhan’s brave act falls within the universal human right to freedom of conscience and expression, it is very clear from his pictures which were taken before and after his arrest that he was apparently subjected to extreme torture while in custody.
In an interview with Ahwazna, Abdul Karim Khalaf Dohimi, the prominent Ahwazi human rights advocate, said; “After suffering more than three months of torture in Iranian regime prisons, the celebrated Ahwazi poet Ahmed Sabhan was released temporarily on massive bail on Sunday July 12th in order to be transferred to hospital for urgent medical treatment of damage to his spine and kidneys sustained under torture during his detention. The regime’s Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz has not yet issued a final verdict in the case of Sabhan, whose popularity as a poet writing about subjects including Ahwazi Arab freedom and human rights saw him charged by the regimewith “propaganda” and being a “danger to national security.”
“With Eid al-Fitr approaching as Ramadan draws to a close, the Iranian regime has introduced even more severely repressive policies than usual in Al-Ahwaz to curb any possible protests by Ahwazi human rights activists, imposing martial law and curfews on the entire Ahwazi Arab populated areas and have repeatedly targeted the district of Hay Al-Thawra, which has been a hotbed of intifada against the occupying regime in recent years in an effort to prevent demonstrations”.
He added; “mass atrocities and the cycle of violence conducted against Ahwazi Arab people by the Iranian occupying regime forces have intensified during the month of Ramadan. Over 25 Ahwazi Sunni Arab residents were arrested, blindfolded and handcuffed before being subjected to brutal public beating by the Persian occupying security forces. They were then taken to an unknown location, and it is feared that many of those Ahwazi Sunni detainees along with Ahwazi political arrestees may have been tortured or ill-treated at the hands of sinister agents of the regime”.
He said; “we call on the international community, the United Nations, and human rights organizations that protect the rights of poets and intellectuals to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the rest of the Ahwazi prisoners”.
According to Ahwazi eyewitnesses, “the Ahwazi Arab residents are living under semi- curfew, afraid of leaving their homes while security forces are opening fire with live rounds on any gathering, especially against Ahwazi Sunni worshipers who want to hold prayer gatherings”.
In the past few years, any protest by Ahwazi Arab residents in Al-Ahwaz is always followed by a wave of summary and judicial executions. Sometimes bodies of those Ahwazi Arab protesters who have ‘disappeared’ have been found in the river of Karoon with signs of severe torture.
This new wave of arbitrary arrests is designed to intimidate and terrorize the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population into silence. Although the Ahwazi Arab homeland is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world and represents up to 90 percent of Iran’s oil production, the Ahwazi community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. For decades, Ahwazis are subjected to harsh repression and racial discrimination and are faced with forcible land confiscation, forced displacement, and forced assimilation.