Torture, repression mount as Ahwazi protests get tougher



Arab people across Ahwaz region are continuing their mass protests against the policies of the Iranian regime.

The protesters in al-Zawia district raised placards demanding the release of political prisoners and stopping the schemes aimed to change the demographic makeup in the Arab region.

Social media users posted videos showing protesters chanting slogans denouncing the practices of the regime and its incessant attempts to annihilate the identity of the Arab people of Ahwaz.

According to the Ahwazi activist Karim Dahimi, the Iranian intelligence forces arrested about 400 Ahwazi protesters, including 15 children. Other activists put the number of detainees at around 500.

Official tallies suggest over 15 people have been killed since the outbreak of demonstrations

He added the protests are still ongoing in most of the Ahwazi cities and districts, warning against assassinations that could be carried out by the regime to quash the uprising of the Ahwazis.

 The Ahwazi activists warned the regime of causing any harm to the detainees, calling for releasing them immediately.

 The Ahwazi activists also greeted the Ahwazi women, youths, women, pundits and tribal leaders for revolting against the Iranian regime.

 They called on the Arab and Islamic brotherly countries, international organizations and the international community to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ahwaz by pressing Iran to release the detainees and to stop repression, tyranny, and injustice against the people of Ahwaz.

The situation in Ahwaz is utterly acute since the regime's repression is on the rise as he faces strong protests across Ahwaz.

The regime security forces have brutally assaulted protesters, beating them harshly in the city of Kut Abdullah. They were transported by a police vehicle to one of the regime's jails.

The beginning

The protests started after Arabs were insulted on national television. On the second day of the Nowruz, on March 23, Channel 2 broadcasted a children’s show to mark Iran's ethnic diversity, but the Ahwazi Arabs were not on the map, and instead, a Lur male and female doll was placed on Ahwaz’s map.

The first protests began with a gathering of thousands of Arab citizens in the city of Ahwaz, on Wednesday morning March 28, 2018, in front of IRIB building (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) in Ahwaz demanding an apology.

In the following days, the protests spread to other cities such as Abadan, Muhammarah, Ma’shour, Falahiyeh, Dar Khawain, Koura, Shaibah, Al Eyen, Qal'at Kanaan, Kut Abdullah, and other regions to denounce the anti-Arab wave of racism in Ahwaz particularly and in Iran generally.

Media focus

This comes as multiple news media worldwide cast light on the protests of the Ahwazis and their refusal of the regime's repression and indiscriminate arrests.  

The Washington Post reported that Friday prayer leader in Ahwaz, Ayatollah Mohsen al-Haidari, a member of the Iranian expert council, had asked Iran's official television to apologize to the country's Arab minority for insulting them in one of its shows following the Ahwazi protests.

The newspaper cited the reports of the Associated Press and the foreign media about the protests in the Iranian media, pointing to the silence of the local media on this issue.

The report pointed to the problems experienced by residents of the oil-rich province of Ahvaz, especially high unemployment rates, which is close to 15%, which is higher than the average unemployment in Iran, equivalent to 12.6%, according to official Iranian tallies.

In a related context, the account of the "electronic communication" of the US Department of State on Twitter, followed up on the development of protests in Ahwaz throughout the days of demonstrations and posted videos featuring the demonstrations.

On their Twitter account, the team wrote: "Arabs in the province of Ahwaz continued for the second week in a row, their demonstrations against the Iranian regime and its attempts to change the demographic makeup in the region.

 In another Twitter post, the account published a video showing protests in Ahwaz demonstrating against what activists described as "repressive Iranian regime practices" and the deployment of military reinforcements in the province.

Condemned repression

 Ahwazi rights groups called on the Iranian authorities to release the detainees arrested in the protests, 12 days after the demos began. The number of detainees reached 400.

 The Ahwazi rights groups condemned what it described as the "continued repression of peaceful protests" and expressed deep concern over the health of the detainees and warned that they may be tortured by the Iranian security services.

 They yet called upon United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and all other human rights organizations to report on the matter and pressure the Iranian government to stop its destruction of indigenous marshes and sources of income in Ahwaz and put an end to systematic discrimination and racism practiced by the Iranian government and its media IRIB.

 Ahwazi rights activists also posted a video showing the moment when security forces, as well as intelligence personnel dressed in civilian clothes, making mass arrests of young Arab protesters who were being beaten and insulted in the neighborhood of Kut Abdullah in the city of Ahwaz.

A video posted online by activists shows security force taking off an Arab man’s #Kufieh and #Agal from his head at a checkpoint. Other forms of racism have been witnessed in different cities. Ahwazi Arabs who have been wearing their traditional clothes in the street as a sign of protest say they feel threatened when they go out wearing #Dishdasheh these days.

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