Activists accused of membership of non-existent group
By: Rahim Hamid
Ahwazi rights groups reported that Iranian authorities have transferred two Ahwazi activists previously sentenced to death to the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. Activists warn this means their execution is imminent.
The two Ahwazi men, 34-year-old Abdullah Abdullahi [Karamullah Ka’ab], a married father of three from the Shawur district of Susa (“Shush” in Farsi), and 31-year-old Qassim Beit Abdullah (Kaabi) from the village of Kaab Beit Allawi, were sentenced to death in October 2017 on charges of ‘enmity to God’ and ‘corruption on Earth’ over their alleged membership of a non-existent opposition group.
Activists report that there is no evidence against them and that the group they are accused of belonging to does not, in fact, exist!
Because of this, the Supreme Judiciary in Tehran overturned the original death sentence; however, the prosecutor appealed the verdict to Branch three of the Revolutionary Court using ‘confessions as evidence’. As a result, the Revolutionary Court again sentenced them to death on 31 August 2018. Since then, they have been imprisoned in an exile prison located in Isfahan province, around 517 km from their homes in Ahwaz region. This prevents the prisoners from seeing their families, and is a common tactic used by the Iran regime to demoralise dissidents.
The men’s families have called on international human rights organisations and activists to raise awareness of the two detainees’ plight and to put pressure on the Iran regime to urgently have these unwarranted death sentences overturned. The men’s parents have also pleaded for help from the international community, saying, “Our sons are innocent, and the allegations against them by the Iranian judicial and security authorities are false.”
The two men are amongst eight Ahwazi activists, all from the town of Susa and the surrounding area, who were arrested in a series of raids by Iranian regime security personnel in their family homes on September and 16 October 2015. All eight men were accused under the pretext of being members of an anti-regime group named ‘Jund al-Farouq’ or the ‘Soldiers of Farouq’, which nobody has heard of because it doesn’t exist. Ahwazi human rights activists believe these arrests represent an acceleration of Tehran’s efforts to persecute, torture and murder Ahwazi activists. In addition, they believe the regime uses the arrest campaign as a scapegoat to divert domestic anger about the failing economy and to bolster its narrative both at home and abroad, in which it claims it is protecting Iran from the risk of plots by Ahwazis and other ethnic groups. Its hope is to fabricate imaginary ‘opposition groups’ to justify its increasing brutality towards Ahwazis and thus claim they are posing a risk to ‘national security’.
The other six detainees arrested at the same time as Abdullah Abdullahi and Qassim Beit Abdullah, include Abdullah Abdullahi’s brother and other family members, who have all received lengthy prison sentences ranging from three years to 25 years-to-life. They were transferred to the notorious Masjid Suleiman Prison following an intensive interrogation. They are:
- Hussein Abdullahi, aged 25, Abdullah Abdullahi’s brother, sentenced to three years imprisonment
- Majid Abdullahi, aged 25 respectively, sentenced to three years imprisonment
- Issa Abdullahi, aged 31 respectively, sentenced to three years imprisonment
- Ahmed Abdullahi, aged 30, a poet from Sousa, sentenced to 25 years- imprisonment
- Majed Bait Abdullah, 23, from Khalaf Moslem village, sentenced to 25 years imprisonment
- Hassoun [Hassan] Bait Abdullah [Karamullah Ka’ab], Abdullah Abdullahi’s brother, aged 31, from the village of Derjal, sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
All of these men have reportedly been subjected to torture and forced to sign false confessions admitting to being founders of the aforementioned nonexistent anti-regime group.
The regime’s violations of human rights in Ahwaz are now so systematic and widespread that many Ahwazis now bleakly joke that there are no rights left to violate. Prisons are overflowing with dissidents and prisoners of conscience. Rising protests and public anger towards the Iranian regime due to its mismanagement of the economy have resulted in even more extreme measures against Ahwazis.
The cases of Abdullah Abdullahi, Qassim Beit Abdullah and other imprisoned, innocent Ahwazis need to be raised by international governments as well as human rights organisations around the world. More pressure urgently needs to be put on the Iran regime to stop these brutal violations. The UN also have an obligation to uphold their Convention on Human Rights and should be called on to condemn what is happening to Ahwazis in Iran. Since 2005, when Ahwazis rose up against their oppression, over 70 Ahwazi activists have been brutally executed by the regime, and this has been largely met with silence from media and human rights organisations. This must change.
Rahim Hamid is an Ahwazi author, freelance journalist and human rights advocate. You can follow him on his twitter account.