Peaceful protesters shot dead, many arrested
Mass demos against Tehran’s ethnic, political, economic & cultural oppression
London – 21 April 2011
“Arab protests against dictatorship have erupted in Iran, with mass demonstrations since 15 April in the Arab region of south west Iran, centred on the city of Ahwaz,” reports human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The protesters are commemorating previous massacres by the Iranian authorities and demanding democracy and human rights: including regional self-government, better housing, education reforms and a share of the vast locally-produced oil wealth for their impoverished region.
“They are also calling for freedom of assembly, press freedom, free speech, linguistic freedom and freedom of religion. The Persian and Shia-dominated rulers in Tehran discriminate against Sunni Muslims and restrict the public use of the Arab language.
“Since last Friday, up to 15 protesters have been shot dead by the security forces, with many more wounded and arrested, according to reports from Al Arabiya News http://tiny.cc/tjil2 and the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network. http://bit.ly/i4zCYX
“Nobel Peace Prize-winning Iranian human rights defender, Shirin Ebadi, has urged the UN to help prevent the shooting of peaceful protesters. She has condemned Tehran’s long-standing persecution of its Arab and Sunni minority. http://bit.ly/ij1gry
“Amnesty International has called for an independent and impartial investigation into the killings. http://tiny.cc/o16mg It cites reports that over 200 Arab activists and community leaders were arrested in advance of the protests in a bid to thwart public dissent.
“Reporters without Borders have accused Iran of hypocrisy for reporting the Arab uprisings across the Middle East but not the Arab protests within its own borders. http://tiny.cc/bp3fr
“Arabs comprise 70% of the population of the south-west province of Khuzestan, which the Arabs call Ahwaz. Iran’s abuse of its Ahwazi Arab population is far worse than the Israeli abuse of Palestinian Arabs, yet it provokes little international outrage and no protests in the Arab or western world. The Arab League is silent.
“This abuse includes the execution of Arab rights campaigners, most of who have been convicted solely on the basis of confessions extracted under torture and after unfair trials that have been condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“Ahwazi Arab political parties, trade unions and student groups are illegal. Arab candidates have been barred from standing for election. The moderate reformist Wefagh Party was banned for expressing Arab grievances, despite using lawful and constitutional means.
“Ahwaz produces 90% of Iran’s oil and 10% of OPEC’s global output. Tehran expropriates 100% of its oil revenues. A bid by Ahwaz MPs to secure the repatriation of a mere 1.5% of these earnings back to the region for expenditure on social welfare projects has been rejected four times by the Iranian government. The result? Ahwaz is the region of Iran with the third greatest level of poverty,” said Mr Tatchell.
Read this background information about Iran’s racist persecution of its Arab minority population: