October 15, 2007    No. 07119

    P.O. Box 679, Lorton, Virginia 22199 USA

 asc@ahwazstudies.org   Fax 703.266.0330  www.ahwazstudies.org 

. Urgent Appeal

Halt the Imminent Execution of 6 more Ahwazi-Arabs


To: Ms. Louise Arbour , United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,

UNOG-OHCHR, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland


We are writing to inform you of the imminent execution of six more ethnic Arab-Iranians (Ahwazi-Arabs) in Ahwaz, provincial capital of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran - homeland to 5 million Ahwazi-Arabs.[1] [2] The news of their impending executions has come from their families, the Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Amnesty International, the Human Rights & Democracy Activists group and from Mr. Musa Pirbani, Khuzestan’s prosecutor. The planned executions are the latest in a series of executions. The most recent occurred on 10 September, when three Ahwazis were executed just days after your visit to Iran and on the first day of Ramadan.


The six men currently awaiting execution were moved to a cell in Karoon prison in Ahwaz reserved for imminent execution of prisoners, according to their families. Their names are as follows: 

1.      Rasoul Ali Mazrea (56), a UNHCR-registered refugee, married with 6 children

2.      Ahmad Marmazi, (35), resident of Ma’shur, father of 2 children (Son-in-law of Rasoul Mazrea)

3.      Hamzah Sawari, 20 years old (his 2 brothers were executed last year )

4.   Zamel Bawi (He is in jail with his 3 other brothers)

5.      Abdulemam Zaeri, 17 years old, student

6.      Nazem Boryhi,

Mr. Rasoul Mazrea, along with 4 other Ahwazis, was deported on May 2006 by the Syrian government to Iran. He is a mandate holding, UNHCR recognized political refugee. His family was resettled to Oslo, Norway, while he was extradited to Iran under pressure from the Iranian Government.

The charges against them include hoisting the Ahwazi flag, naming their children Sunni names, converting from Shi'ism to Sunnism, preaching Wahabbism and being “Mohareb” or enemies of god, which carries death sentence. Other charges are “destabilizing the country”, “attempting to overthrow the government”, “possession of improvised explosives”, “sabotage of oil installations” “Stooges of the West, U.S., Israel, UK” and being a “threat to national security.”

Last year, Mr. Emadeldin Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights activist, in a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, argued that the trials of Ahwazi Arabs were flawed, the charges baseless, and that the sentencing was based on a spurious interpretation of law and that no evidence has been presented.[3]  Mr. Nkbakht, a prominent defense lawyer in Iran, made a similar statement. Others such as Presidency of the European Council, the UN general Assembly, 48 British MPs, the EU Parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned their trials as unjust and unfair and appealed for  a halt to further execution.[4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

This new wave of execution is the latest in a series of barbaric hangings, designed to intimidate and terrorize the indigenous Ahwazi-Arab population into submission.

On 10 January 2007, independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Mr. Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture, issued a joint statement urging the Iranian Government to "stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing.”[9] Despite that plea, on 14 February, 2007 Ghasem Salami, 41, married with 6 children, Majad Albughbish, 30, single, were executed in Ahwaz  by public hanging and a day later Mr. Risan Sawari, a 32 years old Ahwazi-Arab teacher was killed under torture in Karoon prison.

This is in addition to four executions on 24 January 2007 (Mohammad Chaabpour, Abdolamir Farjolah Chaab, Alireza Asakereh and Khalaf Khanafereh) and three on 19 December 2006 (Malek Banitamim, Abdullah Solaimani  and Ali Matorizadeh). This brings the number of executions of Ahwazi Arab political and human rights activists in the past 9 months to at least 13.


The executions are in the context of a brutal clamp-down on Ahwazi Arabs protesting against ethnic discrimination and persecution. Although the Ahwazi Arab homeland in Iran's Khuzestan province is one of the most oil-rich regions in the world and represents up to 90 per cent of Iran's oil production, the community endures extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. Ahwazis are subjected to repression, racial discrimination and faced with land confiscation, forced displacement and forced assimilation.


We appeal to you to condemn the latest wave of execution and call upon Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of the others. We also appeal to you to call upon Iran to ensure due legal process in accordance with internationally recognized standards and to uphold its obligations with regard to civil and political rights, including the provision of equal rights to ethnic, religious and minority groups in Iran- such as the indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs.

For further information, please see a dossier of other human rights violations against indigenous and ethnic Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran: http://www.ahwazmedia.com/dossier.pdf

Karim Abdian, PhD
Executive Director
Ahwaz Human Rights Organization


[1] http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article4711

[2] http://pejvakzendanyan.blogfa.com/post-108.aspx

[3] http://www.emadbaghi.com/en/archives/000761.php

[4] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/92611.pdf

[5] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130052007?open&of=ENG-IRN

[6] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130852006?open&of=ENG-392

[7] http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/11/11/iran14560.htm

[8] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/26/iran13609.htm

[9] http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/2007/01/unhcr-iran-must-stop-executions-of.html