IRAN: SEVEN AHWAZI ARABS FACING EXECUTION
October 6, 2009: Seven Ahwazi Arab opposition activists have been sentenced to death in secret trials in Iran's Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz City, according to reports from the IranPress news service and the Human Rights Activists in Iran group.
The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) identified the men as Ali Saedi (25), Valid Naisi (23), Majid Fardipour (Mahawi) (26), Da'iar Mahawi (50), Maher Mahawi (21), Ahmad Saedi, (28), Yousef Leftehpoor (25). Some of the men are known cultural rights activists.
Two others, Sayed Morteza Musawi and Adnan Biat, have been sentenced to two and three and a half years imprisonment, respectively.
Arrested in August 2007, all men have been held for months in solitary confinement in Ahwaz's notorious Karoon prison, where many Ahwazi Arab political prisoners have been tortured and executed.
As is typical of Revolutionary Court proceedings against political activists, they were denied access to a lawyer. The initial charges against all nine men were conversion from Shi'ism to Sunnism, followed by charges related to the assassination in June 2007 of Shi'ite radical pro-regime cleric Hashem Saimari and for 'acting against national security.'
Saimari was renowned for his fiery and sometimes violent rhetoric against Sunni Muslims, who he claimed were heretics. He was involved in recruiting Ahwazi youth into the Bassij paramilitary forces and was a local spokesman for hardliners in the Iranian regime. He was a known agent of the Iranian intelligence services while serving as the imam of Zahraa mosque in the Hey al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City.
No Ahwazi Arab group claimed responsibility for the assassination and no evidence was produced to substantiate the government's charges against the men, who denied all charges of involvement in armed struggle and murder. (Sources: Ahwaz.org.uk, 06/10/2009)