Concurrent with the execution of four Iranians in Saudi Arabia, and despite warnings by human rights activists and institutions, four Ahwazi Arab prisoners — Taha Heidarian, Abdolrahman Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian, and Ali Sharifi — were secretly executed by the Iranian authorities. The prisoners — three of them brothers — were arrested following civil unrest and protests in April 2011 in Ahwaz (the capital of the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan). According to reliable reports, the Heidarian brothers and Ali Sharifi were charged and convicted of Moharebeh (waging war against God) after they had given confessions under torture. They were denied fair trials or any other legal proceedings, and their most basic rights as political prisoners were violated. Furthermore, their bodies were not returned to their families and civil protests in objection to their executions were suppressed.
Many of the Arab prisoners are held in security detention centers in the province of Khuzestan or in prisons across Iran. There is particular concern surrounding the unclear statuses of the other Ahwazi Arab political prisoners who share the same case file as the Heidarian brothers and Ali Sharifi.
The death penalty in Iran, and in particular executions carried out in public, is a tool to spread fear, promoting a culture of violence among people. Ethnic and religious minorities, which have been marginalised as a result of systematic discrimination, are often the primary targets of the Iranian authority’s lawless system.
The right to life is the most fundamental human right. The denial of this right makes it impossible to uphold any other human right. We, the undersigned, condemn the execution of the four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners and urge human rights defenders and organisations to reflect the voices of those on death row in Iran and act immediately to save their lives.
We welcome the recent joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteurs condemning the executions and urge the United Nation’s Human Rights Council to react to these executions by issuing a statement. We also urge the UN General Secretary Bang Ki Moon to give urgent attention to the issue of arbitrary executions in Iran.
The Campaign in Support of Imprisoned Ahwazi Arabs Condemned to Death
1. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel prize laureate
2. Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation
3. Arseh Sevom (Third Space)
4. Center for Combating Racism and Discrimination against Arabs in Iran (CCRDAI)
5. Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR)
6. European Ahwazi Human Rights Organization
7. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
8. Iran Human Rights
9. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
10. Justice for Iran NGO
11. Kurdish Human Rights Association
12. Kurdish Human Rights Network
13. SAWASYA Centre for Human Rights and Combating Discrimniation
14. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
15. The Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran