On Monday, April 16th dozens of relatives of Ahwazi detainees gathered in front of the offices of the provincial governor and the Ministry of Justice in Ahwaz City to demand information from the local authorities on the whereabouts of their sons and daughters. The arrests were the result of the repression of peaceful protests that erupted in almost every city and town of Alahwaz region, against a racist broadcast on state tv that insulted Arab identity.
The demonstrators appealed to the local authorities, as well as to the world’s human rights organisations to put pressure on the regime, to release the detainees, and to allow immediate access for families to see detained loved ones.These families also requested the authorities disclose the fate of their sons and daughters, who have been detained for two weeks following the crackdown on the peaceful protests, which were sparked by a pro-regime tv ad that denied the existence of Ahwazi Arabs in their historic homeland.
Although most of the demonstrations remained peaceful, and the demonstrators only demanded that the authorities apologize for their misconduct and recognize the Arab identity of the territory, the regime security forces brutally attacked protestors, indiscriminately arresting large numbers of men, women, teens, workers, students, intellectuals, artists, elderly people and so on. Some human rights sources report the arrest of more than 500 Ahwazi across the province.
While the authorities have so far refused to answer the families’ requests for information on the whereabouts of the detainees, some reports from inside Iran suggested the detainees have been subjected to harsh interrogations, beatings and forced confessions. Among those detained are people suffering from illnesses, but their families were not permitted to bring medication to them, literally putting their lives at risk.
A few human rights reports also raised grave concerns that the security forces want to punish Arab protesters by imposing huge and unbearable fines on them, in order to silence their voices in Iran and extinguish all peaceful movement in the region.