The Iranian regime has stepped up its latest campaign of arrests against Ahwazi Arab activists, arresting a poet, Arif Nawaseri, from Falahiyeh city on October 4, while another activist, identified as 34-year-old Amer Silawi, was detained the following night.
Nawaseri, a poet from Falahiyeh, was arrested by regime intelligence agents while returning to his home in Falahiyeh (a.k.a. Shadeghan) after reading Arabic poetry at a funeral wake in the Ghalet Canaan neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city of Ahwaz for two young men executed by regime authorities.
According to one of his relatives who asked not to be named, Arif was transferred to a hospital in the capital city of Ahwaz, after being subjected to severe torture at the hands of Iranian intelligence service.
Silawi, meanwhile, was seized at around 10 p.m. the following night in the Kot Abdullah neighbourhood of Ahwaz City by masked regime agents and taken to an unknown location.
None of his family have heard from him since his arrest, and the regime did not release details of his whereabouts or of the charges against him.
According to Ahwazi human rights activists sources, Amer Silawi, who is married with children, is active in raising awareness about Ahwaz’s Arab history, culture, language, and identity, with activists involved in these activities targeted by the regime for years. These activists face draconian penalties simply for speaking out against the endemic human rights which Ahwazis are subjected to, often facing long-term imprisonment.
Silawi was also involved in a recent protest against the water shortages afflicting Ahwazis, which have intensified after the regime dammed the region’s main river, the Karoon, and diverted its waters to Isfahan and other Persian cities, with protesters forming a human chain to protest peacefully against this injustice.
He was also involved in encouraging young Ahwazis to take pride in wearing their traditional Arab garb, as well as distributing garments and fabric free of charge to the poorest peoples in the region on Eid al-Fitr and other major national and religious holidays to allow them to have the new clothes that are a central part of the Eid celebrations for Muslims.
Despite the regime’s claims of solidarity with Palestinians and other Arab peoples, Tehran’s deep anti-Arab prejudice extends to all areas of Ahwazi culture, with Ahwazis forbidden by law from being educated in their Arabic mother tongue, and even from wearing their traditional Arab clothing in public, whether at work, at school or even at sporting events.
The Ahwazi people’s struggle to maintain their Arab culture and heritage is a triumph over systemic injustices and unimaginably harsh conditions which are maintained by Tehran in a very deliberate effort to force them to accept subjugation and abandon their Arab identity.
Despite regular protests to the international community throughout this period about the racist policies and countless injustices inflicted on the Ahwazi people by successive Iranian regimes, the world has remained silent and indifferent to their suffering, instead offering a tacit endorsement of Iran’s continuing brutal occupation and apartheid anti-Arab policies in Al-Ahwaz. Indeed, following President Obama’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, the international community is apparently rushing to embrace the ayatollahs, with many Western institutions and companies keen to do business with Tehran, encouraging and strengthening its brutality towards Ahwazis and other minorities in Iran.