Iranian intelligence officers arrested a 59-year-old Ahwazi woman in her home in the city of Shush, apparently in an effort to intimidate one of her sons, a freedom activist now living in Europe, into silence and to stop him from speaking out against the regime.
The masked officers reportedly stormed the home of Basneh Dabbat and her husband Ali on the night of September 6 with no prior warning and took her away without announcing any charges or giving any reasons for the arrest. They also threatened her husband, Ali they would confiscate his properties, including four homes and shops. Another of the couple’s sons is already in prison for writing poetry celebrating Ahwazi culture and participating in cultural activities.
Her second son, Mohammad Dabbat, who recently arrived in Europe after fleeing Ahwaz in fear for his life due to his cultural and political activism for the Ahwazi cause, said that arrest of his mother and attempts to intimidate his family stemmed from the regime’s anger at his activism and were an effort to force his family to pressurise him into abandoning his activities in support of Ahwazi freedom.
The couple’s other son, Ahmad, was arrested in December 2011 following widespread protests, during a period when angry graffiti appeared on walls across the region urging the long oppressed people to boycott the parliamentary elections. During this period, nine Ahwazi activists in the city of Shush, including Ahmad Dabbat, were arrested by regime intelligence services personnel, subjected to brutal torture and long terms in solitary confinement, and forced to sign false confessions before being sentenced to long prison terms.
Ahmad Dabbat, who is married with one young daughter, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and exiled to the province of Yazd. Ahmad, who had nurtured a passion for poetry and literature since childhood, wrote poetry about Ahwazi politics and culture, amongst other issues, which were widely popular, viewing poetry as a way to reach out to the people. The regime, which views poetry and any celebration of Ahwazi culture as a threat to its own absolute control, first arrested him when he was 18 years old. Among the barbaric torture, he was subjected to by the regime for his peaceful activism was having his fingernails pulled out and, reportedly, suffering a fractured jaw and broken bones.