Home | English | News | Inside Iran | Ongoing Wave of Arrests in Khuzestan, Families Unaware of Whereabouts of Detainees

Ongoing Wave of Arrests in Khuzestan, Families Unaware of Whereabouts of Detainees

(April 11, 2013) – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has received reports from local human rights activists which indicate that an estimated 188 Ahwazi Arabs have been arrested throughout Khuzestan province over the last five weeks, including in the cities of Ahvaz, Shadegan and Hamidieh. This latest wave of arrests of Ahwazi Arab citizens coincides with the lead-up to the anniversary of protests that gripped the city of Ahvaz in April 2005. The crackdown additionally suggests increased heavy-handedness in the harassment of all activists in Iran by security forces in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) in advance of this year's presidential election. 

IHRDC has received reports from an informed source that although minors arrested in recent weeks have been released on bail, the whereabouts of many other recent detainees remain unclear. According to a source with close knowledge of the case, five of those detainees are Adnan Haydari, 26, Aghil Haydari, 20, and Ahmad ibn Abed Haydari, 19, all of Kuh Pardis neighborhood in Ahvaz, and Hadi, 24, and Ahmad ibn Farhan Haydari, also 19, of Shahrak Ahvaz neighborhood in Ahvaz (also known as Shahrak Razmandegan). IHRDC's source claims that none of these five detainees had ever engaged in any manner of political activism. Rather, all five were arrested after taking part in an evening of traditional poetry reading. Although the five detainees, all brothers or cousins, had attended the same poetry reading at the home of Ahmad ibn Abed Haydari of Kuh Pardis, they were arrested in three separate operations at their individual homes shortly following the end of the gathering. 

According to the informed source, plainclothes agents of the IRI's Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) accompanied by uniformed regular police in four black Toyota Hi-lux vehicles (a car typically associated with Iran's police force) first raided the home of brothers Hadi and Ahmad ibn Farhan Haydari in Shahrak Ahvaz, a neighborhood adjacent to Kuh Pardis. Reportedly the MOIS agents entered the house without showing a warrant or identificationquickly arrested Hadi and Ahmad without specifying the nature of the charges against them and searched the house. When the search was completed Hadi and Ahmad ibn Farhan were blindfolded, handcuffed, and forced into the authorities' vehicles. 

Next this process was repeated at the Kuh Pardis residence of Adnan and Aghil Haydari and then at the nearby home of Ahmad ibn Abed Haydari. In both cases the authorities also confiscated computers during the search. IHRDC's source suspects that the lack of any history of activism on the part of Aghil, Adnan, Ahmad ibn Abed, Hadi, and Ahmad ibn Farhan Haydari indicates that they were all arrested to exert pressure on a relative who had been active in the April 2005 protests but who has since fled Iran. 

The Haydari families have been unable to determine the whereabouts of the five detained individuals in the weeks since the events of March 26 and all inquiries to local authorities associated with various governmental bodies have been rebuffed. It is unknown whether any of the detainees have been charged with any crimes. Article 32 of the Constitution of the IRI requires that detained persons be "immediately" informed of the charges against them and that formal charges be filed with the relevant courts within 24 hours of arrest. But if charges had been filed, the queries of the Haydari families to the local courts may not have been rebuffed. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the IRI is a signatory, also prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. 

The nature of the arrests suggests that the gathering, which was a regular occurrence that routinely incurred the participation of roughly twenty people but which had no evident political undertones, had been under surveillance and that participants may have followed home by monitoring agents of the state after it ended. If the arrests described are characteristic of the 188 recent arrests of Ahwazi Arabs they represent an intensification of the IRI’s surveillance and suspicion of peaceful gatherings and a disregard for the right to freedom of assembly ensured by Article 27 of the Constitution of the IRI and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.