Ahmad Kaabi, a political prisoner in Ahwaz, was tortured so severely after his detention for attending a protest in 2011 that he has suffered permanent spinal damage that leaves him in constant, excruciating pain, exacerbated by constant mental and physical abuse by regime prison personnel.
According to the Ahwaz Centre for Human Rights, for three months following his arrest at age 22, Kaabi, an activist from the Ahmadabad district near the town of Shush, was subjected to horrific torture by officers from the Iranian regime’s infamous intelligence services at one of their notorious ‘black site’ prisons in the region. He was then sentenced at a typically brief kangaroo trial in a ‘revolutionary court’ in Ahwaz to 15 years imprisonment on vague charges of acting against the regime, after which he was transferred to the notorious prison in Kerman province.
The physical effects of that torture left Kaabi crippled, with a number of vertebrae fractured and otherwise damaged. The constant pain and illness resulting from his spinal and other injuries, along with the inadequate rations in prison, also left Kaabi severely malnourished. Despite all these medical problems and the constant harrowing pain, he received no medicine or medical treatment until a brief respite after six-and-a-half years in 2018 when his family finally managed to persuade prison officials to allow him on a 15-day release from the prison for desperately needed medical treatment. Even then, the regime showed its customary lack of any compassion, with an appeal judge reducing this to 10 days in the last week.
During the 10-day period, doctors who examined him prescribed medication and a course of treatment for his injuries and illness; when he was returned to Kerman Prison, however, the prison management refused to allow him to continue the treatment or have access to medication. According to other inmates in the same infamous prison he has also been singled out for persecution and harassment by the staff there. According to recent reports, he has now been transferred to the wing of the prison reserved for dangerous mentally ill and drug-addicted inmates, with staff apparently encouraging other prisoners convicted of serious crimes to attack him due to his fragile state.
Ahmad Kaabi is one of the thousands of Ahwazi activists imprisoned for the ‘crime’ of participating in peaceful demonstrations demanding basic human rights. The litany of torture and of mental and physical abuse to which he has been subjected is, tragically, typical, with the UN, Amnesty International and other bodies regularly condemning the regime’s persecution and the injustices inflicted on all dissidents, more particularly those from ethnic minorities like the Ahwazis, Kurds, Balochis, who are punished twice over and subjected to a de facto apartheid system in which ethnically Persian citizens enjoy privileges not available to other groups.
The latest brutally crushed protests to sweep Ahwaz and Iran in the recent months of 2018 have yet again exposed the claims of Hassan Rouhani and his supposedly ‘moderate’ reformist government to be ushering in a new age of more liberal and open policies to be yet another regime fabrication designed to placate the international community especially western governments and, most importantly, to push through the 2015 JCPOA deal.
In reality, as Ahwazis and all the people of Iran are well aware, ‘moderate’ and ‘conservative’ are simply two wings of the same theocratic hawk, with all Iran’s government candidates and their policies requiring the prior approval of the true leaders of Iran’s regime, the Mullahs, currently led by Ayatollah Khamenei.
Many in Iran expected the situation in the country to improve under Rouhani, especially in the wake of the 2015 deal, which they had been assured would bring prosperity and a new spirit of forward-looking engagement with the world. Far from ushering in an age of openness and reform, however, Rouhani’s administration has presided over a worsening domestic economic crisis and a return to soaring levels of murderous repression last seen in Iran in the late 1980s, along with brutal regional expansionist policies that see the regime spending countless billions on propping up the murderous dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad and sending troops, sectarian militias and weapons to Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as subsidising extremist terror militias like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hashd Al-Shaabi in Iraq. As unemployment soars and the Iranian economy plummets, the drain inflicted on the already tottering Iranian economy by the regime’s ruinously expensive military campaigns for regional hegemony is losing the regime what support it still retains from all but the most ardent Khomeinist loyalists.
Rouhani’s human rights record, meanwhile, has seen Iran attain the unenviable status of taking second place only to China in per capita annual execution rates, with Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, painting a grim portrait of the regime’s crimes in his last biannual report presented to the UN General Assembly in August 2017. In the report, covering the first six months of 2017, the regime human rights violations list included at least 247 executions, the majority for drug-related offences; the use of flogging, binding, amputation, and stoning as punishments; a “high number” of arrests of journalists, political activists, and human rights defenders; and wide-ranging discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities, particularly the Baha’i. It should be noted that even the high number of executions officially admitted to by the regime is widely believed to be a fraction of the total, with ‘disappearances’ being routine, and detainees often killed under torture, with their bodies dumped into mass graves; any effort by families to even find out the whereabouts of their loved ones’ burial sites so they can visit their graves is a fruitless endeavor
In the Arab Ahwaz region, the numbers of arrests and executions have risen sharply, although for Ahwazis and other minorities, the regime has only ever stood for persecution, deprivation, torture and murder, with the levels of these state crimes being a matter of degree. The latest protests mean that there will doubtlessly be another rise in executions and repression as the regime once again attempts to screw down the lid on the social pressure cooker its own policies have created.
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