Iranian regime authorities executed two more Ahwazi Arab activists in the Fajr prison in the city of Dazful at around dawn yesterday, following months of torture during which both were forced to make false confessions.
The families of the two men, 38-year-old Abdullah Karmollah Chab and 32-year-old Ghassem Abdullah, were notified of their executions in brief phone calls shortly after they took place by regime officials who informed them that they could not obtain their loved ones’ bodies for burial or know where they had been buried. The families were also warned against holding any mourning ceremonies, with regime police reportedly arresting family members who defied these cruel proscriptions to hold funeral prayers for their deceased fathers and sons.
This is standard policy for regime officials, who apparently feel that bodies may provide evidence of the torture and abuse the victims have been subjected to, and funeral ceremonies may be used to condemn the regime over the deaths or to organise protests.
Despite intervention on the two prisoners’ behalf by Amnesty International, who urged the Iranian regime to spare the men’s lives and allow them access to lawyers and a fair trial, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Saturday that the Supreme Court had upheld the court’s preliminary verdict sentencing the two men to death. The charges they were convicted on, none of which had any basis in fact were: posing a threat to Iran’s national security, corruption on earth, enmity to God, having ties with Ahwazi political movements overseas, and forming a clandestine movement aimed at sabotaging and destabilising national security.
In its statement condemning the death penalties issued against the two men, issued on 8 May, Amnesty International indicated that the verdicts and sentences had followed a grossly unjust trial based on “confessions” obtained under torture. The global rights group accused the regime of using electric shocks, mock executions and other forms of torture to force the men to make false confessions later used to convict them.
Abdullah Karmollah Chab was a married father of three young children, from the Shavur district of Susa city, while Ghassem Abdullah hailed from the village of Kaab Beit Allawi near Susa.
The two men were detained, along with six others, on 19 October 2015 in a series of raids and arrests by agents of the regime’s infamous Ministry of Intelligence, who initially imprisoned them in solitary confinement at one of the regime’s notorious black site prisons in an unknown location for six months. These “unofficial” prisons, run and staffed by regime intelligence service agents, are interrogation centres used to subject detainees to physical and psychological torture. The regime does not acknowledge the existence of these facilities, with prisoners there held incommunicado, forbidden from contacting family or lawyers or even from letting anyone know of their whereabouts.
After six months, Abdullah and Ghassem were transferred to another prison where they were able to contact their families to notify them, they that were still alive, as well as receiving one family visit each. They were transferred to a couple of other jails between 2015 and 2019 before being moved to another detention facility run by the intelligence ministry in Hamadan province in central Iran in April 2019, where they were banned from having any contact with their families.
During his imprisonment, Abdullah told his family that the regime’s interrogators had subjected him to brutal physical and psychological torture, including hanging him upside down by his legs and beating him, and subjecting him to false executions, telling him that they would bury him in an unmarked grave in a “graveyard which has no signposts”.
For three days, he told his family, the regime interrogators had woken him up by putting a sack over his head as though they were about to take him to be executed, telling him that if he “confessed”, he would not be executed. He rejected these attempts at blackmail, insisting that he was innocent and had committed no crime. On the third day, he said, he heard one of the interrogators telling his colleagues, “Let him go. If he had something to say, he would have said it by now.”
Despite their obvious innocence, both men were prevented from appointing lawyers, even during their trials when they were represented by a state-appointed defence attorney. Although the lawyer had both men undress in court to show the torture injuries inflicted during their interrogation, the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz issued a guilty verdict on September 2017, ordering the men be executed in the city of Susa. This decision was appealed at the Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran, with representatives of the two men pointing out that their conviction was based on confessions obtained under torture.
The other six activists who were also arrested along with Abdullah and Ghassem received prison sentences of between three and 25 years on charges of threatening national security, again on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture.
The three defendants sentenced to 25 years imprisonment each were 25-year-old Majed Beit Abdullah from Khalaf Moslem village, 32-year-old Ahmed Kaab, a poet from Susa, and 33-year-old Hassan Beit Abdullah from Kaab Beit Allawi.
Three other men, all from the Shavur district, who were sentenced to three years each have been identified as Hassan Karmalachaab and Majid Beit Abdullah, both 26 years old, and 32-year-old Issa Beit Abdullah.
The defendants were arrested in raids on their families’ homes by security personnel on 16 October 2015. Ahmad, Majed, and Abdullah were transferred to Masjid Suleiman Prison following an intensive interrogation.
All eight were subsequently transferred to the headquarters of the Intelligence Directorate in Susa, a facility infamous for torturing detainees. They were kept there incommunicado for the next two years and forbidden any visitation or communication with their families. After the trial, the defendants were taken to the Intelligence Centre in Ahwaz City.
Two days before the execution of the two prisoners hundreds of members of the Ahwazi community across Europe travelled to Brussels for a protest in front of the EU parliament demanding immediate intervention to release the Ahwazi prisoners and stop the wave of executions and the sharp rise in arrests and attacks on hundreds of Ahwazi activists. Unfortunately, the EU continues turned a deaf ear to the appeals by Ahwazis for the sake of protecting lucrative trade deals with the Iranian regime.
Kamil Alboshoka, a London-based Ahwazi rights activist, said: “For nearly a century, Ahwazis have been deprived of their right to sovereignty, self-determination, and even the ability to maintain their own traditions.”
Our families live in constant fear that they will be dragged out of their homes in the middle of night, to vanish into horrific medieval prisons, not knowing if we will ever see our loved ones again.
“And those who manage to be released, often after payment of exorbitant bribes rather than any real due process, are often permanently and maliciously maimed by the systemic abuse they suffered. We can speak of brutal crimes that occur daily, crimes against international law, and basic human morality. And this is what happens when we simply try to protest against what are fundamentally racist and vicious practices by the regime.”
“Our homeland of Ahwaz is not being taken by the regime merely because of its prejudices or xenophobia, but because it contains within it the overwhelming majority of Iran’s natural resources, the very oil and mineral deposits that the regime so desperately relies upon even as US sanctions tip the regime ever closer to its breaking point.”
The regime in Tehran has become adept at manufacturing excuses and justifications for its persecution and executions against the Ahwazi people. Since the beginning of the “Islamic Revolution” in 1979, the regime has carried out countless executions under the guise of fighting imperialism, with the support of members of socialist parties and groups and other credulous individuals.
Since electing the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran, the rate of executions in the country has doubled, with their pace steadily rising. Iran has been ranked second globally after China in terms of per capita executions. Under Rouhani, dozens of Ahwazi political and cultural activists have been executed secretly by the intelligence agents and security apparatuses and buried without informing their families or lawyers.
Former Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon described the executions in Iran as regrettable. He said that many cultural and ethnic minority activists in Iran such as the Ahwazi Arabs are executed without taking the slightest heed of international norms. Most of those killed are buried in unmarked graves without informing their relatives.
In fact, analysing the performance of the Iranian regime since 1979, one could conclude that the Iranian regime uses executions to spread panic among the people in order to remain in power. The regime has killed political and cultural activists.
Eventually, however, Iran’s societal dam will burst.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.