Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urged the Iranian judiciary to quash death sentences against five Arab-Iranians and halt their executions on grounds of torture and unfair legal proceedings.
The five had been sentenced last year on terrorism-related charges because of their links to a banned cultural institute that promoted their Arab heritage. Their death sentences were upheld last week and they were transferred from Karoun prison in Ahvaz, capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan. Their families no longer know where they are being held, the statement by the rights group said. (Reuters, 24 Janyary)
On Wednesday, 30 human rights organizations and campaigners, including Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, also urged Iran to stop the implementation of the death sentences against the five men.
UN Human Right Commission has also voiced concern over the fate of the five detainees.
“There are concerns about ... five individuals, Mr Mohammad Ali Amouri, Mr Sayed Jaber Alboshoka, Mr Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Mr Hashem Shabain Amouri and Mr Hadi Rashidi, whose death sentences were apparently recently upheld by the Supreme Court and appear to be at risk of imminent execution. There are serious concerns about the fairness of their trials and allegations that they were subjected to torture.” (UNHRC, 22 January)
Four members of Iran's Arab minority were executed last year. United Nations human rights experts said they were sentenced to death after an opaque trial whose fairness was questionable.
There are no official figures for the size of the Arab minority population in Iran, but Arab-Iranians form the majority in oil-rich Khuzestan province. Many Arab-Iranians fought against Saddam when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980.
Photo: Logo of Amnesty International (AI)