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03/04/2013 English

Ethnic Minority Cases Supporting the Special Rapporteur’s March 2013 Report

This supplement provides documented cases of detained ethnic minorities that served as part of the basis of Dr. Shaheed’s March 2013 report presented to the UN Human Rights Council. The documentation is based on primary interviews and secondary research conducted for the March 2013 report (Click here for the full report supplement).

Report Supplement

February 28, 2013

V. Ethnic Minorities

Ahwazi Arabs

33. An informed source reported that social and cultural activist Aref Sorkhi was repeatedly threatened by authorities for his activities and was arrested on 9 February 2011 at his home without a warrant by unknown authorities, and was pepper-sprayed at the time of arrest. The authorities then reportedly confiscated his Arabic books, computer, and cell phone. The interviewee maintained that his family was unaware of the place of his detention for a month and that Mr. Sorkhi was only able to contact his family after four months when he was transferred to Karoun Prison. The source stated that Mr. Sorkhi was charged with “establishing anti-state Arabic groups”, “cooperating with Arab countries in the region”, “disturbing public order”, and “participating in the Arab national movement.” The interviewee alleged that Mr. Sorkhi has been tortured, and reported that he remains in detention and has not yet been sentenced.

34. Mr. Hameed was a student studying in Syria and was arrested on 19 June 2008 during a visit to Iran. He reported that he was arrested at the airport by plainclothes security forces and accused of founding an Arab Ahwaz group in Syria, and of being active against the Islamic Republics. After being interrogated he was released, only to be rearrested in July 2008. He was arrested in his home, blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to the security office of Ahwaz, where he reported being held in solitary confinement until 6 September 2008. After 10 days of being interrogated he was charged with “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and with “contact with the Refagh [Arab Nationalist] Party”. He served two months in detention, during which he was physically assaulted, resulting in a separated retina. He asserted that he did not have adequate access to medical services for his injury. Moreover, Mr. Hameed stated that prison officials demanded he confess to “writing about discrimination against Ahwazi Arabs in an effort to stir up trouble”. He was denied access to a lawyer, and was eventually released on bail.

35. Political and cultural activist and former policeman Nasser Abiat reports that he was arrested twice, first in 2005 by security forces without a warrant. He was allegedly not allowed a lawyer in the Hamidia Court, where he was charged with converting from Shi’a to Sunni Islam and attending anti-regime demonstrations. Pending further investigation by the judge, Mr. Abiat was relegated to solitary confinement for a month in a cell too small to lie down in, during which time he reportedly received inadequate food, was only allowed to shower twice, and was threatened with the rape of his female family members. Mr. Abiat alleges that when he refused to confess following this month, he was confined in Sephedar Prison for an additional month. During his interrogations in detention, Mr. Abiat was reportedly questioned throughout the night, beaten, blindfolded, and threatened with the death penalty and further beatings. Following his month in Sephedar Prison, Mr. Abiat was sentenced to 2 years in prison without a trial or access to a lawyer, but his sentence was overturned on appeal to the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court and replaced with a 2 million tuman fine. He was also demoted two levels in the police corps, suspended for 6 months without pay, not allowed to wear his uniform, and was not allowed to travel within the country without permission from the police. Mr. Abiat was reportedly arrested again in the summer of 2007 while visiting a police station and received a 2 year prison sentence on charges of attending illegal demonstrations. He was allegedly held for 3 days at the police station and 10 days in Sephedar Prison. During his interrogations, Mr. Abiat reports that he was kicked and beaten. He was then sent to a military court in Tehran and was suspended without pay, restricted from provincial travel, not allowed to use his car for 6 months. Two months later, he was dismissed from his job per a decision by the military court. After witnessing the arrest of his cousin in 2007, Mr. Abiat left the country.


36. Mohammad Ali Afraza, a Kurdish human rights activist, was arrested in Sanandaj in 2008. He reported that eight security forces arrested him, and beat and verbally abused him. He reported that he was charged with “disrupting social security”, that he was kept in solitary confinement for 21 days, and that he was physically and psychologically tortured. He was reportedly blindfolded during interrogations and threatened with execution. He was eventually taken to the court in Sanandaj Prison where the conditions were reportedly poor. These conditions allegedly included severe overcrowding, and the widespread, consistent torture of prisoners. Mr. Afraza stated that other prisoners were ordered not to speak to him, which he said was psychologically taxing. He was released on bail after five months, tried two months later, and sentenced to four months in prison, with a five year suspended sentence. He alleged that his trial lasted seven minutes and that he was convicted of “spying for sources outside of the country” and with “propaganda and illegal political organizations”. He was released after his trial, and has since left Iran.

37. An informed source reported that s(he) was part of a student organization that informed Kurdish students about their rights as a minority group in Iran. S(he) was suspended by his/her university’s disciplinary committee for one year for participating in a banned student newspaper. The source reported being summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence 11 times between May and June 2010. During these sessions, (s)he was accused of being a separatist, a spy, and of acting against the Supreme Leader. The source reported being blindfolded, verbally abused, and humiliated during these interrogations. (S)he was charged with “Membership in the Democratic Union of Kurdish Students”, “acting against the regime through propagating falsehoods”, “creating public anxiety and disrupting public order through organizing protest demonstrations”, and “interviewing with foreign media”. (S)he was reportedly sentenced to several months in prison, cash fines, and lashes. His/her prison sentence was revoked upon appeal, and (s)he was able to pay a fine in lieu of flogging. (S)he reported that (s)he was denied access to a lawyer. In 2012, the source reported that (s)he was arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence, that (s) he was physically abused during his/her arrest, detained in solitary confinement for three weeks, and interrogated on six separate occasions. During this time the source was again accused of being a spy and a member of Kurdish political parties. (S)he reported that his/her request for a lawyer was mocked and denied, that (s)he was asked to call other Kurdish activists who have been executed “terrorists” during his/her interrogations, and that (s)he was released on excessive bail after approximately three weeks in detention. (S)he has been banned from attending university and believes that (s)he has been blacklisted from finding work. The source has since left Iran.

38. On 3 February 2010 Kaweh Karmanshahi was arrested in Kermanshah by Intelligence authorities. He spent a total of four months in detention, and was held until the end of May 2010. He reported that he spent the first 80 days in solitary confinement, and he stated that he was tortured. He was sentenced to five years in prison (commuted to four on appeal) for “propaganda against the regime” due to writing articles and giving interviews with the media, and for his membership in the organization Human Rights in Kurdistan. He was released on bail (his family’s house) and has since left Iran. The organization Human Rights in Kurdistan monitors human rights abuses around Iran, particularly in Kurdistan, with a particular focus on political prisoners. The founder of the organization is currently in jail, and other members have been forced to flee the country. Mr. Karmanshahi maintained that like many minorities in Iran, Kurds cannot use their own languages in schools, courts, or government buildings. Mr. Karmanshahi reported that the situation for political prisoners in Iranian Kurdish areas is quite severe, and that there are 20 Kurdish prisoners currently on death row. He reported that many human rights defenders have been secretly executed.