Iranian regime arrests Ahwazi activists, fabricates charges against them


06 Aug 2018

According to recent reports, on 14 July 2018, Ali Zaher Sari, an Ahwazi activist, is reportedly on hunger strike for the second time in protest against the uncertainty of his situation in Sheyban Prison (Vocational Complex) in Ahwaz. He was denied seeing with his family without convincing reasons from prison staffers. Ali Zaher Sari is a civil and cultural activist. He participated in organising Arabic poetry nights and took part in human chains in support of Karun River and to protest against diverting Karun water to central parts of Iran. He also was vocal against the demolishing of Ahwazi cultural and historical sites by the Iranian regime.

On 15 March 2017, Mr Ali Zaher Sari was arrested by the Intelligence Service and held in an incommunicado detention in an unacknowledged detention centre for 4 months. He suffered from extreme mental and physical torture such as forcibly pulling his nails by the intelligence agent. Since then, he has been at Sheyban Prison without knowing the legal duration he should spend in the detention centre pending his trial. In July 2018, the Iranian Intelligence accused Ali Zaher Sari of being in liaison with foreign organizations, acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the establishment.

It is worth mentioning that torture and inhuman treatment, keeping detainee for uncertain duration in detention facilities without trail and limiting the family visits are in violation of Article 7, 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was ratified by Iranian state. [1]

The ready-made accusations are part of the Iranian Intelligence Service’s strategy to impose severe punishment against individuals or groups demanding their human rights. The accusations are including acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the establishment, enmity against God and committing acts of terrorism.

Recently, Ahwazi people have demonstrated against the shortage of drinking water and sanitation in Mohammarah and Abadan cities. People had to stand in long queues to fill their plastic buckets with clean water from mobile tankers despite the fact that Karun River once was the largest river in Ahwaz and in the whole Iran. It is passing through the middle of these two cities. And now, the level of salinity in this river has reached the highest point that people can not even use it to clean themselves up. This situation has been created as a result of the government’s policy of building dams and diverting Ahwazi water to central provinces in Iran, paying no heed to the need of Ahwazis to clean water and sanitation. [2]

The security forces arrested many of these protesters in the ‘Uprising of Thirst’ including members of an NGO called ‘Resaleh Cultural Organisation’. On 17 July 2018, the National Security Committee of the Parliament announced that 30 individuals were arrested in connection with armed activities in Mohammarah. It accused these detainees of committing acts of terrorism supported and promoted by the enemies of the Islamic Revolution including the Saudis, according to Karimi Qudoci a member of this Committee. [3]

These accusations are unfounded and have no basis since the security forces and the Revolutionary Guard arrested more than 200 people that were only demanding access to clean water for consumption and sanitations, which are the basic right for every human being. Secondly, according to the reports from Ahwazi activists on the scene, the Basij and the undercover security forces are responsible for the violence since they penetrated among the peaceful protestors. They carried guns and shot at government forces. Later, the Intelligence Service posted some photos and video footages of this evil performance to show the demonstrators as armed groups. Under the pretext of armed activities, the government sent more forces from other cities to forcibly breaking up demonstrations. They have arrested and injured large number of the peaceful protesters in Abadan and Mohammarah.

In the new wave of arrests made on 15 and 16 July 2018, the security forces detained 12 young men who had converted from Shia Islam to Sunni Islam in the city of Khafajia and its subsidiary villages. Mr Abdallah Moramazi Bin Jawad; Mr Hadi Moramazi Bin Oddeh, a teacher; and Mr Seyed Mortaza Mosawi are among the detainees were reported to have been kept in the intelligence detention facilities. The families of the captives have no information regarding the reasons of these arrests. Having said that, Seyed Mahmoud Alavi the Minister of Intelligence, announced on 16 July that 7 people were arrested in connection with Daesh group in south west of Iran. This statement came on the same day of the arrests without even completing the investigations and taking detainees to the court. These ungrounded accusations of being a foreign agent, Daeshi and terrorist are used to prevent coverage of the news by human rights organisations and media outlets. They are also employed to suppress any types of protests in Ahwaz region.

Following the oppression policy, the Abulfazl Elabas Headquarter of Revolutionary Guard arrested Mr Fuad Sakhrawi from Alawi (Althorah) district in Ahwaz city on 19 July 2018 and held in unknown location without informing his family of his accusations. Five days later on 24 July 2018 at 6 AM, the security forces raided several districts in Mohammarah city, arresting dozens of residents in connection with the peaceful ‘Uprising of Thirst’ against the shortage of water. Furthermore, on 27 July 2018, the Intelligence Service arrested Mr Ali Mosawi, 27 years old from Alawi (Althorah) district in Ahwaz city for unspecified reason and held in undisclosed location and his family were deprived from visiting him.

On the other hand, according to inside information, the Intelligence Service arrested Ali Kaab Omair, an 18 years old man from Ahwaz city after he was summoned by the Revolutionary Court on 30 July 2018. The family of Mr Ali have not received any information about his whereabout. It is worth noting that Mr Ali was arrested previously on 8 February 2017 in his parent house and was beaten severely in front of his family. As a result of such excessive physical abuse, his hand was broken and his mother were taken to hospital for stroke. Mr Ali Kaab Omair was one of the leading activists in social media. Despite his young age, Mr Ali played an important role in disseminating Arabic culture among Ahwazi people, as well as participating in demonstrations against the diverting Ahwazi water to central provinces in Iran, environmental pollution and poverty. In addition, he was taking active part in football stadiums by promoting Arabic identity.

On 1 August 2018, Sadeq Kabi (Debi) a 30 years old poet and cultural activist was arrested by the Intelligence Service from his house in Sus (Shush) city. According to his family, at 6 AM, the intelligence forces raided the house and took him away without providing any information regarding his whereabout. He was arrested for saying poetry in Arabic and publishing clips on social media about the salinity and shortage of water in Mohammarah and Abadan.

In addition, another 6 Ahwazi activists from Hamidia city were arrested on 2 August 2018 by the Intelligence Service.Their names are as follows:

1. Mr Ali Sayahi, 35 years old, son of Ghanem, married and have two sons.

2. Mr Amir Sayahi, 30 years old, sons of Ghanem, married and have one child.

3. Mr Shahab Sayahi, 22 years old, son of Jawad, and a student.

4. Mr Abbas Saedi, 27 years old, son of Eydan, and a law graduate.

5. Maher Manbohi, 27 years old, son of Ali, and an agricultural engineer.

6. Malek Manbohi, 24 years old, son of Ali, married and a teacher.

It is notable that Mr Ali Sayahi was arrested previously twice in February 2013 and May 2014. He had experienced ill-treatment in intelligence detention facilities and subsequently was charged with national security-related crimes. So, he sentenced to 3 years jail in Karun Prison. In addition, Maher and Malek Manbohi are brothers and their father Mr Ali Manbohi is currently serving his 18 years term at Sheyban Prison on accusations of acting against national security. Moreover, further arrest was reported in connection with the current detention of Mr Abbas Saedi. Mr Nabi Saedi and Ahmed Saedi were arrested on 4 July 2018 by the Intelligence Service after they had protested against the illegal detention of their brother Mr Abbas Saedi.

According to the latest information, the intelligence of the Revolutionary Guard arrested Mr Reza Sari from his home in Alawi (Althorah) district in Ahwaz city on 3 August 2018. Mr Reza Sari was taken to Abulfazl Elabas Headquarter without proving arrest warrants from the court that shows his accusation based on material evidence. Mr Reza is an active individual in the field of social and sport events.

Accordingly, on 6 August 2018, Mr Satar Khaliji an Ahwazi celebrity and songster was kidnaped by the Iranian Intelligence force in front of his house in Alawi (Althora) District in Ahwaz city. Mr Satar promotes the love for Ahwazi land and the spirit of resistance against the racial discriminatory policy by the Iranian regime in this land. Also, he has been encouraging young people to preserve Arabic identity and traditions in this land.


[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, GA Res 2200A (XXI), 16 December 1966.

[2] Abdulrahman Hetteh, ‘The ‘Uprising of Thirst’ in Mohammarah and Abadan: the causes, facts and consequences’ (AODHR, 15 July 2018) <> accessed 5 August 2018.

[3] Tasnim News Agency, ‘The arrest of 30 armed terrorists in the recent riot in Khorramshahr’ (17 July 2018) <بازداشت-30-تروریستمسلحدرآشوبهایاخیرخرمشهر> accessed 5 August 2018.

By Abdulrahman Hetteh

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