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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Supreme Court Upholds Execution Sentence for Four Ahvazis

With the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the death sentences of four young Arab men from Ahvaz on charges of “moharebeh” (enmity with God) and “corruption on earth,” the prisoners are currently in danger of imminent execution at Karoon Prison in Ahvaz.
The four Arab citizens and their families were informed of the Supreme Court’s decision on July 10. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a human rights activist in Ahvaz who is knowledgeable about the case told the Campaign that the four men did not have any political activities and the only justification for these charges was a gun found during the search of the home of one of the suspects.
“In the summer of 2009, Intelligence Ministry forces arrested seven young men from the Shadegan neighborhood of Ahvaz. All of these young men were cultural activists and two of them, Ghazi Abbasi and Abdolreza Khanafareh, are poets who held poetry reading gatherings in Shadegan. The youngest individual among them is 26 and the oldest is 33. They did not have any political activities and were not related to political organizations outside or inside Iran,” Karim Dahimi, an Ahvazi human rights activist who currently lives outside Iran, told the Campaign.
The residents arrested from Ahvaz’s Shadegan neighborhood include Ghazi Abbasi, now 31, Abdolreza Amir Khanafareh, now 26, Abdolamir Majdami, now 33, and Jassem Moghaddam, now 28. In April 2012, Branch One of Ahvaz Revolutionary Court under Judge Ali Farhadvand sentenced the four men to death on charges of “moharebeh [enmity with God] and corruption on earth through armed confrontation.” Branch 32 of the Supreme Court under Judge Reza Farajollahi upheld the ruling on February 13, 2013. The prisoners were only informed of the Supreme Court’s decision on July 10, five months later.
According to the ruling, three other suspects in the case, Hadi Albokhnafar Nejad, Sami Jadmavi Nejad, and Shahab Abbasi, were sentenced to exile in Ardebil. None of the seven men had prior criminal records.
Regarding the charges the Ahvazi men face, Karim Dahimi told the Campaign, “Their only activities were peaceful protests against confiscation of agricultural land for use for regime projects, which took place in Shadegan a few years ago. But the court accused them of moharebeh and corruption on earth through armed uprising and acting against national security and establishing an anti-revolutionary organization, which does not even exist and the suspects have denied in court.”
“All suspects refuted and denied their charges in Branch One, but the judge told them that it’s normal for suspects to deny their charges, and he did not pay any attention to the defense offered by their lawyers,” he added.
“They only found one gun during the search of one of the suspects’ home, and this was used as justification for such accusations against them. Owning a hunting rifle at home is a normal thing for our region. We use guns in our wedding ceremonies and our funeral services. Our region was also involved in an eight-year war and it is normal for guns to exist around here…. Ali Motayari, a Khuzestan Province arms expert, has said that no bullets from that gun have been shot to any government organizations or military units, no one has been murdered by that gun, and the arms expert’s report was included in the defense of the suspects and their lawyers. However, the Intelligence interrogators pressured the court to replace the expert with someone else who would testify that the gun had been used,” the source told the Campaign.
In recent days, the Campaign has received a copy of a letter from the four prisoners on death row, written in Arabic, in which they speak of their torture and the way they were forced to confess, and ask human rights activists to help stop their execution. “After three years in a state of limbo inside the Intelligence Ministry detention centers, our trial court was convened in 2012. In all, it didn’t last more than 2.5 hours and without being able to defend ourselves, we were sentenced to death on charges of armed actions, enmity with God, and corruption on earth,” the prisoners say in a part of their letter.
“I, Ghazi Abbasi, a resident of Fallahieh [Shadegan], was arrested on August 23, 2009. During my 11 months inside the Intelligence Office Detention Center, I was charged with numerous charges. I was subjected to various physical and psychological tortures during this time, and scars of this torture remain on my body to this day,” said Ghazi Abbasi, one of the four prisoners on death row.
“During this time, and for two whole years, I was deprived of any type of contact or visits with my family. In order to create psychological pressure for me, they arrested my brothers. One of them, my brother Shahab, a conscript, was brought to the Intelligence Detention Center, where he suffered various illnesses and psychological problems, and they later transferred him to Sepidar Prison. They used different torture methods on me and my brother, and even with all the despicable torture methods the Intelligence Office used on us, they were unable to force me to accept the accusations leveled against me,” Ghazi Abbasi wrote in another part of the letter.
“About four years since our arrest, our trial was like a Hitchcock thriller that lasted only one hour. We refused our charges and they did not ask us to provide any explanations [defense], but most regrettably, they issued the rulings unfairly, sentencing me and three of my friends to death, and my brother Shahb and some young people to faraway places,” he wrote.