UN SECRETARY General Kofi Annan should insist Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad halts the executions of ten Iranian Arabs due to take place tomorrow, the European Parliament heard today.
UK Green Party MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert have called on Mr Annan – as well as a range of senior EU and UN leaders – to step in and demand Tehran commutes the death sentences, which follow convictions in unfair trials based on evidence extracted under torture and widely condemned by human rights groups worldwide.
Dr Lucas, who represents South-East England, said: “These executions seem to be part of a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Awhazi Arabs, who make up three per cent of Iran’s population, and the international community must intervene to stop them.”
As well as writing to Kofi Annan, she demanded immediate action from EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the EU’s External Relations Commissioner Benito Ferrero-Waldner (with whom Dr Lucas first raised the issue of persecution of Awhazi Arab persecution last month) and the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.
London’s Green Party MEP Jean Lambert said the men’s convictions were in clear breach of international human rights standards.
“All 10 men were tortured into making false confessions. None had a fair trial, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,” she said.
“Their lawyers were not allowed to see them prior to their trial and they were given the prosecution case only hours before the start of the court proceedings, which were held in secret.
“The men must be released without charge or face new fair trials in accordance with internationally accepted standards,” she added.
The Green Party MEP, who has been awarded for her work on Justice and Human Rights, today called on the European Parliament for urgent action to halt the executions.
She has previously written to the Iranian President, the British embassy and other relevant authorities on the issue and today raised the situation with the Iranian Embassy in London, as well as EU officials.
“The situation of these ten people is now desperate. I am adding my voice to the many asking for the death penalty not to be carried out,” she said.
“Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and should therefore grant these men a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. By not doing so and continuing with the executions Iran will critically damage it’s international reputation.”
The ten men in question were originally convicted of terrorism offences. Since the trial the lawyers have been arrested for complaining about the illegal and unjust nature of the trials, and have been charged with threatening national security. The men could be hanged as soon as tomorrow, according to Iranian media reports.
Human rights groups have warned that the trials form part of a wider campaign of ethnic cleansing by Tehran, which they say is ‘waging a secret, racist war against its Arab population’.
Iran’s Arabs (known as the Awhazi Arabs) reside predominantly in the south western province of Khuzestan and are believed to make up approximately three per cent of Iran’s population. They represent a majority in Al-Ahwaz, an area which is home to most of Iran’s oilfields.
According to the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, over the course of the past year 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested; 131 have been executed, and a further 150 have disappeared. Amnesty International has recently reported that Tehran has been imprisoning Ahwazi children along with their mothers in an attempt to force their political activist fathers to surrender to the police. Ahwazi political parties, trade unions and student groups are illegal. Arab candidates have been barred from standing for election.
The MEPs also called on the UN and EU to investigate the wider context and take immediate steps to ensure the protection and basic rights of the Ahwazi Arabs.
Dr Lucas added: “The international community must act now to prevent the escalation of yet another apparent campaign of ethnic cleansing against a persecuted minority. The UN and EU must send a clear message to Tehran that the word is watching – and is not prepared to stand by and find itself saying ‘Never Again’ again.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The ten men facing execution, possibly as soon as tomorrow, are: Ali Motairi, Abdullah Solaimani, Abdulreza Sanawati (Zergani), Ghasem Salamat, Mohamad Chaab Pour, Abdulamir Farajullah Chaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish, Khalaf Khaziri and Malek Banitamim.