Ahwazi Rights Declaration sign now

- Having regard to Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution permitting "the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools."

- Having regard to Article 19 of the Iranian Constitution affirming that "all people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and colour, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege."

- Having regard to Article 26 of the Iranian Constitution affirming that "The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic."

- Having regard to Article 1 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights stating that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

- Having regard to Article 7 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights affirming that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."

- Having regard to Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran, affirming that "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

- Having regard to Article 3 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by Iran, condemning "racial segregation and apartheid" and commits state parties to "undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction."

- Having regard to Article 33(1) of the United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, declaring that "No Contracting State shall expel or return ("refouler") a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion," and Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

- Having regard to the UN General Assembly's resolution expressing serious concern about the human rights situation in Iran;[1]

- Having regard to the reports by Amnesty International on the arrest, incommunicado detention, use of torture and execution against Ahwazi Arab prominent journalists, lawyers, tribal leaders, students and human rights activists;[2]

- Having regard to the Amnesty International's report acknowledging that 54 civilians who were killed during the April 2005 uprising in Ahwaz City.[3]

A. Whereas the human rights situation in Iran has systematically deteriorated in the last few years;

B. Whereas Iran continues to arrest, imprisonment and execution of Ahwazi Arab minority rights activists;

C. Whereas Iran systematically refused to provide information and engage in a dialogue with UN Special Rapporteurs on the continuing execution of Ahwazi Arabs, violating its obligations under the procedures of the Human Rights Council; [4]

D. Whereas breaches of human and minority rights in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) continue to be reported by non-governmental organisations, including the persecution of ethnic Arabs and the destruction of their homes and confiscation of their land;

E. Whereas in recent years Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) has witnessed a state-enforced change in ethnic composition through forced out-migration of Arabs to other provinces and in-migration of non-Arabs, as stated by UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari, which amounts to an ethnic cleansing policy; [5]

F. Whereas Arabs are denied employment under the gozinesh criteria; [6]

G. Whereas Ahwazi Arab refugees under the protection of the United Nations continue to be detained and illegally deported or extradited from Syria. [7] [8]

We the undersigned

1. Condemn racism, political violence and reactionary ideologies;

2. Condemn Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs on the grounds that collectively they represent a national security threat;

3. Call upon Iran to respect the cultural, linguistic and historical identity of the Arabs of Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz);

4. Call for an end to ethnically exclusive settlements in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz), including the use of separation barriers to segregate neighbourhoods by ethnicity;

5. Call upon Iran to allow Arab freedom of expression and association, with the full participation of Arab political parties in the electoral process, so long as they are peaceful and respect the outcome of free and fair elections;

6. Declare that the Ahwazi issue should not be used as a pretext for foreign invasion and that the Ahwazi movement should not be used as part of a proxy war between Iran and its foreign enemies; the Ahwazi Arab civil rights movement should remain a genuine and legitimate expression of ethnic grievances and aspirations;

7. Consider unacceptable the persecution of Arabs in Iran and support an independent and public investigation by the UN Human Rights Council into the situation in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) following the repression of April 2005, particularly a series of executions of Ahwazi Arabs, the killing of unarmed Ahwazi Arab demonstrators and other extra-judicial killings;

8. Call for the recognition of the Arab people as a distinct ethnic group and enshrine this in the Iranian Constitution;

9. Call for Arabs to be educated in their native tongue, up to higher educational level;

10. Call for freedom of worship for non-Shia people of Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) and the rest of Iran, including Sunnis, Christians, Mandeans, Jews, Bahais, Zoroastrians and other faiths and also to permit religious conversion and atheist and humanist beliefs;

11. Call for the respect for women's rights in Iran and for the appointment of an Arab woman to take the position of womens officer in the Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) provincial government in order to tackle culturally sensitive issues, such as honour killing, health issues and education;

12. Call for the recognition of internally democratic, independent trade unions in the workplace, with peaceful worker mobilisation free of government intimidation;

13. Call for positive discrimination in favour of Arabs in Arab majority districts to ensure adequate Arab representation in employment;

14. Call for Arab citizens' equal right to housing, employment and ownership of property throughout Iran;

15. Call for the establishment of a local assembly with powers to legislate and enforce laws in Khuzestan (Al-Ahwaz) and ensure the participation of the Arab people in the Iranian parliament and the Cabinet on the basis of their proportion of the total population;

16. Freedom of expression and publication should be emphasised with the independent publication of Arabic language books and newspapers and independent broadcasting on radio and television networks, without any kind of censorship;

17. Call for oil revenues to be used to develop the Arab region's industry and agriculture for the sake of employment and poverty alleviation;

18. Call for a review of the agrarian reform law, with land redistributed to peasants;

19. Condemn the arrest and imprisonment of Ahwazi Arab intellectuals, journalists and lawyers and the closure of Arabic bookshops;

20. Call for the United Nations and refugee-hosting States, including Syria, to respect the rights of Ahwazi Arab refugees to safe haven and asylum, and immediately cease deportations to Iran.



[1] http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/gashc3876.doc.htm

[2] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130512005?open&of=ENG-IRN http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/05/10/iran10602.htm

[3] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130172005?open&of=ENG-IRN

[4] http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/31A0C4FE25DC547EC125725F005D3DDA

[5] http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=48518&SelectRegion=Asia

[6] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130102006?open&of=ENG-IRN

[7] http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/UNHCR/b033af4c57fe2397defd5ea79a66c092.htm

[8] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/04/05/syria15651.htm

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Katharine CopelandBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
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United Nations, European Union and national governments


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