Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Security Forces Arrest Dozens In Khuzestan Province

Arab citizens protesting in Ahwaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province in March, 2018.

Iranian human rights news agencies on Friday reported that police security department agents of Ahvaz arrested at least thirty citizens in the town of Shooshtar, Khuzestan Province on May 28.

According to Human Rights in Iran (HRI), the detained citizens including at least two teenagers were taken from their homes in Shooshtar in the early hours of Thursday to an unknown location.

HRI and other agencies have published the names of eight detainees who apparently belong to the ethnic Arab minority of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan.

Security forces arrested the detainees violently," Karim Dahimi, a London-based Arab rights activist, was quoted by HRI as saying.

Islamic Republic officials have not yet made any statement regarding the arrests.

In the past month, at least two more group arrests of ethnic Arabs were reported in the southern provinces of the country.

On Wednesday, the Law Enforcement Commander of Khuzestan Province said security police of Mahshahr Port had arrested "fourteen agents of Takfiri and separatist groups".

He alleged that some of those arrested were supporters of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA). The group classified by the Islamic Republic as a terrorist group advocates a separate Arab state in Khuzestan Province.

Iranian authorities usually allege that the Arab-speaking citizens they arrest belong to separatist groups, are agents of hostile governments or members of "Takfiri" groups. Takfiri is a vague umbrella term used to refer to Sunni dissident groups and individuals.

According to Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), security forces on May 22 arrested five Sunni residents in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan, and took them to an unspecified location.

Arabs are a minority in Iran, and some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy. The number of Arab-speaking Iranians who mainly live in the southwestern provinces of Khuzestan, Ilam, Bushehr and Hormozgan has been estimated at around 1.5 million. Many are of Sunni faith.

However, unrest in Khuzestan does not stem only from Arab nationalism. Although the province provides the bulk of Iran's crude oil, the government has failed to invest in the region and many Arab and non-Arab residents have engaged in frequent protests.

  • 16x9 Image

    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.