(New York) – Iranian security forces arrested more than 65 Arab residents during security sweeps in Iran’s Arab-majority Khuzestan province since late 2011 according to local activists, Human Rights Watch said today. The Iranian government should immediately charge or release those arrested, Human Rights Watch said. Authorities should also investigate reports by local activists that two detainees have died in Intelligence Ministry detention facilities in the past week.
Reports by local activists about security sweeps in the towns of Hamidiyeh, Shush, and Ahvaz indicate that authorities carried out at least some of the arrests in response to anti-government slogans and graffiti spray-painted on public property expressing sympathy for the Arab Spring and calling for a boycott of Iran’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for March 2, 2012. Human Rights Watch received information that Mohammad Kaabi, 34, and Nasser Alboshokeh Derafshan, 19, died in detention facilities run by local intelligence officials in Shush and Ahvaz respectively, apparently as a result of torture. The local activists say that most of those arrested are being held in incommunicado detention.
“There has been a blackout inside Iran on this latest round of arrests targeting Arab protesters and activists,” said >>>