Iran: teacher dies on hunger strike

From the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, Feb. 14:

An Ahwazi Arab teacher, Reisan Sawari, died while on hunger strike on Tuesday. Sawari had been held in solitary confinement for a year and was protesting against his conditions. He was a member of the reformist Lejnat al-Wefagh (Reconciliation Committee), which campaigned for Arab rights by constitutional means, including contesting elections. The party was banned by the regime last year, with government spokesmen claiming it was a threat to national security.

During his imprisonment, Sawari was tortured and his relatives were denied the right to visit him. Reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society claim that he was tortured while on hunger strike at the Revolutionary Guards’ Mali-Rah prison and may have died as a result of his injuries. He was 32 when he died. He leaves a wife and no children.

In March 2006, he was one of a number of men shown “confessing” on the state-owned Khuzestan TV to carrying out bomb attacks on oil pipelines in October 2005; televised confessions are made after months of torture and threats to relatives’ lives. He was innocent of the charges levelled at him by the Iranian regime as he had been held in custody since September 2005 on unspecified charges.

He was sentenced to death in a secret trial held at Ahwaz Revolutionary Court on 7 June 2006; the death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 25 July 2006.

Reisan’s death while on hunger strike comes just days after another Ahwazi, 26 year old Abdolamir Farjolah Kaab, was executed while on hunger strike while protesting against his prison conditions. He was executed in Ahwaz’s Karoun Prison along with three other men.

Amnesty International issued a number of urgent actions due to fears that he would be executed in prison.

See our last post on ethnic struggles in Iran.