Concerns are growing over the Iranian government's increased crackdown on religious and ethnic minorities, after at least 12 Baloch Sunni Muslims were arrested today in Saravan, Sistan-Baluchistan province.
The apparent surge in arrests of minority groups in Iran follows the revenge execution of sixteen Sunni Muslims from Baluchistan on Saturday in Zahedan prison, south-eastern Iran. According to the public prosecutor, Mohammad Marzieh, the executions were in 'retaliation' for the killing of Iranian border guards during clashes the previous night in Saravan.
The prisoners who were executed had no involvement in the clashes, and the cases against many of the men were marred by allegations of torture and judicial irregularities.
Another Sunni prisoner was executed on Sunday, believed to be from the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran. According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), the prisoner was hanged in Parsilon prison in Khorammabad, Lorestan province.
The names of those arrested today are:
- Rasool Mollazehi
- Hussein Hassan Zehi
- Saifullah Hassan Zehi
- Gul Muhammad Rigi
- Ahmad Barahouii
- Abdul Kareem Shah Baksh
- Reza Shah Baksh
- Ahmad Zehouki
- Kheyrandish Bameri
- Eydouk Narouii
- Islam Narouii
- Osman Rigi
The rise in recent arrests and executions of Sunni Muslims appears to be a direct result of the regime's persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. Sunni Muslims face unfair trials and are routinely sentenced to death in Iran, despite the allegations that torture is widely used to extract false 'confessions'.
According to Amnesty International, the Iranian government: “was increasingly using the death penalty as a way of stemming unrest in areas with large ethnic minorities. In recent years, bomb attacks in the predominantly Arab province of Khuzestan and ethnic Baloch areas of Sistan-Baluchistan province were followed by a wave of often public executions. Some of the condemned men were shown on state television making "confessions" that are believed to have been extracted from them under torture or other duress.”