In Ahvaz, on September 22nd, an armed attack targeted a military parade that marked the 38th anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. The gunmen had been disguised as members of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij paramilitary force, according to the government, and were killed by security forces during the attack.
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence announced that it had arrested 22 suspects in the days that followed. As well, the state television channel Press TV broadcast a video of suspects handcuffed and blindfolded facing a wall.
The Al-Ahwaz National Resistance, described as an umbrella entity composed of several Ahvazi separatist groups, and the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State are among several groups who have taken responsibility for the attack.
According to Amnesty International, a huge crackdown by Iranian authorities against the Ahvazi Arab ethnic minority is now occurring. Hundreds of people are being arrested in Khuzestan province, southern Iran, over the past few weeks.
The attack on the military parade seems to have sparked the wave of detentions. The attack resulted in the deaths of 24 people, including spectators, and injured more than 60.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said, “The scale of arrests in recent weeks is deeply alarming. The timing suggests that the Iranian authorities are using the attack in Ahvaz as an excuse to lash out against members of the Ahvazi Arab ethnic minority, including civil society and political activists, in order to crush dissent in Khuzestan province.”
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