Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Ali Chaldavi

About

Age: 23
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: December 11, 2007
Location: Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Death in custody
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Information about Mr. Ali Chaldavi was obtained from various sources including Ahvaz Human Rights Organization (December 30, 2007), Ahvaz News Agency (January 2, 2008), and the Iranian Human Rights Activists Groups in EU and North America’s report (January 21, 2008). Additional information concerning Arab citizens’ protests in Khuzestan Province has been obtained through an interview conducted by the ABF with a number of eyewitnesses to the protests; a report from Milan Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing (March 21, 2006); from bulletins and reports by Amnesty International (April 20, 2005 and May 17, 2006); and Human Rights Watch (May 20, 2005 and February15, 2007); and from numerous reports by the Ahvaz Human Rights Organization, the Ahvaz News Agency; the ISNA and IRNA news agencies; as well as from news websites, including BBC and Gooya News. 

Mr. Ali Chaldavi was a young man of 23, single, and worked at a grocery store in Ahvaz.

A Summary of the Khuzestan Protests 

Subsequent to the publication of a letter dated July 24, 1998, ascribed to then-President Khatami’s Chief of Staff, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, demonstrations protesting the letter broke out on Friday, April 15, 2005, first in [the city of] Ahvaz, and then in other cities, such as Mahshahr and Hamidideh, and continued for several days. The letter emphasized the modification of Khuzestan Province’s ethnic Arab population through promotion and encouragement of the migration of non-native populations to the province, [thus] reducing Khuzestan’s Arab population to one third of the total population of the province. Although the government’s spokesperson officially denied [the existence of] this letter on Saturday, April 16, the demonstrations that had been called for by the “Coordination Committee for Popular Protests in Ahvaz” continued extensively in the coming days. In calling for demonstrations, [the organizers] highlighted various factors, including “the central government’s policies in expropriating Arab farmers’ lands for various projects such as sugar cane development,” and “marginalization of, as well as profound discontent among, Khuzestan’s Arab [population], as a result of the regime’s efforts to obliterate Arab identity.” 

The demonstrations that had started in Shelangabad (Da’ereh), one of [the city of] Ahvaz’s poor neighborhoods, quickly spread to the center of Ahvaz and to the cities of Mahshahr and Hamidieh. Citing Ahvaz News (a regional news organization) and eyewitnesses at the scene, the Ahvaz Human Rights Organization’s bulletin, dated April 15, 2005, stated, “Around three thousand Arab people of Ahvaz have gathered together and started extensive but peaceful demonstrations in Kordovani Street and Square, along with thousands of others in neighborhoods such as Shelangabad, Malashieh, Ameri, and Kut Abdollah, among others. Security forces are attacking the demonstrators, first with tear gas, and are subsequently firing on them in Da’ereh and Malashieh neighborhoods.” The degree of violence resorted to by security and police forces in quashing the demonstrations was such that it led to the death of a number of protestors. Dozens more were injured. Subsequent to these deaths, the intensity and magnitude of the protests increased. In a number of towns, demonstrators proceeded to cut off roads and to occupy government buildings and police posts. These protests continued for ten days in many Arab regions of Khuzestan. Protestors demanded a government apology to the region’s Arabs. Official government sources, quoting the Islamic Republic’s Defense Minister, announced the death toll as standing at three or four. (ISNA, April 19, 2005) Civil society activists, however, declared the number of people killed during these events to be between 50 and 60. Amnesty International stated the number as 29; Human Rights Watch, 50; and the Ahvaz Human Rights Organization, 160. Dozens of others were injured. The Ahvaz General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest and arraignment of 447 individuals. (IRNA, April 25, 2005) Local sources, however, announced the number as being greater than 1200. A number of intellectuals and ethnic leaders were among those arrested. Although the demonstrations subsided after ten days, widespread arrests, multiple bombings, successive executions, and popular protests continued on various occasions, including the anniversary of the events. 

Related Protests in the Following Years 

In the years since the violent incidents of April 15, 2005, the regime’s forces have continued to violently suppress the peaceful protests of the Arab citizens of Khuzestan Province, whenever they occur, including on the anniversary of the protests. Every year, as April 15th nears, a wave of arrests takes over the entire region. Internet access is cut off, and other means of communication, such as telephones, are tapped and strictly controlled by the security apparatus. Certain cases of death in suspicious circumstances have even been reported by local sources. 

On November 4, 2005, after the Eid al-Fitr prayers, Arab citizens of [the city of] Ahvaz started a peaceful march. On the route to Lashgarabad, every time they would reach the homes of those who had perished in the April 15th protests, they would chant local and Arabic slogans as part of the new Eid ceremonies. On their way back, while on the Fifth Bridge of the Karun River, a large number of the protestors were surrounded on both sides of the bridge by Revolutionary Guards, Bassij, and police forces. The attempt by these forces to arrest and severely punish the demonstrators who had been trapped on the bridge led to the escalation of the protests. A large number of the demonstrators were arrested, and some jumped into the Karun River for fear of arrest. 

Further, on October 13, 2007, after the Eid al-Fitr prayers, thousands of Arab citizens started peaceful protests in [the town of] Hamidieh, chanting Arabic and epic slogans and songs. (Ahwaz Human Rights Organization) Dozens were beaten and arrested when security and police forces violently intervened in the protests. There are no reports of protestors having been killed on the day of Eid al-Fitr. Somewhat later, after the demonstrations, however, the bodies of 4 citizens were found in the Karun River. According to activists, their hands were tied with plastic handcuffs, and signs of torture were visible on their bodies. (Ahwaz News Agency) 

Arrest and Detention 

Security forces arrested Mr. Chaldavi on October 13, during the peaceful protests conducted  after the Eid al-Fitr Prayer in [the town of] Hamidieh. (Ahvaz News Agency) No information was provided to his family regarding why he was arrested and where he was being detained. 

Trial

No information is available on the trial. Based on the available information, no trial was held to examine the charges against Mr. Chaldavi.  

Charges

No information is available on the charges brought against him. He was arrested during the Eid al-Fitr protests of 2007. 

Evidence of Guilt 

The report of this execution did not provide any specific information on the evidence presented against the defendant. 

Defence 

Mr. Chaldavi was not given a chance to present a defense.

Judgment 

Based on available information, no official sentence has been issued for Mr. Ali Chaldavi’s execution. News of his killing was announced by Ahvaz Human Rights Organization on December 30, 2007. In a letter dated January 2, 2008 to Ms. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ahvaz Human Rights Organization stated that government forces had informed Mr. Chaldavi’s family that his body had been found in an alley in Ahvaz on December 11, 2007. Family members had seen his body at a morgue belonging to Avaz 92nd Armored Division, and signs of torture were visible. Based on this same report, Mr. Chaldavi had died under torture on December 9.

Based on available information, security agents did not allow Mr. Chaldavi’s family to conduct public burial and mourning rituals for him. They forced the family to bury him in Ahvaz’ La’natabad Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

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