Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Mohammad Ka'bi


Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: February 2, 2012
Location of Killing: Shush, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Death in custody

About this Case

Information about Mr. Mohammad Ka’bi was taken from an announcement of Human Rights Watch (2/7/2012), the Justice for Iran Organization (2/20/2012), Roozonline (6/26/2012) and Deutsche Welle Farsi (2/4/2013).

Additional information about these protests has been gathered from interviews conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, with several eyewitnesses and from a report by Milan Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, as well as reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Ahvaz Human Rights Organization, Ahvaz News Agency, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), and news websites including the BBC and Gooya News.* 

Mr. Mohammad Ka’bi, 35, was married with two children, five and eight years old. He was a law student at Azad University in Dezful. Mr. Ka’bi was a farmer and a resident of Ahmadabad in Shush. (Justice for Iran)

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 Kui-e Alavi (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) 

On April 15, 2011, the sixth anniversary of the 2005 protests and shortly after the rise of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, demonstrations of “A Day of Anger” were organized (in solidarity with the “Day of Anger” demonstrations in other Arab countries of the region) in the regions of Khuzestan Province’s with predominantly Arab residents. In Hamidieh and Ahvaz, demonstrations were more widespread and were, therefore, violently quashed by security and police forces, resulting in at least twelve dead and more than twenty injured. (Human Rights Defenders) Additionally, hundreds of other Arab citizens were arrested. International human rights organizations condemned the suppression of demonstrations and the ban on news coverage by Iranian authorities, and asked the Islamic Republic authorities to allow journalists and human rights organizations to independently investigate and freely send reports in order to identify the victims of the demonstrations in Ahvaz and other cities of Khuzestan with predominantly Arab residents. (Reporters Without Borders, April 23, 2011, Human Rights Watch, April 29, 2011) 

Around mid- to late January, 2012, popular unrest and protests broke out again in the towns of Shoosh, Hamidieh, and some sections of Ahvaz. These protests were the result of widespread arrests, by security forces, of young people in various towns of Khuzestan Province, including Shoosh and Hamidieh, who had engaged in the extensive writing of slogans in support of the Arab Spring, calling on the population to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections (on March 2, 2012). In the celebration of Shoosh Danial, on the occasion of Arba’een mourning rituals on January 13, 2012 a number of young people started chanting slogans in support of the region’s Arab population and of the boycott of the parliamentary elections. Subsequently, security forces arrested dozens of Shoosh youth. Protests and arrests continued on the following days in Shoosh, Hamidieh, and Ahvaz, with particularly popular protests in Shoosh. In the course of the late January and early February 2012 unrest, at least two of the detainees died in the detention centers of the Ahvaz Office of the Ministry of Information. (Human Rights Watch, February 7, 2012) 

Arrest and detention 

Mr. Mohammad Ka’bi was arrested by agents of the Shush Intelligence Office, along with his father, Jasem, and his sister, Khadijeh, on January 21, 2012. His arrest coincided with the mass arrest of young people in the Arab quarters of Shush, Hamidieh, and Ahvaz, during January and February of the same year.  According to the Human Rights Watch, these arrests took place following the widespread display of slogans in support of the Arab Spring and the boycotting of the upcoming parliamentary elections across these cities.   


Based on the available information, Mr. Ka'bi was not tried in any court.   


No information is available concerning the charges against Mr. Ka’bi 

Evidence of guilt 

The report does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant. 


Mr. Ka’bi was not tried and he had no opportunity to defend himself.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Mohammad Ka’bi’s Case

According to available information, Mr. Ka’bi died at the Ministry of Information’s security detention center. The relevant authorities did not reveal his cause of death and buried the body without his family’s knowledge. Given these security detention centers’ conditions and the sensitive aspect thereof, a majority of the spots and various locations at these detention centers are under close and constant closed circuit camera monitoring. Discovering the truth, and determining whether the defendant committed suicide or not, was, therefore, a very simple task. Not conducting sufficient investigations in this regard, and Information agents burying the victim’s body, is most definitely not an ordinary and routine occurrence. Therefore, the actions taken by the security and judicial authorities are indicative of the fact that these officials were engaged in a cover-up, since pursuant to the law, when a death occurs, and it is considered not due to natural causes, a judicial case must be opened to determine the cause of death. Considering that the death occurred in a security detention center and that the agents of said detention center had engaged in burying the deceased on their own, it was absolutely necessary to open a judicial case and to conduct the necessary investigations. One can see that legal requirements regarding conducting investigations prior to burying the body were not fulfilled, nor were any investigations conducted into discovering the actual cause of death. 


According to the available information, no official ruling was issued against Mr. Mohammad Ka’bi. The Intelligence Office of Shush contacted Mr. Ka’bi’s family and informed them of his death on February 2, 2012. According to a person close to him, his family had had no news of him since he was arrested. An agent of the Intelligence Office informed Mr. Ka’bi’s family that the security authorities buried him and warned them not to have any mourning ceremonies. They did not offer any information regarding his burial location, the cause of his death, or how Mr. Ka’bi was killed.


*Sources: Interviews conducted by the Boroumand Foundation with several Arab civil activists, political prisoners in Ahvaz, and eyewitnesses of the protests, The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing (E/CN.4/2006/41/Add.2, 21 March 2006) and his press conference in Tehran (IRIN, 9 August 2005, Tehran), Statements by Amnesty International (May 17, 2006; April 20, 2005), Human Rights Watch ( May 10, 2005; February 15, 2007), Ahvaz Human Rights Organization, European Ahwazi Human Rights organization, Arab National Democratic Movement of Ahvaz, Ahvaz News Agency (April 25, 2005), IRNA (April 16 and 23, 2005), ISNA (April 19, 2005; May 3, 2005), BBC ( April 16 and 25, 2005), Gooya News (April 21, 2005), brwska news, Iran and Jomhuri-e Eslami newspapers. 
** The “Committee for Organizing Popular Protests in Ahvaz” was a committee consisting of different political groups, including the “Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement In Ahwaz” and the “Wefaq Party,” and civil and cultural institutions such as the “Amjad Institute” and “Al-Shorouq,” as well as Arab civil activists.  The first critical statement by the “Arab National Democratic Movement of Ahvaz” was issued on April 9, 2005. 

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