Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Hashem Shabaninejad, Hadi Rashedi, Mohammad Ali Amourinejad, Jaber and Mokhtar Alboshoka – death row prisoners and Rahman Asakareh, sentenced to 20 years in prison, have launched a hunger strike from behind bars.
According to CHRR, on March 2nd these prisoners launched a hunger strike in protest of their circumstances in Karoun prison in Ahvaz and in retaliation, their phone privileges were taken away rendering them incommunicado.
Hashem Shabaninejad is a poet, blogger, teacher of Arabic literature with a masters degree in political science from Ahwaz University; Hadi Rashed, has an M.A. in applied chemistry and is a chemistry teacher; Mohammad Ali Amourinejad is a blogger, student activist and former member of the Islamic Society of Isfahan University of Technology; Jaber Alboshoka is a computer science major and private in the military; Mokhtar Alboshoka is a worker at a stone mining company. All 5 men are Ahwazi Arab minority members from the southern province of Khuzestan. They were all members of the Al-Hiwar scientific-cultural institute, a group that has experienced harassment and many arrests.
On July 7, 2012 Branch 2 of the Ahwaz Revolutionary Court handed down death sentences to these five civil activists on the charges of “moharebeh” (enmity with God), “propaganda against the regime,” and “endangering national security.” On January 9, 2013 their families were notified that the death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court. In June 2012, four Ahwazi Arabs, three of whom were brothers, were executed on similar charges.
The Ahwazi Arab prisoners have maintained their innocence, stating that they were forced into false confessions under severe duress. Family members said in an interview with CHRR that the prisoners were held in solitary confinement for months, subjected to verbal epithets, abuse and intense physical torture to extract false confessions that were later retracted.