Ahvaz human rights activists report that the arrests comes ahead of the April 15 anniversary of protests held in 2005, during which dozens of protesters were killed and wounded.
The 2005 protests were triggered when a letter reportedly leaked from the president’s office was published, revealing that the administration was planning to change the demographics of Khuzestan’s local Arab population and and breaking up the dense concentration of Arab residents in the region. The government claimed the letter was fraudulent and denied the charges.
Human rights activists report that in addition to the wave of arrests, search checkpoints have been set up in various parts of Arab neighbourhoods, all Revolutionary Guards garrisons have been placed on alert, and Arab soldiers have been sent on leave.
Also this week, the Revolutionary Court issued a death sentenced for Aref Hamidian, which reportedly has already reached the execution stage.
Hamidian, a Khuzestan Arab, was arrested in 2010 and held in solitary confinement for more than six months at the Ministry of Intelligence office in Ahvaz. He has been denied access to a lawyer throughout his imprisonment.
In late March, Iranian authorities also arrested more than 50 farmers in the Arab regions of Iran who were protesting against the National Oil Company’s confiscation of their lands.
Human rights sources report that scores of activists have been arrested in the region over the past year, and at least three were killed under torture.