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Intelligence Ministry Violently Arrests Teenage Ethnic Arab Activist in Khuzestan

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Iranhumanrights.org - Ali Kab-Aomair, a 17-year-old ethnic Arab activist, has been held incommunicado since he was violently arrested on February 8, 2017 by agents of the Intelligence Ministry in Ahwaz, Khuzestan Province (southwestern Iran). The agents, who broke Kab-Aomair's arm while arresting him, were watching Kab-Aomair for at least a month before they detained him, his cousin told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Mohammad Kab-Aomair, Ali Kab-Aomair's paternal cousin, said that Ali Kab-Aomair was summoned by phone to the Intelligence Ministry's office in Ahwaz and questioned about his activism and ethnicity before being arrested.

"Ali went there and the officials asked him why he wore traditional Arab clothing in rallies for the protection of the Karoon River and carried signs in Arabic," he told the Campaign on February 12. "The officials told him that his friends had been arrested for carrying Arabic banners in Al-Ghadir Stadium in Ahwaz (during a soccer match) to protest Iran's support for the war in Syria."

"The officials wanted to scare him so that he wouldn't go to protest rallies again," added Mohammad Kab-Aomair. "As a matter of fact, Ali was very careful and had even deleted photos from his Instagram page that showed him in traditional Arab clothing because the officials are very sensitive about it, but they suddenly raided his home and arrested him."

Iran's security establishment, including the Intelligence Ministry and Revolutionary Guards, view any form of domestic activism—especially by non-Persians who could be accused of harboring separatist ambitions—as a potential threat to the Islamic Republic and often arrest activists on trumped up charges to silence them.

"The agents raided Ali's home on February 8 without warning," Mohammad Kab-Aomair told the Campaign. "They searched the whole house and confiscated computers, books and Ali's mobile phone."

"Then they wanted to take Ali with them, but the family protested and after Ali resisted, the agents resorted to violence and broke his arm in front of his family and took him away by force," he added. "When Ali's mother saw this, she fainted and her husband took her to the hospital."

Mohammad Kab-Aomair, who lives in Denmark, also told the Campaign that the ministry's office in Ahwaz has warned Ali Kab-Aomair's father that he could also be arrested if he doesn't stop enquiring about his son.

A high school student based in the Kianabad neighborhood of Ahwaz, Ali Kab-Aomair has peacefully demonstrated against air pollution and in favor of water preservation. He has also peacefully protested against Iran's involvement in the Syrian civil war and frequently posted about environmental and political issues on social media.

"His family just wants to know where he is and what he has been charged with, but no one is answering," said Mohammad Kab-Aomair.

"Ali's father called me on the phone and said he's burning with anxiety," he added. "Ali is the family's first child and they are very worried about him."

"They are worried he might be tortured," he said.

Environmental activist Zakiya Neysi, who had also peacefully campaigned to save the Karoon River from drying up, was arrested on May 16, 2016 by Iran's Intelligence Ministry in Ahwaz and only released after her father signed a letter pledging not to allow his daughter to participate in "protests without a permit."