In Wake of Ahvaz Parade Attack, a Sweep of Arrests Sows Community Unease
- Editor: Sara
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Four days after the September 22nd armed attack on an Ahvaz military parade that left several civilians wounded, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has announced that it has 22 suspects in custody, backing its announcement with a video recording of blindfolded, unidentified detainees facing a wall.
Local sources have countered this official report, estimating the tally of those detained so far to be closer to 300. The majority of these arrests have taken place in the cities of Ahvaz, Khorramshahr, Susangerd, and Abadan, all located in Khuzestan province. HRANA is working to independently confirm the total number of arrests and the identities of those detained.
Security measures now loom large over the Arab-majority neighborhoods south of Khuzestan, local sources say, while the families of those detained have been unable to obtain any indication from authorities on the status or location of their loved ones.
Many of the recent arrestees have a previous track record with police, pointing to the possibility that security forces are attempting to pluck clues from past offenders about a recent incident.
Despite the urgency to hold the assailants accountable for wounding and killing civilians, including women and children, Iran’s security establishment is marred by a history of questionable investigative methods, raising public concern that innocent scapegoats may be subject to coercive interrogations in order to be impugned for the attacks. Iranian Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi has already made the public claim that “the terrorists who opened fire on the crowd have been killed,” adding, “Every single person behind the attack […] will be identified, and the majority of them have already been apprehended.”
On the day of the attack, a military parade in Ahvaz commemorating the Iran-Iraq war was interrupted when gunmen suddenly opened fire on soldiers and spectators. That day, Mojtaba Zolnour, a member of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security and foreign affairs, announced that 29 had died and 57 were wounded. Iran-based media agencies published a list of victims that included several civilians, including a 4-year-old child.
Both Al-Ahwaz National Resistance group and ISIS (Daesh) have claimed responsibility for the attack.