A woman from Iran’s Arab community disappeared after arrest yesterday. Such conditions jeopardize her physical security.

AI Index: MDE 13/152/2008

UA 286/08
Incommunicado detention / Fear of torture or other ill-treatment
20 October 2008


Jamila Nabgan (f), aged 43

Jamila Nabgan, a member of the Arab minority in Iran was arrested at her home on 19 October by officers from the Ministry of Intelligence. Her whereabouts are unknown and she is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

At 6am on 19 October 2008 plainclothes officers from the Ministry of Intelligence searched Jamila Nabgan's family home in the town of Shush, Khuzestan province, for about an hour and a half before arresting her. Her arrest seems linked to the help the Iranian authorities believe she gave to her sister-in-law, Ma’soumeh Ka’bi to flee Iran in May 2008. Ma’soumeh Ka’bi and her five children were forcibly returned to Iran from Syria on 27 September 2008 (See UA 279/08, MDE 13/147/2008, 10 October 2008).

Jamila Nabgan, wife of Ali Chaab and the mother of seven children, was previously arrested in May 2008 and held for two days at the Intelligence Ministry detention facility in Ahwaz and questioned about her sister-in-law’s flight to Syria. She is also the sister of Habib Nabgan, a prominent member of the Lejnat al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), a political party which promotes the rights of the Arab minority in Iran. Habib Nabgan was resettled as a refugee in Denmark two years ago.


Much of the Arab community in Iran lives in the province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq. The Arab minority in Iran have complained of discrimination, including in access to resources, as well as forced evictions. There were mass demonstrations in April 2005, after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity. Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in June and October 2005, which killed at least 14 people and explosions at oil installations in September and October 2005, hundreds of people were arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arrests. At least 17 men have now been executed as a result of their alleged involvement in the bombings. It is not clear if another man was executed or died in custody.

Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution states: “The official language and script of Iran… is Persian… However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.” Lejnat Al-Wefaq was established in 1999 to promote the rights of the Arab minority in Iran, including linguistic and cultural rights, but the party was declared illegal on 4 November 2006, and a statement from the Ahvaz Prosecutor's office said that “membership and connection with that party will be severely confronted."


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