Human rights monitors are concerned over the reported detention of hundreds of ethnic Turkmen by Iranian authorities. The detentions followed the killing of an ethnic Turkmen fisherman, Husamettin Khadivar, by Iranian maritime security officers on December 28th.
According to the U.S. State Department, about two percent of Iran’s population, over one-million-three-hundred-thousand people, are ethnic Turkmen. Mr. Khadivar was fishing without a license in the Caspian sea near the Iranian city of Bandar-e Torkman.
Abdulgafur Setaesh is Director of the Center for Human Rights of Turkmenstan of Iran, a Canada-based human rights monitoring group. Mr. Setaesh said friends and relatives of the young fisherman protested the killing to Iranian military authorities:
“After two days of mourning, four-hundred or five-hundred people goes to Chapaqli military center [base] and asks why? This is an eighteen-year-old young person. Why did you kill him? Now his family is without any food. Here, as usual, they [Iranian authorities] started to hit people.”
Mr. Setaesh said Iranian security forces attacked the crowd. According to Amnesty International, “dozens of Turkmen protestors are said to have been injured, and two-hundred to three-hundred were arrested in villages in the region.” Amnesty International said the detainees were reportedly not told the reason for their arrest.
According to Amnesty International, “scores, if not hundreds of Turkmen have reportedly been taken to Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan province, possibly to make it harder for families to find out what has happened to them.” Amnesty International says two of the detainees, Jamshid Arazpour and Haji Aman Khadivar, are believed to be held incommunicado in Golestan province and “are at risk of torture.”
President George W. Bush said, “Iran’s rulers oppress good and talented people.” Mr. Bush said that the U.S. “message to the people of Iran is clear: we have no quarrel with you. We respect your traditions and your history. We look forward to the day when you have your freedom.”