ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iran has executed the 22 people it arrested in late September for alleged involvement in a deadly shooting at a military parade in the southern city of Ahvaz, multiple sources told two rights groups on Sunday.
"It seems that authorities executed all of them on Thursday," one of the sources told Iran Human Rights (IHR). After the executions, the group said, authorities "told the prisoners’ families" of the hangings in Ahvaz Central Prison (ACO) and warned them "against public mourning."
Multiple activists also told a second group, Iran Human Rights Monitor (I-HRM), that Ahvaz's Ministry of Intelligence Office phoned some of the families of the prisoners and informed them of their relatives' executions.
Iranian officials later said they were unaware of the executions but stopped short of denying that they had taken place in comments to the press.
Khuzestan Province's governor, Gholamreza Shariati, said on Monday, "It is the first time I hear news of executions of individuals related to the Ahvaz incident. I have no news about this to inform you."
On Sep. 22, four men dressed in military uniform opened fire on a viewing stand where Iranian officials were seated to observe a procession held yearly to mark the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The attack resulted in the deaths of 25, twelve of which were members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Dozens more were injured.
After the incident, the Islamic State (IS) published a statement on their propaganda website, Amaq agency, in which they claimed responsibility for the attack. A day later, they posted a video as alleged proof.
In response, the Aerospace Force Division of the IRGC launched several ballistic missiles into eastern Syria, later saying they had killed multiple IS members in the operation. An Iraqi commander of a militia in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), many of which receive direct backing from Iran, claimed while speaking to local media that the strikes nearly missed the organization's elusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Weeks later, the IRGC also said that they had killed five "terrorists," one of whom they asserted was the "mastermind" behind the attack, in Iraq's Diyala Province.
However, well before IS' initial statement on the attack, an Iranian Arab opposition group announced that they, in fact, had coordinated the parade shooting. The group, known as the Ahvaz National Resistance, claims to represent Iran's Arab community that has "long been neglected by the central government" and has poorer living standards in comparison to the rest of Iran.
Since the attack, security forces have arrested nearly 800 people, alleging connections to the parade attack. Some of the detainees have been transferred to unknown locations and most of them have previously been reported to be ethnically Arab Iranians.
Editing by John J. Catherine