An Arab-Iranian poet has been executed in Iran for “waging war on God” and threatening national security, human rights groups say.
Hashem Shaabani was executed in an unidentified prison in late January, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre writes.
He had been sentenced to death in July 2012 by the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court for muharibih (“waging war on God”), sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security, it adds.
Shaabani, a member of the Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority, was the founder of an organisation promoting Arabic culture and literature in Iran known as the Dialogue Institute and was popular for his Arabic and Persian poems, Al Jazeera reports.
It adds the 32-year-old often spoke out against the treatment of ethnic Arabs in the province of Khuzestan.
He was first arrested in 2011 and a year later he appeared on Iran’s state-owned Press TV, where following months of torture he was reportedly forced to confess to “separatist terrorism” and receiving assistance from Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi.
In a letter published by Ahwaz News Agency last year, Shaabani pleaded for the intervention of human rights organisations and insisted he had “never participated in any armed activity, whatever the motives.”
He added: “I started my journey wielding my pen against the tyranny that is trying to enslave and imprison minds and thoughts; colonising people’s minds before colonising their lands and destroying people’s thoughts before destroying their region.”
He insisted he could not have remained silent against “hideous crimes against Ahvazis perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions.”
The father-of-one stated: “I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.”
Shaabani had a Masters degree in Political Science, taught Arabic literature in high schools and organised “peace festivals” which were banned by the government. He published his poetry online under the nickname Abo Ala Al-Ofoghi.
Radio Free Europe says Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by supposed "moderate" President Hassan Rohani.
It also cites Freedom House as claiming he was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during the three years he spent in prison.