Burning of Nawars coffee shop in the city of Ahwaz
By: Saida Ali Hammadi
Lack and poor access to water, enforced disappearances, intimidation and blackmailing families of the activists, fabricating drug-related accusations and many other techniques are familiar to Ahwazi people and the other non-Persian in Iran who executed by the secret agencies belonging to the revolutionary guard. However, targeting political and human rights activists through blowing up cafes is a whole different level, in which make a question for activists of the reasons behind targeting coffee shops in Ahwaz by the Iranian intelligence services.
It is necessary to clarify the fact that targeting young activists by blowing them up in cafes is an act of intelligence to target activists in Ahwaz because these cafés are popular and welcoming among the younger generation; they are an appropriate place for activists to engage in cultural work, especially in areas such as Hai al-Thawra (Koye Alawi), which suffers from systematic poverty, and the ongoing protests against the regime. Therefore, targeting the cafe in such areas is a suitable opportunity for the Iranian intelligence services to get rid of activists in Ahwaz.
40 days after the burning of the Nawras cafe that caused 14 dead and 16 seriously injured. However, we all see the news about the Nawras cafe exploding, but what is really important and not mentioned in the news is the issue related to the role of the IRGC in that catastrophic massacre. The news that has been blocked and the whole world needs to know about this crime, which reminds us of the crime of burning the Rex cinema in Abadan in 1979 by the mullahs before the victory of the revolution against the Shah.
Couple of days after starting of Ahwazi uprising in March 2018 “intelligence organisation of Army of the Guardians of Islamic Revolution”, in coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, appointed a veteran local colonel named Hamid Bit Mashaal to recruit 20 Basij agents of turning the peaceful protests into violent; a tactic known as fake diamond (Almase Farib) in order to prevent the continuation of protests in Ahwaz.
The uprising resulted in the arrest of more than 450 activists, but despite the presence of massive pressures continued protests with the increase in the number of demonstrators to reach 5,000 demonstrators in the city of Ahwaz itself and widening in the scope of demonstrations to reach other cities. Leading the IRGC to realise the necessity of targeting the main organisers, after identifying them, Colonel Bit Mashaal recruited a 17-year-old boy named Mohammad Mahzon Nizad (Kanani) by targeting the cafe.
Colonel Bit Mashaal urged Mohammad Kanani to spy on the activists who have been organising for the protests while they were gathering at the Nawras cafe, but Hasan Haidari and Adel Afri were suspected Mohammed’s behaviour because of his frequent questions about the protests. To avoid leaking details of their meetings, Mohammed was prevented from coming to the cafe.
Therefore, Colonel Bit Mashaal, on a mission, instructed Mohammad to try to give him instructions that if they prevented him from entering the cafe he should threaten them to death. As expected, he was unable to obtain any information and collect it. The next day, the witnesses saw Col. Bit Mashaal, who was carrying Mohammad near the Nawras cafe, pulling a barrel of gasoline from the Mashaal’s car. Mohammad went to the cafe alone, burned the cafe and killed the activists.
The most interesting thing is that Mohammed’s friends revealed his intentions to travel abroad and before the carnage, he told them he had found a way to finance his travel, but gave no details about the financing method. In fact, it was a big shock to his friends because the financial situation of Mohammad’s family would not be able to afford the cost of such step. Therefore, the Revolutionary Guards promised Mohammad that they would help him escape abroad. These details reveal how the Revolutionary Guard can persuade this teenager to commit such a terrible act and stand in front of the camera and lying that it was merely revenge.
Although the young activists were aware that cafes are not the most suitable places to gather and discuss state opposition related topics; cafes remain more appropriate option than their houses; since the young Ahwazi activists has long experience when it comes down to the raids done by Iranian secret agencies on their houses. However any claim regarding the exploitation of violence related reputation of those areas by the secret agency to discredit activists that frequent in the cafes of those areas wouldn’t be something tangible; even Ahwazi at the beginning and despite the warnings of some activists find it hard to believe that the secret services might be behind these bombings. One of the reasons is that in each time these agencies succeed in fabricating some lame excuses that are up to some extend convincing among the Ahwazi Arab; for instance a cafe fire had happened in December 2017 in Hai Althawra in which 5 young activists lost their lives.