Archive for April, 2017

This text was written by Dyab Abu Jahjah in 2012. This is his site.
Relative to revolutions all around the world, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are historical miracles and a shining example of non-violent, civilized uprisings. The Yemeni revolution, in its insistence on non-violence and its discipline, is truly amazing, as is the revolution in Bahrain. The Syrian revolution, in its enormous sacrifices in the face of a ruthless killing machine, is a historical epic. The revolutions in Libya is an epitome of effectiveness.
We cannot just mention Libya in passing because the Libyan case has become the favorite example for conspiracy theorists and doubters in the revolution. It is true that the intervention by NATO is complicated and is definitely not innocent. But it is also true that the agenda of the Libyan revolutionaries is not identical to NATO’s agenda. This divergence will emerge slowly but surely because the relationship between the Libyan revolution and NATO is not one of submission. European powers wanted to secure the oil contracts that they had signed with Kaddafi and at the same time appear to support the Arab revolution after their shameful support for Ben-Ali and Mubarak to the very end. The Libyan revolutionaries wanted air cover in their confrontation with Kaddafi’s barbaric killing machine. and unfortunately no Arab or Islamic country was able to provide such a cover. Hence, a deal was struck, and we must look at this deal from the point of view of shared interests. In the end, Libya has been liberated and there are no occupation forces and no NATO mandate on Libya. As for the oil contracts, they are a matter of commerce because oil is nothing more than a commodity that is sold by the state based on the people’s interests; it does not represent our dignity or our honor. Isn’t it better for a free Libyan people to trade and cooperate with foreign countries to benefit itself rather than for a dictator like Kaddafi to do the same thing while oppressing his people for the benefit of himself and his sons with their many lovers?

A free people determines its path by itself and no one can claim any longer that a deranged tyrant knows his people’s interests better than the people. The alternative, for those who are always asking about alternatives, as if we were replacing one totalitarian government with another, is always the ballot box. What’s more important, and what is true in any region in the Arab World, is that foreign intervention is a small detail in the midst of the massive historical movement that the Arab revolution represents, which neither the reactionary oil oligarchies nor Western imperialism will be able to co-opt no matter how hard they try. The old regimes and their remnants will fail in their attempt to paint the Arab revolution as a western conspiracy to dethrone them because of their achievements in pursuing the interests of the people. The people know that the historical trend in our region is one of revolution, and they are aware of the West’s attempts to intervene and co-opt the revolution, but they are also capable of thwarting these attempts. In Syria, for example, the revolutionary forces have rejected military intervention and instead called for international protection and observers, and some insist on most being Arab, in spite of the enormous oppression and killing. Those who accuse the Syrian revolutionaries of being traitors are similar to someone who denies a seriously ill patient medicine because that medicine is made in Paris or London and is being distributed by United Nations agencies.

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The current Syrian flag

WRITTEN BY SHIBLI ZAMAN
All kinds of scum are defending Bashar al-Assad following his attack upon the people of Idlib with chemical weapons. I’ve had to respond to many of these heartless people who prefer their vacuous Alex Jones based conspiracy theories over human life but…seriously…at least 10 kids under the age of 11 died an excruciating death so I am just way too PISSED OFF to carry on. But I want to address this Russian LIE that they supposedly bombed a munitions depot where the rebels were storing Sarin gas.

Sarin gas is highly unstable and is easily rendered inert.

“Decomposes thermally to form a variety of phosphorus containing products as well as propylene. The rate of decomposition increases with increase in temperature, and in the presence of acids. At the boiling point of GB, under atmospheric conditions, decomposition is fairly rapid.”
[PubChem: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/sarin…]

The Russian account of having bombed a Sarin containing depot is scientifically impossible. If you bomb Sarin with incendiaries, it will be rendered INERT by the exceedingly high temperature of any blast. It just takes 150 °C to decompose Sarin into various forms of phosphorous. The average missle emits 2,480 °C (4,500 °F) which is way beyond what it would take to completely erase any Sarin.

Then these imbeciles are claiming that pictures of the White Helmets wearing only gas masks and no HAZMAT suits means there couldn’t have been a Sarin attack. Make up your minds! Either there was a gas attack or there wasn’t. Russia ADMITTED that Sarin was released upon the population because even they weren’t stupid enough to deny the overwhelmingly obvious! And to debunk this nonsense about the White Helmets not wearing Hazmat suits, by the time they and other personnel would have arrived in the area the Sarin would have dissipated. This is from the Center for Disease Control: “Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate, but short-lived, threat.” [https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/sarin/basics/facts.asp]

Finally, as Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment, said:

“Axiomatically, if you blow up Sarin, you destroy it…It’s very clear it’s a Sarin attack…The view that it’s an al-Qaeda or rebel stockpile of Sarin that’s been blown up in an explosion, I think is completely unsustainable and completely untrue.” [BBC]

So, the bottom line is that there are two versions of events here:

1) Tons of eye witnesses on the ground testify to the Russian/Syrian aerial bombardment of chemical weapons. There are PICTURES of the spent casings and tanks on the ground. The entire world knows Bashar and the Russians did it, and the SAA, Russia and Iran are the only people ON EARTH saying otherwise.

2) The SAA first released a statement saying they did nothing. That was a lie that Russia themselves ratted out when they admitted that they bombed Idlib. The first question is: Why were they bombing a residential area in Idlib? They claim that they were targeting a munitions depot that contained chemical weapons.

The SAA/Russian explanation is 100% a lie that can easily be proven by SCIENCE in that if they bombed a stockpile of Sarin gas, it would not release and kill everyone. It would be rendered completely inert and USELESS.

In the end you can’t argue with basic CHEMISTRY AND SCIENCE.

And there are a bunch of kids who choked to death on their own bodily fluids, and the fact that people are defending Bashar after that pisses me off immeasurably. So be warned: My tolerance level for nonsense when it comes to this tragic and painful subject is ZERO.

[The Hoaxer Project Report, pp. 39-41] WRITTEN BY LAIRD WILCOX

Robert F. Kennedy wrote:

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

In analyzing the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum, I have identified a number of specific traits or behaviors that tend to represent the extremist “style”…

1. CHARACTER ASSASSINATION.

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant , but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!

2. NAME-CALLING AND LABELING.

Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don’t have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.

3. IRRESPONSIBLE SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS.

Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects. The sloppy use of analogy is a treacherous form of logic and has a high potential for false conclusions.

4. INADEQUATE PROOF FOR ASSERTIONS.

Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as  post hoc ergo propter hoc  (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

5. ADVOCACY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.

Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours. They tend to engage in special pleading on behalf of themselves or their interests, usually because of some alleged special status, past circumstances, or present disadvantage.

6. TENDENCY TO VIEW THEIR OPPONENTS AND CRITICS AS ESSENTIALLY EVIL.

To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.

7. MANICHAEAN WORLDVIEW.

Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the “right” position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often “those who are not with me are against me.”

8. ADVOCACY OF SOME DEGREE OF CENSORSHIP OR REPRESSION OF THEIR OPPONENTS AND/OR CRITICS.

This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or “quarantining” dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing “subversive” or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for “offensive” views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control. Extremists would prefer that you listen only to them. They feel threatened when someone talks back or challenges their views.

9. TEND TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHO THEIR ENEMIES ARE: WHOM THEY HATE AND WHO HATES THEM.

Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence. To behave the opposite of someone is to actually surrender your will to them, and “opposites” are often more like mirror images that, although they have “left” and “right” reversed, look and behave amazingly alike.

10. TENDENCY TOWARD ARGUMENT BY INTIMIDATION.

Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to “ally oneself with the devil,” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.

11. USE OF SLOGANS, BUZZWORDS, AND THOUGHT-STOPPING CLICHES.

For many extremists shortcuts in thinking and in reasoning matters out seem to be necessary in order to avoid or evade awareness of troublesome facts and compelling counter-arguments. Extremists generally behave in ways that reinforce their prejudices and alter their own consciousness in a manner that bolsters their false confidence and sense of self-righteousness.

12. ASSUMPTION OF MORAL OR OTHER SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS.

Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority–a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special “elite” or “class,” and a kind of aloof “highminded” snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is “insensitive” enough to challenge these claims.

13. DOOMSDAY THINKING.

Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of “crisis-mindedness.” It can be a Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it’s just around the corner unless we follow their program and listen to the special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened have access. For extremists, any setback or defeat is the “beginning of the end!”

14. BELIEF THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO BAD THINGS IN THE SERVICE OF A “GOOD” CAUSE.

Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression, or undertake violence in “special cases.” This is done with little or no remorse as long as it’s in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an “enemy” becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.

15. EMPHASIS ON EMOTIONAL RESPONSES AND, CORRESPONDINGLY, LESS IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO REASONING AND LOGICAL ANALYSIS.

Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call “education” or “consciousness-raising.” Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically. Harold D. Lasswell, in his book, *Psychopathology and Politics*, says, “The essential mark of the agitator is the high value he places on the emotional response of the public.” Effective extremists tend to be effective propagandists. Propaganda differs from education in that the former teaches one what to think, and the latter teaches one how to think.

16. HYPERSENSITIVITY AND VIGILANCE.

Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see “latent” subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.

17. USE OF SUPERNATURAL RATIONALE FOR BELIEFS AND ACTIONS.

Some extremists, particularly those involved in “cults” or extreme religious movements, such as fundamentalist Christians, militant Zionist extremists, and members of mystical and metaphysical organizations, claim some kind of supernatural rationale for their beliefs and actions, and that their movement or cause is ordained by God. In this case, stark extremism may become reframed in a “religious” context, which can have a legitimizing effect for some people. It’s surprising how many people are reluctant to challenge religiously motivated extremism because it represents “religious belief” or because of the sacred-cow status of some religions in our culture.

18. PROBLEMS TOLERATING AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY.

Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or “rules” there are that regulate the behavior of others–particular their “enemies”–the more secure extremists feel.

19. INCLINATION TOWARD “GROUPTHINK.”

Extremists, their organizations, and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. “Groupthink” involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members’ observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.

Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the “propaganda” of the “other side.” The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.

20. TENDENCY TO PERSONALIZE HOSTILITY.

Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their “enemies,” and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they “deserved” it. I recall seeing right-wing extremists celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King and leftists agonizing because George Wallace survived an assassination attempt. In each instance their hatred was not only directed against ideas, but also against individual human beings.

21. EXTREMISTS OFTEN FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM IS NO GOOD UNLESS THEY WIN.

For example, if they lose an election, then it was “rigged.” If public opinion turns against them, it was because of “brainwashing.” If their followers become disillusioned, it’s because of “sabotage.” The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them…

Saeed al-Bahrani died in the hospital of Mahshor (Mahshahr) city

Saeed al-Bahrani, 39 year old community activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Rahim Hamid, Ahwazi freelance journalist and human rights activist based in the USA

An Iranian regime militia shot an unarmed wheelchair-bound disabled Ahwazi activist dead in front of his wife and children in their home, apparently “revenge” for his civil rights activism.

The armed group belonging to the Basiji (also known as Sāzmān-e Basij-e Mostaz’afin), one of the five forces of the ‘Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’, stormed into 39-year-old Saeed al-Bahrani’s house in the town of Koura in southern Ahwaz capital on Sunday evening, April 2, 2017, shooting him dead in front of his horrified wife and three children.  The regime militiamen gave no reason for their actions, with al-Bahrani’s wife and family having no legal recourse despite this brutal murder.

Saeed, aged 39, was a tireless community activist, a Sunni cleric and a widely admired and respected local figure in the poverty-stricken town, who spent much of his life engaged in campaigning for civil rights and freedom for the marginalised Ahwazi people.

Koura county is one of the most populated and deprived areas affiliated to Mahshahr port city, this port is the capital of petrochemical industry of Iran, however, its Arab locals denied any basic rights and employment in oil and gas petrochemical complexes  have been driven to live  in medieval poverty.

According to Ahwazi rights groups and activists, such cold-blooded murders of activists by the regime’s troops and militias are routine.  Ahwazi activists say that the continuing silence of UN and other international human rights organizations on the Iranian regime’s rule by terror, in which grotesque human rights abuses are just another tool of governance, effectively gives the regime carte blanche to continue.

Ahwazi Arab activists on 26 February 2017 has circulated an amateur video on social networking sites showing an Ahwazi citizen lying on the ground, having been shot at by an Iranian police officer in the Zaafaraniya district, west of the capital of Ahwaz.

The police shot at the young Ahwazi man ‘in cold blood’, hitting him in the right leg, when he refused to be searched by them.

The video shows the young man unconscious and soaked in blood, with a crowd of concerned and angry people around him, while the police sit in their patrol car nearby.

Sources confirmed that the police did not call an ambulance to take the injured man to hospital until some of the locals from the Zaafaraniya district intervened and took him to a hospital in Ahwaz City Centre themselves. There were conflicting reports about the injured man’s latest condition, with some saying he has died of his injuries.

This is the fourth time within the last few months that there has been an incident of this kind.  On 9 February of 2017, a random shooting by Iranian soldiers killed a young Ahwazi man in Falahiyeh City and another citizen was wounded in the city of Shush on Wednesday 22 February by Iranian intelligence.

Raghad Abbas, three-year-old victim.

Also, Ahwazi human rights activists have reported on October 27 2016 the murder of a three-year-old girl, Raghad Abbas (pictured), who died instantly on being shot through the heart as she sat in the back of her parents’ car when Iranian security forces opened fire indiscriminately on the vehicle on Monday October 24th.  Her father, Abbas Hassan Mashal Al-Sari, aged 41, who was driving the car, and her mother, Zahor Abdul-Sada Al-Sari, were also critically wounded in the shooting, which took place in the Alawi neighbourhood, a western suburb of the regional capital, Ahwaz. Neither of her parents were armed or involved in any illegal activities, and no reason has yet been given for the attack, nor has any apology been issued for the murder of the little girl.   Immediately after the brutal slaying, the security officers responsible dragged the injured, newly bereaved father, Abbas Hassan, from the vehicle and arrested him as his traumatized, also injured wife looked on, and as their daughter’s dead body sat in the back seat, before taking him to an undisclosed location.

The attack on the family’s vehicle was apparently part of another ongoing brutal crackdown by regime security forces on Ahwazi Arabs.

These random acts of violence are typical of the way the Iranian regime forces act in the Al-Ahwaz territories – taking pleasure in every opportunity to flaunt their complete control over every aspect of the civilians’ lives.

For years, the Ahwazi Arabs have been killed, shot, attacked, beaten, insulted and humiliated on a daily basis by the thugs of the Iranian regime, who act with impunity, secure in their knowledge that they have a carte blanche to act as they please.

As long as oil continues to flow from Ahwaz, many in the world seem quite prepared to turn a blind eye to the spilling of blood and shedding of tears of the dispossessed Ahwazi Arabs.

This is unacceptable. We pledge to continue to draw attention to the injustices being suffered by the Ahwazi Arab population until such time that justice and humanity will prevail.

For too long, Ahwazi Arabs have suffered in silence, the ultimate invisible victims. It is hard to understand just how isolated and betrayed the Ahwazi people feel, savagely persecuted by Iran for almost a century with the silent, treacherous complicity of the international community.  Compounding this problem is the media blackout surrounding events in  Ahwaz,  with the current regime’s effective hermetic sealing off of the region assisted by the collusion of the world which is either wholly indifferent or swallows the Iranian regime’s obscene lie of ‘resistance to occupation’ wholesale.

Ahwazis face vast challenges in bringing attention to the plight of the people in a world constantly preoccupied with “more pressing concerns” and a region awash in systemic violence, much of it directly or indirectly courtesy of the same regime responsible for their suffering.

Need to mention that the core attention of the majority of Iranian rights groups has broadly been devoted to spotlighting the violations that are committed against persons that live in Tehran capital and central Persian regions. These organizations in their written goals claim that they are seeking democracy, civil freedom and putting an end to racial oppression and discriminations but such stated objects have never been put into action when they deal with the human rights issues linked to Ahwazi Arabs as well as other ethnic groups. Until about two years ago, there has not been even a simple statement or action by Iranian human rights organizations denouncing the execution and persecution perpetrated against the Arab people of Ahwaz. Only after many actions carried by Ahwazi activists only two or three organizations, among dozens of Iranian human rights organizations, took action by revealing the human rights violations in Ahwaz. The other organizations engaged in ultra-racist duplicity to evade highlighting the Ahwazi plight.

Despite living in the region which holds over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran – the reason for the British backing of Iran’s  1925 annexation of Ahwaz in exchange for oil contracts – Ahwazi Arabs live in medieval poverty under an effective apartheid system, being viewed as inferiors due to their Arab ethnicity; most of the population exists below the poverty line, with limited or no access to jobs, education, healthcare, or even basic utilities such as electricity and gas or running water.

crop,750x427,2329709549reprinted from BALADI NEWS

On December 13, the Russian propaganda website Sputnik tweeted a photo captioned “Syrian Army prepares to retake Palmyra.” The image showed four men on a truck assembling munitions. One wore an Afghan flag as a headscarf, and another was identified as a member of the Hazara Shia minority in Afghanistan.

A month later, as ISIS assaulted Syrian regime positions at Khanaser southeast of Aleppo, an Afghan member of the Fatemiyoun brigade shot a video showing Afghans waiting for airstrikes to help push ISIS back.

The often-forced participation of Afghans is one of the great untold stories of the Syrian Civil War. It is estimated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has sent between 18,000-30,000 Shia Afghans to fight in Syria on the side of the Assad regime since 2015. This is part of the IRCG’s effort to shore up their frontlines after six years of bloody combat against numerous Sunni rebel groups. It is also part of a wider alliance of Shia militias, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, that have poured thousands of fighters into Syria. However, unlike Hezbollah or Iraqi supporters of the Syrian regime, the role of the Afghan recruits is complicated and tragic. There is compelling evidence that they are victims of human trafficking, recruited and exploited by Iran, and then sent to Syria to die in a foreign war.

The Hazara Shia are a Persian-speaking religious and ethnic minority located mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Often persecuted, they usually end up in Iran after fleeing violence elsewhere. For example, they are victims of constant terror by Sunni jihadist groups in Pakistan. In February 2013, more than 100 were killed in a bombing in Quetta, which has been a frequent target. In June 2015, half a dozen were murdered and three businesses owned by Shia attacked. Similar attacks occurred in April and November 2015. In October 2016, gunmen shot up a bus and killed several Hazara women in Quetta. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni jihadist group, claimed the attack was in response to the Afghan Shia’s role in the battle of Aleppo. On January 6, five Shia were murdered in a drive-by shooting. Al-Jazeera called the constant attacks on Shia in Pakistan a “sustained, targeted campaign of killings,” carried out by jihadists “once allied to the Pakistani state.” Caught up in this cauldron, Hazaras flee to Iran, where Iranian intelligence scoops them up and gives young men an offer they can’t refuse: Go die in Syria for the Ayatollah.

Afghanistan also has a population of several million Hazaras, who have been the subject of brutal persecution since the 19th century. Under the Taliban in the 1990s, they were subjected to discrimination and violence. Taliban commander Maulawi Mohammed Hanif told followers, “Hazaras are not Muslims; you can kill them.” As the Taliban creeps back toward Kabul, it has been targeting them again. In July 2016, more than 60 Hazaras were murdered in a bomb attack on a Hazara rights protest, and in November, their Baqir ul Olum mosque in Kabul was blown up. Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University believes that the ISIS attack might be “payback for Hazara fighting in Syria.” Clearly, a particularly vicious cycle exists: Iran uses Hazara Shia, rather than Iranians, to fight in Syria; this puts the Hazaras in danger of retaliation; this in turn forces Hazaras to flee to Iran, where they are recruited or forced to fight in Syria, beginning the cycle over again.

The Hazaras have suffered numerous casualties in Syria, where they are often referred to as “cannon fodder” or “meat shields” for the regime. In November 2016, a Syrian rebel Twitter account showed an image of a man they had captured who they claimed was an “Afghan.” Afghan army IDs and bank cards were found on other prisoners, sometimes with English on them. Their owners had died in Aleppo during 2016, and in some cases it is alleged they were child soldiers. Afghan parents have been interviewed who said they were surprised to find their sons had gone to Syria. One woman told BBC Pashto that her son left Kabul for Iran to find work and was sent to Syria and killed. By July 2015, more than 700 had been killed, according to an Iranian news website.

In 2013, two years after protests broke out against Assad and the civil war began, observers first mentioned the Hazara community in Syria in the context of migrants. They were living near the Sayyida Zainab shrine in Damascus as refugees. At the time there were several thousand. Their participation in the fighting was first noticed online in January 2014. By the following year, the IRGC-run Fatemiyoun brigade, made up of Hazaras, had been formed, and photos of its fighters were being circulated online.

How are they recruited? In the beginning, Iran enticed young men through cash. Afghans guarding the Sayyida Zainab shrine were described by The New York Times as facing “little choice if they wanted to support their families [back home].” In a tweet on January 27, Qalaat Al Mudiq, an academic and military analyst, wrote that Afghans are paid $600 per month and sent to Syria on regularly organized flights. Journalist Mirwais Afghan claimed in June 2016 that the amount was $450 per month. One woman told The Wall Street Journal that her brother was lured to a recruitment office in Mashhad. He received 20 days of training and religious indoctrination before being flown to Damascus. He was killed in November 2014. Another woman told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn that her 35-year-old husband was promised $750 a month and an Iranian residency permit. A report in The Guardian found the Iranian embassy in Kabul was paying middlemen to recruit fighters. The Christian Science Monitor interviewed an Afghan man in June 2016 who said recruiters from the IRGC’s Basij militia used to visit him daily to encourage him to go, saying, “We will send you to Syria and when you come back we will give you an Iranian passport, a house, and money.”

Most Afghans said they were sent on “suicide missions” and that “Afghan lives have no value” to their IRGC commanders. Recruits said that in Iran many Afghans were coerced and threatened with being kidnapped or killed if they didn’t sign up. When Afghans die, their families are told their sons are “martyrs” and promised money, which never arrives.

A BBC investigation in April revealed that many Afghan recruits flee their units and try to get to the EU. One man said he was born in Isfahan, Iran, to Afghan refugees and lived as a second-class citizen. Then the IRCG came and promised him a passport if he went to Syria. Once he joined, he received two weeks of training. The Iranian commanders took his cellphone. He said he was sent to take a sector. If the sector were taken, he was told, he and his fellow soldiers were to hand it over to their Syrian army allies.

Another Afghan in Greece—one of 200,000 who came to Europe in 2015—told the BBC that he was arrested in Iran. At the Asgar Abad detention camp, he was offered the chance to be deported to Afghanistan or go to Syria. After a year of service in Syria, he didn’t receive a promised Iranian residency permit, but was threatened with deportation if he didn’t go back to Syria. He deserted like many thousands of others and fled to the EU.

Iran has employed other methods as well, such as recruitment videos and religious propaganda. France24 has reported that Shia clerics were dispatched by Iran to aid in the recruitment. Sometimes outright violence is used. “One 17-year-old said he had been forced to fight without being given the opportunity to refuse,” the NGO Human Rights Watch reported.

There is unquestionably a large recruiting pool for Iran to exploit. There were more than two million Afghan refugees in Iran in 2016, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. One of those refugees was a man named Murad who was captured by Syrian rebels. He told Der Spiegel’s Christoph Reuter that he was arrested in Iran and falsely accused of selling drugs. “For fifteen days he was beaten and whipped,” Reuter wrote. Then one day at Evin Prison in Tehran, Murad received a visitor wearing the IRGC’s green uniform. “Do you want the final five years of your sentence commuted?” the man asked. Soon Murad was off to Syria to fight.

In May 2016, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the families of the Afghans who had fallen in Syria. “Martyrs who die on this path are privileged,” he told his audience. “In fact your children have created a shield with their life to protect the holy shrines from these evil [forces]. Therefore their status is very important.” Iran denies the Afghans are mercenaries or coerced. The IRGC claims that they go to Syria for religious and patriotic reasons.

But the evidence proves that the IRGC has been targeting tens of thousands of vulnerable people to fight Assad’s war in Syria. Recruiters are paid a commission by the Iranian government to target Afghans rather than Iranians. The government has established a deep network throughout Hazara communities in Iran and Afghanistan, targeting the poor and those seeking work. It has lured them from Pakistan. In Iran it uses coercion by threatening those who refuse with deportation. It also offers passports and residency permits that it does not provide, hoping that the fighters will die as “martyrs” before they ask for compensation. It also recruits prisoners, paying them less than other recruits and promising them time off their sentences. It flies the recruits back and forth to Syria on civilian planes used by the IRGC. The Afghans have no travel documents, which means they are controlled entirely by the IRGC while in Syria and cannot flee. Underage teens are also recruited.

Clearly, Iran’s recruitment of refugees and asylum seekers violates UN guidelines that call on nations to “prevent the military recruitment of refugees in camps and settlements” and to “ensure that measures are taken to prevent the recruitment of refugees by government armed forces or organized armed groups.” This amounts to human trafficking.

The IRGC controls large parts of the Iranian economy and is intertwined with the leading political and military institutions of the state. Its direct and documented involvement in the violation of the rights of refugees provides more evidence of why it should be designated a terrorist organization. The Trump administration was discussing designating the IRGC in early February; the abuse of Afghan refugees adds evidence in support of the need for the U.S. and the international community to recognize Iran’s misdeeds. By providing payment and transport to Afghans who are sent to Syria under the command structure of the IRGC, Iran is also violating the Geneva Convention as spelled out in the Protocol Additional of June 1977 regarding the use of mercenaries as combatants in war.

New sanctions should be put on Iran, including sanctions specifically targeting the IRGC. The international community should target areas of the Iranian economy linked to the use and abuse of Afghan refugees, such as Iran’s use of commercial and other flights to move them back and forth. The U.S. should also call for an investigation into abuses committed by the IRGC in Syria, and members of the International Criminal Court should call for an investigation into the role and exploitation of Hazara Afghans as part of a wider probe into human rights violations in the Syrian conflict. Only by holding Iran accountable for its actions, rather than welcoming Iranian diplomats as was done by former Secretary of State John Kerry, can Iran be put on notice that its continued behavior does not put it above the law. The IRGC has continually flaunted national and international laws. The case of the Afghan refugees sent to die in Syria sheds a light on how Iran can finally be held to account.