Families of prisoners in Ahvaz protest in front of the governor's office in Ahvaz, Iran April 16, 2018. Picture taken April 16, 2018. Families of the detainees/Handout via REUTERS
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Fifteen-year-old Ma'edeh Shabaninejad was arrested two months ago at her aunt's house in the southern city of Ahvaz, where she was hiding after security forces raided her own home and confiscated her poems, her father said.Arabs have long said they face discrimination in Iran, but two human rights groups say that hundreds of people have been arrested around Ahvaz in the last few weeks alone amid protests against water and power cuts, poverty and alienation.Ahvaz is the regional capital of the ethnically diverse southwestern Khuzestan province, home to most of Iran's Arabs.The Iranian government says it recognizes drought is a major problem and is doing what it can.Arab demonstrators say Iran should not be spending money in Syria, Iraq and Yemen while people at home are struggling.Official figures show joblessness in Khuzestan fell in recent years, but at 14.5 percent it is above Iran's 11.8 percent.Three activists said some of the arrests were linked to growing numbers of Iranian Arabs switching from Shiite Islam to Sunni Islam.
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