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Ahwazis with UNPO at Geneva

Ahwazis with UNPO at Geneva

Ahwazi and other members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) are co-operating to put pressure on the UNCHR during its 61st session this week.

Several UNPO members, including the Ahwazis, have submitted formal written statements to the UNCHR, which will form part of the documentation material distributed under the various agenda items being discussed by the Commission. Meanwhile, the UNPO is facilitating meetings with UN officials to put indigenous and minority rights at the top of the UNCHR agenda.

Yesterday, Ahwazi delegates met with other UNPO members for a closed session at the UN's Palais des Nations, where they discussed areas of common ground and strategies to advance the goal of self-determination for all indigenous and minority groups. The UNPO meeting was attended by Members representing Ahwaz, Cabinda, Iraqi Turkmen and Southern Cameroons, as well as members of the UNPO Secretariat.

Representatives from the nations and peoples of Buffalo River, Eastern Turkestan, Khmer's Kampuchea-Krom, Ogoni, Oromo and Shan - all UNPO members - are also attending the UNCHR session.

For more information on UNPO, click here.
Ahwazi Women's Rights at the UN

Ahwazi Women's Rights at the UN

Ahwazi representatives met with UN officials on 22 March to bring international attention to the violence, poverty and illiteracy of indigenous Ahwazi women in Iran.

A delegation, including Mansour Silawi-Ahwazi of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz and Sanjukta Ghosh representing the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, met at the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) with Associate Human Rights officer Federica Donati and assistant to the Rapporteur Lucinda O'Hanlon.

In the meeting, organised by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) and supported by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, delegates discussed a broad range issues focussing on the psychological and physical torture inflicted on indigenous women of Al Ahwaz, their exposure to the dangers of landmines, extreme poverty, lack of education and unemployment. The delegates also talked about the need of empowering women in post-conflict situations and in the current context of Iran's militarisation of the province. The discussion has boosted Ahwazi lobbying process at the UN level and is certain to have an impact on the treatment of Ahwazi women by the regime in Tehran.

Following the meeting, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society will submit statistics and case studies requiring urgent action to Yakin Erturk, the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, prior to her submission of her report on Iran. The delegates are also looking into the possibility of using the urgent appeal mechanism for specific cases within the UN system.

For more information on women's rights and the OHCHR, click here.
Urgent appeal to UNHCR

Urgent appeal to UNHCR

Ahwazi human rights activists sent an urgent appeal this week to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees over the safety and security of Ahwazi refugees living in southern Iraq.

In an open letter to Commissioner Ruud Lubbers (pictured), the Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation warned of the "dire situation" faced by thousands of refugees, who are registered with the UNHCR and the Red Cross.

There are as many as 10 people to a tent, with the situation of over-crowding and disease worsening following the outbreak of the Iraq War two years ago.

"During the past two years, they have been expelled from their camps in the Kut and Al-Amarah areas of southern Iraq; their homes and businesses were looted and burned by armed militias under the control of Iranian security forces in southern Iraq," said the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, which works in co-operation with the British Ahwazi Friendship Society.

"Now, once again, they are being subjected to killing, harassment and intimidation by armed militia groups. Their daily food rations from ICRC have been denied. It is unclear if this is done with or without the knowledge of Iraqi government. Recently, their children have been kicked out of schools and asked to pay $1,600.00 per student in order to return to schools. This is clearly beyond the means of these homeless refugees."

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society strongly urges the British government, which is in charge of security of Iraq's eastern provinces, to intervene to stop the persecution of Ahwazis by the local Iraqi authorities. There cannot be freedom and security in the Middle East when indigenous Ahwazis are being driven to poverty under the noses of British troops.

The full statement can be obtained here.