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Ahwazi unity in EU appeal

Representatives of Ahwazi Arab political parties and community groups held a demonstration outside the European Commission offices in London today to press for EU action over human rights abuses in the Iranian province of Khuzestan.

Non-governmental organisations - the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, Ahwaz Community Association of the UK, Al-Wfa Society of Al-Ahwaz and the British Ahwazi Friendship Society - and the three main Ahwazi Arab political parties - Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz, Ahwaz Liberation Organisation and the Al-Ahwaz Arab People's Democratic Popular Front - handed in a joint declaration to the Commission's offices.

The statement outlined the historical injustices against the Ahwazi people and detailed the recent events in Khuzestan, including killings by security forces and arbitrary arrests. It urged the Commission to call for:

1. An end to the cycle of violence initiated by the regime against the Ahwazi people

2. Full observance of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

3. The creation of an independent, multi-national commission to investigate human rights abuses against Ahwaz people

4. An end to all land confiscation and other programmes that undermine Ahwazis' economic welfare

5. Respect for the Ahwazi people's freedom of speech and association

6. The release of all Ahwazi prisoners of conscience

7. International mediation to reverse the injustices done to the Ahwazi people during 80 years of Iranian rule

8. The right to self-determination for the Ahwazi people, in accordance with the purposes and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations

Nasser Ban-Assad, BAFS spokesman, said: "This is a display of unity by organisations that have very different aims and ideologies. It shows that in the face of adversity, Ahwazis are working together to bring a halt to the injustices and persecution they suffer in Iran."