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International condemnation of massacre in Ahwaz

The US State Department has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the treatment of Ahwazi Arabs by the Iranian authorities.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said the US was "very concerned" by the reports of killings and mass arrests following demonstrations against coercive ethnic "restructuring" of Arabs in Khuzestan at the weekend.

He echoed Amnesty International's call for restraint and respect for human rights and free speech, including the right to freely assemble and demonstrate.

"In our view, this unrest and these arrests involve the denial of rights of minority groups in Iran," said Mr. Ereli. "The suppression of minority rights is obviously to be denounced, and it is not the first time that Iran has practiced this kind of human rights violation, and it's reflected in our human rights report on Iran."

A report published by the State Department in February drew attention to human rights abuses of Ahwazi Arabs, including the closure of two newspapers and the imprisonment and torture of opposition activists. It also criticised Iran for failing to clear landmines in Khuzestan, which were left after the Iran-Iraq War.