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Britain's Costain Group Condemned Over Iran Investment

Ahwazi Arabs have condemned the UK-based Costain Group, which was recently awarded a contract by the Iranian regime to build a US$1.6 billion gas processing facility in Khuzestan. [Costain press release]

Ahwazi Arabs have been subjected to a policy of "ethnic restructuring" and Persianisation, in which their resource-rich agricultural land has been ritually confiscated to benefit the oil, gas and sugar industries. Land confiscation has been accompanied by the forced migration, human rights abuse and massacres of Ahwazis. Profits from the oil and gas industries are shared between Iran's elite and foreign investors, such as China's Sinopec Corporation and Norway's Statoil. The Costain Group is just another foreign corporation taking financial advantage of Iran's ethnic cleansing in Khuzestan.

While stolen Arab lands enrich foreigners, the indigenous Ahwazi inhabitants of Khuzestan are left in a state of poverty and are denied access to basic services. In April 2005, thousands of Ahwazis took to the streets in protest over poverty, forced migration and the programme of land expropriation. More than 150 unarmed demonstrators were killed in cold blood. The massacre was condemned by leading human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

This has not deterred the UK's Costain Oil, Gas & Process (COGAP), part of the Costain Group, from bidding for the lucrative contract to become lead contractor for the Bidboland 2 gas treatment facility, which is being built on Ahwazi territory. According to Forbes, COGAP will be paid US$300 million for the project, which is expected to take four years to complete. Other companies in the COGAP-led consortium are Dragados, a unit of Spanish construction group Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA, and two Iranian companies, Jahanpars and Sazeh. When construction is completed, the plant will be able to process up to to two billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Stuart Doughty, Chief Executive of the Costain Group, said: "This contract is a significant boost to our strategy of developing an international gas processing business."

Spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), Nasser Ban-Assad, said: "Costain has the blood of Ahwazis on its hands. It is participating in Iran's exploitation of resources that have been violently stolen from the Ahwazi people. These industrial projects rarely employ local Ahwazis and rely on labour drawn from other parts of the country. The profits made by the oil, gas and petrochemicals industries in Khuzestan are not redistributed to the Ahwazis. Not one Ahwazi will receive a penny from Costain's multi-million pound contract.

"Costain, like so many other foreign investors in Khuzestan, are perpetuating what Amnesty has labelled as a 'cycle of violence' against the Ahwazi people. Ahwazis will pay a blood price for Costain's greed."

BAFS is calling on human rights groups and individuals in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world to protest against Costain's involvement in Khuzestan.

Please write protest letters to:
Stuart Doughty
Chief Executive, Costain Group
Costain House
Nicholsons Walk
United Kingdom

Charles Sweeney
Managing Director, Costain Oil, Gas & Process Ltd
Costain House
Styal Road
M22 5WN
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 161 910 3004

Kevin Jordan
Director, Middle East Operations
Costain Abu Dhabi
PO Box 3069
Mussafah Industrial Area
Abu Dhabi
Tel: +971 2 555 3920

Also, write to your local political representative. If you are in the UK, fax your local Member of Parliament free by entering your post code here: