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Ahwazi Arabs in Solidarity with Iran's Kurds

Ahwaz Arabs have backed Kurdish protests against the Iranian regime after dozens of Kurds were killed in uprisings in Mahabad, Baneh and Saqqez.

The Iranian security forces used heavy weapons, including helicopter-mounted machine guns, to kill Kurdish demonstrators during nearly a month of unrest.

The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a centre-left opposition group outlawed in Iran, has urged "international organisations, human-rights supporters and the international community to make efforts to stop the bloodshed of the Iranian Kurdish people by the Islamic republic regime of Iran".

The unrest in Iranian Kurdistan began in Mahabad after a Kurdish opposition activist Shivan Qaderi and two other Kurdish men were murdered in cold blood by Iranian forces on 9 July. The security forces then tied his body to a Toyata jeep and dragged him in the streets.

Qaderi's murder was followed by the arrest of the following Kurdish NGO leaders and intellectuals:
Dr Roya Toloui, a Kurdish women's rights activist
Azad Zamani, a member of the Association for the Defence of Children's Rights (ADCR)
Jalal Qhavami, a journalist and a member of the editorial board of the journal "Payam-e Mardom"
Mahmoud Salehi, the spokesman for the Organisational Committee to Establish Trade Unions

The Iranian government has ordered the Bassij militias into Kurdistan. The Bassij is not an official organ of the Iranian state, but are paramilitary religious vigilantes allied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Meanwhile, the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been accused of carrying out an ambush on Iranian forces, which killed four soliders.

Iraqi Kurds have also demonstrated in support of the Iranian Kurds, with mass protests staged in Sulaimaniya close to the Iran-Iraq border. This was despite opposition from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is headed by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and controls the Kurdish area neighbouring Iran.

The uprising in Kurdistan mirrors a series of civil uprisings in Khuzestan, where the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs have been protesting against ethnic cleansing and land confiscation. In Balochistan, indigenous Balochis have also protested against the closure of their schools and destruction of Sunni mosques and a brutal campaign of ethnic oppression by Iran's Persian-dominated political elite.

Nasser Ban-Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The regime is crumbling along its territorial peripheries. Non-Persian ethnic groups, which comprise 50-60 per cent of the Iranian population, are uniting to overthrow a cruel and despotic regime. The Ahwazis stand in solidarity with our Kurdish compatriots, just as they stood with us during the April uprising. The uprising is gathering pace and the world will see civil disobedience grow under Ahmadinejad. The world must now decide whether it will stand with the majority of Iranians or whether it will continue to do business with a discredited, rotten and despised government."