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BAFS Pledges to Challenge Iran's Extradition Threat

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has pledged to challenge any attempt to extradite Ahwazi Arab exiles from Europe to Iran following the Iranian regime's claims that it will seek the arrest of any Ahwazi exile it accuses of responsibility for bomb attacks in Ahwaz City.

On Sunday, the Iranian Ministry of Information claimed that the 30 people it arrested in connection with the June and October bombings in Ahwaz had confessed to the bombings and had "disclosed many secrets about their connection with their ringleaders who are based in other countries."

The Iranian regime has repeatedly claimed that dissident groups based in Britain and Canada, along with the US, Canadian, British and Saudi governments, helped train and direct the bombers. The security forces have reportedly forwarded the names of those in foreign countries - possibly including the names of Ahwazi exiles - to the Foreign Ministry to begin extradition from these countries, using UN Resoluton resolution 1373 (2001).

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have repeatedly warned that Ahwazis recently arrested by the regime are at risk of torture. We believe that any 'evidence' or confession has been extracted through torture and will not stand up in a court of law operating on international standards.

"In addition, we believe that there is no Ahwazi group capable of carrying out such attacks, that no Ahwazi group would kill Arab civilians and that British and Iraqi forces would have nothing to gain from intability in Khuzestan, the Ahwazi Arab homeland. The only people that can gain anything from terrorist attacks in Ahwaz are those who want to militarise Iran and who are seeking excuses for increasing violent repression. Even reformists within the Iranian political system have accused hard-liners of planting bombs to portray Iran as a country that requires a hard-line leader.

"This threat to call for the extradition of Ahwazi exiles is an attempt to intimidate and close down solidarity groups like BAFS as well as Ahwazi opposition parties. The regime also wants to portray foreign governments as harbouring terrorist groups to distract world attention from Iran's proven support for international terrorism. The extradition threat is an act of desperation by a regime that fears that it may collapse in the face of popular revolt and international pressure.

"The European Parliament, the UNCHR, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all highlighted and condemned the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. I am convinced that no British, European or international institution will permit the extradition of law-abiding dissidents who have advocated non-violent resistance against one of the world's most repressive states and the largest sponsor of terrorism.

"Any attempt to extradite any Ahwazi Arab on the basis of evidence gained under torture will be resisted in the courts and we will triumph over Tehran's attempts to silence the opposition.

"Moreover, we believe that if such extraditions were legally possible, then President Ahmadinejad should be extradited to Austria to face charges relating to his role in the murder of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou in Vienna in 1989, as well as a string of assassinations across the Middle East."