BREAKING NEWS

Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Ahwazi refugees remain in Syrian custody - AHRO

Ahwazi refugees remain in Syrian custody - AHRO

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has received unconfirmed reports that only one of four Ahwazi refugees were extradited to Iran, contrary to media reports.

Following consultation with United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva and in Damascus, and with the Syrian authorities, AHRO is led to believe that the Syrian authorities have backed down from their decision to extradite three of the four UNHCR mandated Ahwazi refugees - Rasoul Mazra, Jamal Obidawi and Taher Mazra - in their custody. They remain in detention in Damascus.

However, AHRO has received confirmation that Dutch citizen Abdullah Faleh al-Mansouri, a political refugee and leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation, has been extradited to Iran.

AHRO requested that its representatives and a UNHCR delegation be allowed to meet the detainees. As yet, the Syrian government has not granted access.

AHRO also contacted the Dutch authorities and requested Dutch foreign ministry pursue the whereabouts and conditions of Mr. Al-Mansouri through its Embassy in Tehran. While Mr. Al-Mansouri was admitted as a political refugee, as a Dutch citizen, his wellbeing is the responsibility of the Dutch government.

AHRO representatives in Damascus are maintaining contact with the UNHCR's office in Damascus.

Links
UNPO: "Iran Must End Repression against Minority Groups" - 15 August
"Syria has violated international law" - Amnesty International - 11 August
Ahwazi Arabs unite against Syrian "treachery" - 11 August
Netherlands abandons Dutch Ahwazi activist - 11 August
Syria deports Ahwazis to Iran, including Dutch national - 9 August
Statement by Amnesty Maastricht on the detention of Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (in Dutch)
U.N. tells Syria not to extradite Ahwazi refugees - 7 June 2006, Ya Libnan
Amnesty International report on fear of forcible return and torture of Ahwazi refugees - 2 June 2006, Amnesty International
Syria releases three Ahwazis, but four remain in custody - 19 May 2006, BAFS
Syrian human rights activists arrested amid Ahwazi deportation scandal - 17 May 2006, BAFS
Syria's deportation scandal - 16 May 2006, BAFS
Syria arresting Ahwazi Arabs to please Iran - 16 May 2006, Ya Libnan
UNPO: "Iran Must End Repression against Minority Groups"

UNPO: "Iran Must End Repression against Minority Groups"

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) has released the following statement amid growing concerns over the fate of Ahwazis held in Iranian custody, including five UNHCR mandated refugees illegally deported to Iran by the Syrian regime.

UNPO is deeply disturbed upon Syria's deportation of all Ahwazis, including UNHCR registered refugees and the Dutch national Mr. Al-Mansouri, in its custody to Iran. UNPO General Secretary Mr. Busdachin calls for urgent action and a comprehensive approach on human rights and effective democratisation.

UNPO is greatly concerned at the news that the Syrian government has deported all Ahwazis, including UNHCR registered refugees, as well as the Dutch national Mr. Al-Mansouri, in its custody to Iran. Furthermore, Mr. Said Awdeh Saki, a UNHCR registered refugee who was due to be relocated to Norway, was deported previously to Iran and his location is currently unknown.

The Ahwazi have been a UNPO Member since 2003 and UNPO continues to monitor related developments in Iran, in particular the worsening situation Ahwazis face in terms of arrest, torture and execution. UNPO General Secretary, Mr. Marino Busdachin states: "Recent events continue to demonstrate the total lack of respect for international human rights standards and the vulnerability of specifically national minority groups and indigenous peoples in Iran, such as the Ahwazi, Balochis, Kurds and other. These groups continue to suffer systematic discrimination, and the international human rights community has so far failed to address this issue sufficiently."

Mr. Busdachin adds that a comprehensive approach to human rights and effective democratisation in the region is required and calls upon international actors and institutions to support initiatives involving minority groups within Iran promoting non-violent methodologies for democracy and human rights. "These groups can constitute the critical elements for a viable, legitimate and effective strategy for a just and democratic Iran, respectful of the international human rights treaties it has pledged to adhere to," the UNPO General Secretary asserts.
"Syria has violated international law" - Amnesty International

"Syria has violated international law" - Amnesty International

Amnesty International has issued a statement claiming that Syria violated international law by deporting five Ahwazis, most of them refugees, to Iran in May. (click here to download)

In an urgent action published today, Amnesty says that Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO) leader Faleh Abdullah al-Mansouri, Abdulrasool Mezrea, Jamal Obeidawi and Taher Ali Mezrea, who were deported under a bilateral agreement between Syria and Iran, are now "at risk of torture, ill-treatment, and possibly execution."

The four were arrested by Political Security officers in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on 11 May, along with three other men - Musa Suwari, Ahmad Abd al-Jaber Abiat, and Issa Yassin al-Musawi. Amnesty's appeal states that "they were reportedly held incommunicado at an unknown location. According to reports, Musa Suwari, Ahmad Abd al-Jaber Abiat and Issa Yassin al-Musawi were released between 11 May and 19 May.

"Most of the men are said to have been recognised as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Faleh ‘bdullah al-Mansuri has since acquired Dutch nationality ... Returning refugees or any other individual to a country where they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment or other serious human rights abuses is a violation of Syria's obligations under international law, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which it is a state party."

Amnesty adds that there is no further information on Said Awda al-Saki, an Ahwazi refugee registered with the UNHCR, who was arrested at the same time as the men named above, and was reportedly forcibly returned to Iran on 14 May. He is now held incommunicado at an undisclosed location, according to the human rights organisation.

Links
Ahwazi Arabs unite against Syrian "treachery" - 11 August
Netherlands abandons Dutch Ahwazi activist - 11 August
Syria deports Ahwazis to Iran, including Dutch national - 9 August
Statement by Amnesty Maastricht on the detention of Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (in Dutch)
U.N. tells Syria not to extradite Ahwazi refugees - 7 June 2006, Ya Libnan
Amnesty International report on fear of forcible return and torture of Ahwazi refugees - 2 June 2006, Amnesty International
Syria releases three Ahwazis, but four remain in custody - 19 May 2006, BAFS
Syrian human rights activists arrested amid Ahwazi deportation scandal - 17 May 2006, BAFS
Syria's deportation scandal - 16 May 2006, BAFS
Syria arresting Ahwazi Arabs to please Iran - 16 May 2006, Ya Libnan
Ahwazi Arabs unite against Syrian "treachery"

Ahwazi Arabs unite against Syrian "treachery"

The Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (DSPA) has condemned the Syrian government's deportation of Ahwazi Arab refugees and the leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO), 60 year old Dutch citizen Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri, to Iran as an act of "treachery". (click here for more information on the deportations)

The DSPA is a liberal democratic group which believes that Arab rights can be won through the devolution of power within a federal Iran, whereas the ALO advocates complete independence for Al-Ahwaz. The oil-rich Ahwazi Arab homeland enjoyed considerable autonomy and affluence until it was forcibly placed under Tehran's control by the forces of Reza Pahlavi in 1925. Despite ideological differences between the DSPA and the ALO, there are growing signs of solidarity within the Ahwazi opposition as the Iranian regime steps up its violent oppression in the region. The deportation of the five Ahwazis from Syria to Iran, where they will be executed for their political beliefs, has strengthened the bonds of solidarity between different Ahwazi groups.

In its statement, the DSPA was vociferous in its criticism of the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. It pointed out that Syria had been thought of as a safehaven for Ahwazi political refugees escaping the "bloodthirsty racism" of the Iranian regime. However, the DSPA, which represents the Ahwazis in the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), accused the Syrian government of betraying its commitment to fraternity with the Arab world and acting unethically.

The party has called on human rights activists to stage sit-ins in front of Syrian embassies across Europe and North America "to express their dissatisfaction over this irresponsible action, especially in light of the dangerous escalation of repression and gross violations of human rights in Al-Ahwaz."

It adds: "The death sentences annouced against 10 innocent Ahwazis ten days ago is the best evidence of the barbarism of the Iranian regime and the extent of its hatred against its own Arab population, while trying to appear as the protector of Arabs and Muslims abroad."

The DSPA concluded by stating that the Ahwazis would continue to fight for their right to self-determination, despite the treachery of the Syrian government.

Click here to download the DSPA's statement in Arabic
Netherlands abandons Dutch Ahwazi activist

Netherlands abandons Dutch Ahwazi activist

The Netherlands Foreign Ministry appears to have abandoned its lobbying efforts with the Iranian government to seek the release of 60 year old Dutch national Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri, the leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO) who was deported to Iran by the Syrian government in May while visiting Damascus.

The Dutch government only this week announced that they had received notification from the Syrian foreign ministry that the ALO leader, who has lived in the Dutch city of Maastricht since 1989, had been deported under the terms of a bilateral Syria-Iran co-operation treaty on 16 May. He was deported along with four other Ahwazis, all of whom are registered as refugees with the UNHCR. (click here for more information)

In an interview with the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency, a Dutch government spokesman indicated that since he was travelling to Syria with Iranian travel documents and under another identity, "Iran could tell us it is none of our business", apparently washing its hands of responsibility. The apparent fatalism of the Dutch foreign ministry towards the fate of an Arab citizen with Dutch nationality is in contrast to the Dutch government's high-profile efforts to seek the release of Iranian human rights advocate Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoini, who was arrested at a women's rights demonstration in June. (click here for more information)

The Dutch foreign ministry has requested that embassy officials in Tehran be allowed access to Al-Mansouri, but the Netherlands does not appear to be making any formal representations to seek his release.

Al-Mansouri is a well-known Groen Links (Green Left) party activist and human rights campaigner in Maastricht and the Belgian and Dutch branches of Amnesty International have been campaigning for his release, unaware that Syria had already transferred him to Iran. (click here for more information)

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The Dutch government appears to be ambivalent towards Al-Mansouri and the four political refugees kidnapped by the Syrian government and sent to Iran, where they will be tortured and executed. One wonders whether this would have been the case if he was not an Arab immigrant and not involved with a Dutch opposition party. We are certain that if Al-Mansouri was white-skinned, Dutch-born and a member of the ruling Christen Democratisch Appel, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot would be more active and vocal in seeking his release.

"Al-Mansouri's organisation is not proscribed in the EU, he is not a terrorist, he is not an Islamist, he is a law-abiding Dutch citizen and he is entitled to his lawful views.

"The Dutch government's apathy indicates that that his ethnicity and his opposition to the Iranian government make him unworthy of its support. But he is a Dutch citizen and the Dutch government and the European Commission have a moral and legal obligation to do whatever they can to ensure that Al-Mansouri is released from Iranian custody unharmed.

"The failure of the Dutch government to take action in Al-Mansouri's case is an abrogation of its responsibilities and a betrayal of the liberal values of the Dutch people."
Ahwazis Facing Execution on Hunger Strike

Ahwazis Facing Execution on Hunger Strike

Ahwazis recently sentenced to death for "waging war on God" have staged a hunger strike in defiance of the regime's authority.

Six Ahwazis have had their death sentences upheld by the Supreme Court and many others are waiting for their appeals to be heard, although their convictions are based on false charges. One of the detained, Nazem Berihi, was sentenced to death for carrying out bomb attacks in Ahwaz City in 2005, despite being in prison since 2000. The regime has accused those sentenced to death of working as British agents, but has failed to provide any evidence of British involvement in Ahwaz. The executions are widely believed to be a way of terrorising even the most moderate Ahwazi opponent of government policy in an effort to put down the Ahwazi intifada (uprising) that began in April 2005.

Five Ahwazis recently deported to Iran by Syria, including four UNHCR registered refugees resident in Damascus and a Dutch national who was visiting the country, are also believed to be undergoing torture in an effort to force them to confess to false charges (click here for more details).

Related stories::
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 JulyIran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January
Amnesty Launches Indigenous Rights Petition

Amnesty Launches Indigenous Rights Petition

Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on states around the world to support the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN General Assembly in 2006.

August 9 marks International Day of the World's Indigenous People, yet Amnesty estimates that 370 million Indigenous women, men and children worldwide face racism, discriminatory laws and eviction from lands central to their cultures and livelihoods. These include 5.5 million Ahwazi Arabs, who have faced land confiscation and cultural and political repression since Tehran imposed central government control over their homeland in 1925.

The UN is edging towards approving global human rights standards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples. The draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council at its historic first meeting in June. The Declaration must now be adopted by the UN General Assembly in order to become part of the body of international human rights standards.

The draft Declaration is intended to inspire and inform measures to address the widespread discrimination and deeply entrenched racism faced by Indigenous peoples in every region of the world.

The Declaration affirms the right of Indigenous peoples to have meaningful control over their own lives, to maintain their distinct cultural identities for future generations, and to have secure access to the lands and natural resources essential to their ways of life.

Canada, United States, Russia, New Zealand and Australia have opposed the adoption of the Declaration. It's feared that the small group of states that have opposed the Declaration will put pressure on other governments to join them in voting against the Declaration when it comes before the General Assembly later this year.

In order to push through the declaration, Amnesty International has launched a petition to urge governments to approve human rights for Indigenous peoples. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) is one of the organisations backing the petition.

Click here to sign Amnesty International's petition supporting the UN General Assembly's approval of the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Syria deports Ahwazis to Iran, including Dutch national

Syria deports Ahwazis to Iran, including Dutch national

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has learnt that the Syrian government has deported all Ahwazis, including UNHCR registered refugees and a Dutch national, in its custody to Iran where they will face arrest, torture and execution.

Eight Ahwazis were detained by the Syrian authorities in May, including Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri, a 60 year old Dutch national and leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation.

Three were later released, but Said Awdeh Saki (pictured), a UNHCR registered refugee who was due to be relocated to Norway, was deported to Iran by the Syrian authorities. Saki is now being held at an unknown location in Iran.

Syria has defied calls by the Dutch government, the UNHCR, Amnesty International and Arab human rights groups, including the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, to release the remaining detainees and instead sent them to Iran (click here for AHRO's appeal).

At the weekend, members of Amnesty International protested outside the Syrian embassy in Brussels calling for Al-Mansouri's release (click here for more information). The ALO leader is well-known in Maastricht, where he lived before he was kidnapped by the Syrian regime, and is friends with the city's mayor (picture shows Mayor of Maastricht with Al-Mansouri).

The ALO has confirmed that Al-Mansouri has been deported after receiving a letter from the Dutch government informing them of Syria's deportation decision. The UNHCR has also received notification of the deportations.

Others sent to Iran include Gamal Obaidy (pictured), a 34 year old student at Damascus University and Chair of Ahwazi Student Union in Syria, and Ahwazi political activists Taher Ali Mazrae and Abdulrasoul Ali Mazrae, who are both brothers.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The regime of President Bashar Al-Assad has chosen to align himself with the Islamic Republic of Iran against the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. The move belies his claims of pan-Arab solidarity. The Syrian regime is nothing but a puppet of Tehran and has no respect for humanitarian conventions or international law. President Assad's decision to deport Ahwazis puts the entire Ahwazi community in Damascus, which is thousands strong, under threat.

"Syria's decision comes amid threats against Ahwazi political refugees in the UAE and Kuwait and the assassination of an Ahwazi opposition leader in Iraq's Basra province earlier this year. The European Union must protest strongly at Syria's illegal actions."

Links
Statement by Amnesty Maastricht on the detention of Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (in Dutch)
U.N. tells Syria not to extradite Ahwazi refugees - 7 June 2006, Ya Libnan
Amnesty International report on fear of forcible return and torture of Ahwazi refugees - 2 June 2006, Amnesty International
Syria releases three Ahwazis, but four remain in custody - 19 May 2006, BAFS
Syrian human rights activists arrested amid Ahwazi deportation scandal - 17 May 2006, BAFS
Syria's deportation scandal - 16 May 2006, BAFS
Syria arresting Ahwazi Arabs to please Iran - 16 May 2006, Ya Libnan
Amnesty Belgium demonstrates outside Syrian embassy over Ahwazi refugees

Amnesty Belgium demonstrates outside Syrian embassy over Ahwazi refugees

Amnesty International Belgium held a demonstration outside the Syrian embassy in Brussels on Friday to protest at the detention of Ahwazi refugees in Damascus. Dutch national Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (60), leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO) which supports independence for Arab regions of Iran, has also been detained illegally by the Syrian authorities.



One detained Ahwazi, Saeed Awdeh al-Saki, who was due to be moved to Norway by the UNHCR, has been removed to Iran by the Syrian authorities where he faces torture and possible execution.

Over the past year, international NGOs and UN agencies have documented the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran. Many Arabs believe that the Syrian government's decision to detain Ahwazis indicates that President Bashar Al-Assad is willing to sacrifice solidarity with persecuted Arabs for the sake of his new-found allegiance to Tehran.

According to the Gulf Times, the Dutch government has demanded an explanation from Syria over Al-Mansouri's detention. Al-Mansouri has been a resident of Maastricht in the Netherlands since he fled to the country in 1989.



Photos submitted to BAFS by the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation.

Links
Statement by Amnesty Maastricht on the detention of Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri (in Dutch)
U.N. tells Syria not to extradite Ahwazi refugees - 7 June 2006, Ya Libnan
Amnesty International report on fear of forcible return and torture of Ahwazi refugees - 2 June 2006, Amnesty International
Syria releases three Ahwazis, but four remain in custody - 19 May 2006, BAFS
Syrian human rights activists arrested amid Ahwazi deportation scandal - 17 May 2006, BAFS
Syria's deportation scandal - 16 May 2006, BAFS
Syria arresting Ahwazi Arabs to please Iran - 16 May 2006, Ya Libnan
"Tehran is a racist state, as well as a homophobic one" - Human and gay rights activist

"Tehran is a racist state, as well as a homophobic one" - Human and gay rights activist

One of Britain's leading human rights and gay rights activists, Peter Tatchell, has condemned the Iranian regime's planned execution of 10 Ahwazi Arabs as racist.

He has backed the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation's call on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to intervene to stop the executions and the regime's ethnic cleansing agenda in Khuzestan, the homeland of the Ahwazi Arabs.

"The Iranian regime is planning the imminent execution of 10 Arab human rights activists from Khuzestan province in the south-west of Iran. They were sentenced to death after secret trials in June. The Iranian supreme court upheld their death sentences on 25 July," warned Mr Tatchell.

"Iran's Arab minority, who call themselves Ahwazis, are subjected to systematic prejudice and persecution by the Persian chauvinist Tehran regime.

"It is believed that both the gay teenagers executed in the city of Mashhad on 19 July 2005 were Ahwazis. The ethnic background of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni may have been a contributing factor that led to their execution.

"It is important that the gay community shows solidarity with all the victims of the murderous Iranian regime - and that other victims show solidarity with gay Iranians. United together, the Iranian people can triumph over the clerical dictatorship.

"A further 22 Arab activists are expected to be handed death sentences at the end of their trials, which are being held in secret with no independent observers allowed to attend the court. They are victims of trumped up charges, for which there is no evidence.

"The Tehran regime is now holding Ahwazi children as young as 2 and 4 years old as hostages in prison, in a bid to force their political and human rights activist parents (who are on the run and in hiding) to surrender to the police. If the parents hand in themselves to the authorities, their children will be released, but they will face execution.

"In the last year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed and 150 have disappeared (presumed killed and buried in unmarked graves), according to the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization.

"The Ahwazis are one of Iran's several persecuted national minorities who are subjected to racist victimisation by the Tehran regime. Other maltreated minorities include the Balochis, Turkmen and Azeris.

"Iran is a racist state, with a covert agenda for the ethnic cleansing of the Ahwazi Arab people.

"Tehran's land seizures, forced population relocations, massacres, arrests, jailings, tortures and executions of Ahwazi Arabs are crimes against humanity under international law.

"Despite living in the region of Iran richest in oil, the Ahwazi Arab people are victims of a cruel, deliberate impoverishment by the Iranian regime, with half the population living in gross poverty and 80 percent of children suffering from malnutrition.

"We support the efforts of the Iranian people to end the racist, homophobic and misogynist tyranny in Tehran and to establish a democratic, secular state that ensures human rights for all the ethnic, sexual, religious and cultural minorities of Iran.

"Foreign military intervention in Iran would be morally wrong and counter-productive. Reform must come from within, by and for the Iranian people themselves," said Mr Tatchell.

Related stories::
Death sentence for Ahwazis confirmed by Supreme Court - 31 July
Son of Ahwazi sentenced to death appeals to Kofi Annan - 27 July
Urgent Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Chief over Iran Executions - 11 JulyIran: Retry Ethnic Arabs Condemned to Death - 24 June
UNPO Urgent Appeal Concerning Ahwazi Executions
Ahwazis face arrest, deportation and execution - 1 June
Amnesty International: Eleven Ahwazis Face Execution - 17 May
Iran prepares for new round of executions in Ahwaz - 13 May
Executed: Young Men Hung by Iranian Tyrants - 2 March
Iran prepares to execute tribal family - 19 February
Iran sentences seven over Ahwaz bombings - 15 February
Iran increases repression in Ahwaz - 8 February
Ahwaz Bombings Come After Weeks of Unrest - 24 January