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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."

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