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Iran accuses BAFS of terrorism

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini has accused London police of supporting a rally of Ahwazi Arab "terrorists" in response to a recent demonstration by Ahwazis outside the House of Commons earlier this year, which was called by members of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) - click here for more information.

In one of the Islamic Republic's ritual attacks on Britain, Hosseini told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that the British government was meddling in Iran's affairs for allowing Ahwazi Arabs to demonstrate in London (click here for IRNA's report). Only two demonstrations have been staged in London this year, both of which were organised by BAFS activists. He also claimed that the British authorities had declared a "premature amnesty" for terrorists involved in the 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege, maintaining that the government was guilty of hypocrisy.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "Hosseini's claims are so absurd they are comical. The demonstration held at the House of Commons was strictly peaceful and lawful. Under current anti-terrorism legislation, all demonstrations in Parliament Square require the approval of the Metropolitan Police. Approval is not the same as political support. Ahwazi activists sought and secured the approval of the police to protest, which is a democratic right they enjoy in the UK but are denied in their own country.

"BAFS is committed to non-violent peaceful means of winning rights for the persecuted Ahwazi Arabs. We oppose violence in all its forms. We are not a terrorist organisation nor do we co-operate with any group involved in violence of any kind. Unlike the Iranian regime, we respect international law and the law of the UK and BAFS is not a proscribed organisation - even in Iran!

"Hosseini should also get his facts correct on the embassy siege. The British army killed all but one of the hostage takers that beseiged the embassy. The surviving hostage taker, Fowzi Badawi Nejad, remains in prison, despite being eligible for parole last year. In May, he was moved from an open prison to a high security prison along with 140 other foreign prisoners due to a separate political controversy over foreign prisoners in British prisons.

"Hosseini is a hypocrite and a liar. His claims have no foundation. He is trying to pressure the British government to silence the legitimate demands of the Ahwazi Arab people and to force it to stop accepting political refugees. If the British government has any sense, it will ignore the Iranian regime's demands and support peaceful struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran."