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Ahwazis back African Union action on Darfur

Ahwazi Arab groups have joined British politicians, academics and human rights campaigners in calling for greater international action to prevent genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

Director of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation Karim Abdian, senior Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz official Mansour Silawi Ahwazi and Nasser Bani Assad of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) are among the 55 signatories of a petition by the Henry Jackson Society for greater support for African Union peace enforcement troops in Sudan. Other signatories include Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble, academics such as Prof Vernon Bogdanor and Prof Roger Scruton and think tank members such as John Lehman and Bruce Jackson.

The petition, which was sent to the EU, US, British, German, French, Indian and South African governments, called the Sudanese government's treatment of black Darfurians a "calculated strategy of intimidation and ethnic cleansing ... designed to kill, remove or enslave black people in Darfur", killing 200,000 and forced two million people from their homes. It warned that "should the situation deteriorate further, it will spill over and damage an already unstable region, creating a breeding ground for extremism and terror" and accused China of supporting repressive African regimes in return for oil concessions.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "Ahwazi Arabs stand in solidarity with all oppressed minorities, even when the oppressor is an Arab-led government like Sudan. We believe that the international community must act forcefully to prevent ethnic cleansing wherever it occurs.

"The Ahwazis have a common cause with the Darfurians. Both are being oppressed in the name of religion and both are being cleansed from their homelands for the sake of Chinese exploitation of oil resources. The Chinese have large oil concessions in Southern Darfur and Sinopec has a 51 per cent stake in the massive Yadavaran oilfield which lies in the Ahwazi Arab homeland. Both Ahwazis and Darfurians are impoverished and forced from their lands because greedy foreign oil companies want to drain their homelands' resources."

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