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Ahwazis and Balochis demonstrate against Iran regime

Scores of Ahwazi Arab and Balochi activists gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London on Saturday to protest against the regime's racist policies and campaign of executions against ethnic minorities. The protest was organised by the Ahwaz Community Association of the UK and supported by a range of Ahwazi and Balochi organisations.

Photographs of 11 Ahwazi Arabs facing imminent execution were displayed along with the names of over 100 Ahwazi opposition activists recently killed by the regime.

Balochi and Ahwazi activists gave speeches at the demonstration. Rahim Bandoui, a spokesman for the Balochistan Peoples Party, said: "Today we have gathered here to protest and oppose the injustices of the barbaric regime of Iran against the prosecution and killing of our people who are rising and demanding their humanistic and national democratic rights. While everybody is suffering from not having their basic human rights observed, [...] unfortunately our Arabs, Baloch, Kurds, Azeri Turks and Turkmen are facing additional suffering, just for not having the same language, culture and even the same religion of the ruling elite. So far for nearly a century, all types of the ruling elites of Pan-Farsisms, crowned and turbaned, have consistently, constitutionally and institutionally tried to eliminate other nations and forcibly assimilate all cultural and linguistic diversity in Iran into ONE nation's culture, language and religion i.e. Persianisation."

Bandoui spoke of how new media technologies such as satellite television and radio were playing a vital role in the growing sense of identity among Iran's constituent nations and resistance against state killings of opposition activists.

He added: "In our view having a stable democracy in the region is not feasible without solving this social and political issue through a democratic process in Iran. Notably, the shadow and the heat wave of the barbaric regime's atrocities with regard to the human rights violation has stretched itself from its borders and has become not only the regional but a global threat to peace and stability."

The demonstration was supported by leading British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has condemned Iran's ethnic cleansing programme against Ahwazi Arabs.

Ahwazis and Balochis chanted slogans, including "Ahmadinejad is the terrorist". The Ahwazi Arab activists facing execution have been accused of terrorism, although the regime has failed to substantiate the charges against the men who were tried in secret courts with little or no access to their lawyers. In contrast, President Ahmadinejad's government has been accused by Western governments of sponsoring international terrorism and of arming and organising death squads in Iraq.

Click here to view a video of the demonstration