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Iran imposes internet blackout on Ahwazi sites

The Iranian regime has imposed a complete block on all Ahwazi websites ahead of its planned execution of Arab activists.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "The regime is panicking in the face of international opposition to the unjust executions. The European Parliament has unanimously condemned the executions and there is a renewed focus on Iran's ethnic cleansing policies. In the UK, there have been top level meetings on the executions, with Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague stepping up the pressure for a European response while politicians from the Labour and Green parties have launched an intensive lobbying effort with the European Commission and the United Nations.

"A block on websites is designed to control the flow of information. The regime does not want Iranians to hear that it is facing heavy criticism from international bodies over its treatment of Ahwazi Arabs. It could be trying to suppress information to limit the level of unrest that will follow the executions. Alternatively, it could be preparing for a climb-down on the executions and does not want Iranians to perceive this as a retreat. We don't mind a block on our website if this means that the regime changes its policies and halts the mass executions."

The execution of 11 men was expected on Tuesday after "confessions" - following months of torture and intimidation of the families of the accused - were broadcast on Khuzestan TV. However, lobbying efforts appear to have led to an unofficial delay, although the Mehr News Agency has indicated that the executions could go ahead tomorrow (Monday).