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Intelligence Committee Chairman Condemns Iran's Execution of Ahwazis

The Chair of the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, Paul Murphy, has signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) condemning Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. Mr Murphy, a former government minister, heads the powerful parliamentary committee which oversees the administration and policies of the MI6, MI5 and GCHQ.

The EDM, which is a non-binding declaration by the legislature, was drafted by Labour MP Chris Bryant and has so far attracted the support of 47 MPs from across the political spectrum. Leading members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs have also backed the EDM, including Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell.

The EDM states that "this House notes the long-running persecution of the Ahwazi Arabs" by the Iranian regime and condemns the planned execution of 10 Ahwazi Arabs. It "supports Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in their complaints that Iranian justice has meant that many Ahwazi Arab defendants have had no opportunity to meet their lawyers before their case has begun, have had one-day trials in secret with no witnesses and have had false confessions extracted through torture; and calls on the Iranian Government to respect the human rights of all its peoples and to commute the death penalty in these cases."

Commenting on the victimisation of Iran's Arab minority, Mr Bryant said: "Iran's human rights record is pretty grisly on a wide range of issues, but the Ahwazi Arabs have suffered more than most from the authorities in Tehran.

"Of course Britain should try to have a good relationship with Iran, but it must be on the basis of an honest criticism of their human rights abuses.

"The widespread use of torture to extract so-called confessions, the refusal to allow defendants to have proper consultations with their lawyers before a trial begins, and the fact that many trials last less than a day and have no witnesses, means that many of these convictions would be considered completely unsound in any civilised country.

"I very much hope that the UK and the European Union will call on Iran to commute the death sentences," said Mr Bryant.

John McDonnell told the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS): "We all have a responsibility to stand up to protect the human rights and security of all those who are at risk. It is for this reason that I join many elected representatives drawn from across the world in calling for the rights of Ahwazi Arabs to be respected and for a halt to the threatened executions."

The EDM follows a successful move by British Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to secure unanimous cross-party condemnation in the European Parliament of the planned execution of the 11 Ahwazi activists on 16 November. This was followed on 21 November by a Canadian sponsored UN General Assembly resolution that condemned Iran's "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities" and its "persistent failure in Iran to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice - including the absence of due process of law, the refusal to provide fair and public hearings, and the denial of the right to counsel by detainees."

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