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European condemnation of Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs

The European Commission and the British government have condemned Iran's persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and the imminent execution of opposition activists in recent letters to British Green MEP Dr Caroline Lucas.

Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who has responsibility for external affairs, said that the European Union is examining intervening in the cases of men recently condemned to death for their alleged role in bomb attacks in Ahwaz. The planned executions were last week condemned by UN experts, which described their trials as making "a mockery of due process requirements." Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Iranian human rights activists such as Emad Baghi have also criticised the trial process of the men accused of "waging war on god."

Ferrero-Waldner added that the EU and its diplomatic missions in Tehran were "monitoring as closely as possible the situation in the Khuzestan province" and acknowledged that Ahwazi Arabs "do indeed suffer from discrimination."

Kim Howells, the British foreign minister with responsibility for the Middle East, said that the British government was "deeply concerned about the situation of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran, who continue to face discrimination and intimidation." He stated that the British government was "closely following" the cases of Ahwazi political prisoners sentenced to death. He added that "we have concerns about the conduct of their trial including whether it was held secretly behind closed doors, whether a jury was present, and whether defendants had adequate access to lawyers before the trial."