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Ahwazi activists condemn arrests in Moscow

Ahwazi Arab activists have condemned the treatment of gay rights activist Peter Tatchell (pictured) and other demonstrators in Moscow at the weekend. Peter has worked tirelessly for minority groups such as the Ahwazi Arabs, forging solidarity with people facing discrimination on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexuality.

Dr Karim Abdian, Director of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO), said: "It's a sad day for peace and democracy in general and democracy in Russia in particular when well-known human rights advocates and defenders such as Peter Tatchell and Marco Cappato are arrested and beaten in broad daylight in full view of Russian police in Moscow. Peter Tatchell, a British icon in human rights, and Mr Cappato, an MP in European Parliament and a leader of the Italian Radical Party, are friends and supporters of the Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority in Iran. We condemn the arrests and beating of Peter Tatchell and his delegates and request their release immediately. We also hold the Russian government responsible for their well-being."

British Ahwazi Friendship Society activists have also joined in the condemnation of the beatings and arrests. Ali Bani Torfi said: "We call for the release of Peter Tatchell and his comrades immediately. We call for solidarity with Peter and condemn his arrest. He was punched in the head in full view of police. The act of Russian police was appeared to support the ultra-nationalists and Orthodox Church hardliners. The Iranian regime violates the freedom of speech of Ahwazi Arabs by preventing them from holding demonstrations. The Russian government is doing the same to activists in Moscow. Peter is a good friend of the oppressed and downtrodden peoples like the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran. He fought to save the lives of many Ahwazi Arab activists who were arrested by the Iranian regime. All these nations must now stand with Peter and call the UK and EU governments to intervene and pressure Russia to release them without delay."

Yasser Assadi added: "We Ahwazis give our support to the human rights activist Peter Tatchell who is not only acting for gay rights but also other human rights issues such as minority rights. He has helped the oppressed Ahwazi people raise their voice at an international level. We believe that he should be freed and should not be treated inhumanely."