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Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Iran's "Mad Moment" Fails to Impress UN Indigenous Forum



Iran's representatives at the seventh session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) launched a bizarre attack on a delegation of Ahwazi Arab human rights activists, accusing them of responsibility for terrorism in the Middle East.

Iranian delegates banged on the table throughout a speech by a representative of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO), in a scene reminiscent of Kruschev's shoe banging incident in the UN General Assembly. The Ahwazi delegate detailed Iran's catalogue of human rights abuses against indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. Delegates representing Iran's Balochi and Kurdish populations also adressed the session.

A member of the Ahwazi Arab delegation told the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) that as soon as their presentation started "all hell broke loose." The delegation criticised Iran for failing to appoint a member of Iran's national minorities, who comprise over half Iran's population, to represent the country at the PFII. This was proof that the Iranian government "does not aknowlege or recognize the indigenous peoples" of Iran.

The Ahwazi Arab delegate drew attention to the historic marginalisation and discrimination against Ahwazi Arabs by successive governments. He said: "While Ahwazi ancestral lands produces 90% of Iran's vast oil revenue, none of this is allocated to the Ahwazis or to their region. Madam Chair: a proposed legislative bill allocating 1.5% of the oil revenue to the Khuzestan area or the indigenous Ahwazis has been defeated for the fourth year this year.

"Iran indigenous Ahwazis are kept backward, poor and illiterate. The illiteracy rate is four times and unemployment is six times the national average ... Only one out of four Ahwazis graduates from high school. According to government's own data, 80% of the Arab children suffer from malnutrition.

"In the past ten years, as directed by the highest levels of government of the Islamic republic of Iran, over 500,000 hectares of indigenous Ahwazi farmers land have been confiscated and given to non-indigenous Persian settlers, a scheme designed to break up and change the ethnic structure and racial mix of the province ...

"There is a systematic effort by the Islamic Republic of Iran to strip indigenous Arabs of Ahwaz from their national identity, culture, language, and customs and they are faced with assimilation and a lowered status to the ranks of second and third class citizens. Any Ahwazi demands for basic human rights, including education in their mother tongue, sharing of wealth and rights of employment or to protest ethnic cleansing, have often been labeled as 'separatist', 'secessionist', 'Wahabis' or called 'stooges of foreign countries' or 'danger to security and territorial integrity' ...

"In the past 12 months alone, at least 21 Ahwazi human rights and political activists were publicly hanged (three were executed just days after UN Human Rights Commissioner, Ms. Arbour, visited Tehran in September 2007) despite the appeal by the European Union Commission, international Human Rights Organization and in a blatant defiance to an appeal by the independent experts Mr. Philip Alston, Mr. Leandro Despouy, and Mr. Manfred Nowak who issued a statement urging the Iranian Government to 'stop the imminent execution of seven men belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority and grant them a fair and public hearing.'"

The Ahwazi Arab delegation called for the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples to "organise a fact finding trip to the province of Khuzestan to investigate land confiscation, ethnic cleansing and especially the killing of 151 indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs by Iranian security forces" since the April 2005 uprising.

The Iranian delegate responded by saying: "This so-called NGO, AHRO, which is based in London is responsible for many bombings and explosions in Ahwaz. This so called NGO is secessionist and conducted the bombing in Ahwaz that killed many people."

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The Iranian response at the PFII session was risible, yet predictable. The regime maintains anyone who supports indigenous rights in Iran is a secessionist and terrorist, without offering any supporting evidence. The fact that AHRO is based in Washington has not stopped Iran from claiming it is supported by British intelligence, which is Tehran's stock answer to any criticism of its treatment of its Arab population. Even if the delegation had sworn allegiance to the Supreme Leader, they would have been denounced as terrorists and separatists for even raising the issue of indigenous rights in Iran.

"The unruly behaviour by the Iranian delegation went down poorly in the PFII session, which is usually a sober affair. Indigenous groups from across the world saw for themselves that the Iranian delegation wanted to silence and intimidate Ahwazi Arabs by banging on tables and making wild accusations. As a result, the Ahwazi delegation was applauded and received a warm response from NGOs and representatives of foreign governments. Iran's hysterical reaction backfired badly."

Iran is represented on the UNPFII by Paimanach Hasteh, a US-educated environmental scientist who served as Director of the Department of Air Pollution Control of the Traffic Control Company in Tehran before taking up a career in the foreign ministry.

Iran: Army commander assassinated

Iran: Army commander assassinated

A senior officer in Iran's 92nd Armored Division was assassinated during a patrol near the Iran-Iraq border on 24 April, according to a government news agency.

Colonel Mortaza Ranjbar, who originates from Kazeroun in Fars Province, was gunned down while leading a team of monitors reportedly deployed to investigate Ahwazi Arab unrest. The 92nd Armored Division is the Iranian army's main tank division.

The area has seen a number of armed attacks on the security forces by militant Ahwazi Arabs. The Iranian regime has blamed Britain for recent attacks on paramilitary Bassij forces visiting Iran-Iraq War battlefields, claiming that the militants are being armed by British forces stationed in Al-Amarah in Iraq. The claims were made on the Tabnak website, which is affiliated to Iran's powerful Expediency Discernment Council, the consultative group chaired by Hashemi Rafsanjani and appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The group claiming responsibility for the killing of Bassij members is the Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas Brigade, which was unknown before the attacks. The Brigade claims that it killed four members of the Iranian security forces and injured seven, without sustaining any casualties. It says the personnel were travelling to visit an Iran-Iraq War battlefield for the Nowruz holiday. Arab children began attacking the bus convoy with stones before the armed group opened fire.

The Brigade said the attack was carried out in response to the torturing and killing of Ahwazi Arabs. It pledged to strike any Iranian military or paramilitary units inside the "occupied Ahwazi territories" in response to the "unjust policies" and would continue the attacks "so long as there is even one Iranian soldier on Ahwazi soil." The armed group is named after Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas, one of the Prophet Muhammed's companions.

In another development, the Iranian regime has banned Arabs serving in the army from owning mobile phones to prevent the leaking of information.

BAFS does not support separatism or any armed Ahwazi groups, favouring instead a broad coalition based on non-violent civil disobedience to create democratic change in Iran.
Germany invests in Iran's military-industrial zone

Germany invests in Iran's military-industrial zone

A delegation of German businesses may invest up to US$300 million in the controversial Arvand Free Trade Zone (AFTZ), which is being established through the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population.

Reports in the official Iranian media suggest that US$20 million will be invested in a paper mill in the zone, with construction due to begin by June. Other industries cited as attracting German investment include the production of industrial alcohol, pharmaceuticals and edible oil.

The region has witnessed serious labour unrest as a result of unpaid wages, particularly in the sugar mill and ship-building industries. Workers have complained that they are faced with starvation due to poor labour conditions. The Iranian government and the private sector have sought to crush labour activism, using the Lebanese Hezbollah to carry out their dirty work. At the same time, the Arvand Free Trade Zone Organisation is expropriating Arab-owned land around Mohammareh (Khorramshahr) and Abadan, with thousands of villagers being made homeless. The practice has been condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, and leading human rights groups. In the past month, the Iranian regime has cut off drinking supplies to Arab villages in order to force them off their lands ahead of acquisition under the auspices of the AFTZ.

Spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), Nasser Bani Assad, said: "German investment will help support the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs and the crushing of the labour movement. Foreign businesses involved in the AFTZ have Ahwazi Arab blood on their hands. We will find out which German businesses are supporting the regime's racist campaign and we will name and shame them. We are prepared for a strong disinvestment campaign and we will take action at a European level.

"Volkswagen was built on Jewish slave labour. We say 'never again'. Ahwazi Arabs demand nothing less than fair compensation, labour representation, a living wage and an end to discrimination and persecution for the sake of the profits of the hated mullahs and their foreign backers. The Germans have forgotten the lessons of their country's bloody past."
Iran accuses Britain for attacks on Bassij

Iran accuses Britain for attacks on Bassij

The Iranian regime has blamed Britain for recent attacks on its paramilitary Bassij forces visiting Iran-Iraq War battlefields (click here for article).

The Tabnak website's "proof" rests on a UK telephone number found on a mobile phone seized by the security forces in arrests that followed the attacks, which led to several Bassij deaths. It also claims that the guns used in the attacks were supplied by British forces stationed in Al-Amarah in Iraq. It said the first attack on the Bassij was carried out by domestic groups, but the second attack involved foreigners.

The Tabnak website is affiliated to Iran's powerful Expediency Discernment Council, the consultative group chaired by Hashemi Rafsanjani and appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) received a statement from an Ahwazi group named the Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas Brigade which claimed responsibility for an armed attack on a bus travelling along the Bostan-Howaiza road on 27 March at 8pm. The message was passed on by the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO), whose leader Faleh Abdullah al-Mansouri, a Dutch citizen, is currently being held in prison in Iran following his abduction from Syria in May 2006. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for on the Iranian regime not to execute al-Mansouri. BAFS has no links to the ALO or the Brigade claiming responsibility for the attacks.

The Brigade claims that it killed four members of the Iranian security forces and injured seven, without sustaining any casualties. It says the personnel were travelling to visit an Iran-Iraq War battlefield for the Nowruz holiday. Arab children began attacking the bus convoy with stones before the armed group opened fire.

The Brigade said the attack was carried out in response to the torturing and killing of Ahwazi Arabs. It pledged to strike any Iranian military or paramilitary units inside the "occupied Ahwazi territories" in response to the "unjust policies" and would continue the attacks "so long as there is even one Iranian soldier on Ahwazi soil." The armed group is named after Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas, one of the Prophet Muhammed's companions.
Ahwazis at Downing Street

Ahwazis at Downing Street

Ahwazi Arab representatives will visit 10 Downing Street on 21 April to urge the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to prioritise Ahwazi Arab rights in all bipartisan talks with Iran and at a European level. They will provide the Prime Minister with details of the latest atrocities against Ahwazi Arabs, including the recent halt in drinking water supplies to Arab villages along the Shatt al-Arab.

The Downing Street visit marks the conclusion of a series of events held in London in April to mark both the third anniversary of the peaceful Ahwazi uprising, in which over 160 Arabs were killed by security forces, as well as the life of Ahwazi Arab leader Mansour Silawi al-Ahwazi, who died recently in London.

Ahwazi Arabs have engaged in a successful lobbying campaign in the British Parliament. The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has given evidence at the Conservative Human Rights Commission in the Palace of Westminster.

An Early Day Motion promoted by BAFS, which condemned the "long-running persecution of the Ahwazi Arabs" and mass executions of Ahwazi Arab activists, was signed by 49 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, including the Chair of the British Parliament's powerful Intelligence and Security Committee, Paul Murphy.

Foreign Minister Kim Howell has also voiced his "deep concern" about Iran's execution of Ahwazi Arabs and has pledged to take "all available opportunities to make clear to the Iranian authorities our concerns about minority rights in Iran."

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "It is vital that the British government maintains pressure on Iran to help stop the violent persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. We are pleased to have this opportunity to visit Downing Street to lodge our concerns."
AHWAZI DEMONSTRATION IN LONDON

AHWAZI DEMONSTRATION IN LONDON


Ahwazi Arabs are staging a demonstration and a day of meetings in the East End of London on 20 April.

The day of activism will start at 11am outside the East London Mosque, where Ahwazi Arabs will call for the solidarity of Tower Hamlets' Muslim population, which represents one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe. Ahwazi Arabs will then march along Whitechapel and up Brick Lane, which is the heart of London's Bangladeshi community. The march will end at Oxford House in Derbyshire Street, where there will be a series of meetings in honour of Mansour Silawi al-Ahwazi, an Ahwazi Arab leader and founding member of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) who died recently in London. Guest speakers will include representatives of the Ahwazi, Kurdish, Azeri and Balochi communities of Iran as well as representatives of Arab Media Watch, Henry Jackson Society and the Green party.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "We want to raise awareness of the plight of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran and generate solidarity from the Bangladeshi community. Bangladeshis fought against the rule of the Pakistani Islamic republic for over 20 years and as a cultural and linguistic minority suffered greatly to win their freedom and to live in a secular, democratic society that respected their cultural rights. Ahwazis also want to be rid of the oppressive mullahs and to live in a democratic Iran with their culture and their rights respected. We also want to show the British Muslim community that those living under religious tyranny yearn to be free and that democracy and secularism is always preferable for ethnic and religious minorities and women."
FREE TIBET! FREE AL-AHWAZ!

FREE TIBET! FREE AL-AHWAZ!


The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) is supporting the Free Tibet demonstration in London on 6 April when the Olympic Flame is carried through the British capital.

Both Tibet and the Ahwazi Arab homeland are the victims of aggressive Chinese capitalism, which is trampling on the rights of indigenous groups the world over. In Khuzestan - known as Al-Ahwaz to its indigenous Arab inhabitants - China's Sinopec has signed a US$2bn agreement with the Iranian regime for the development of the Yadavaran oilfield.

The oilfield lies under traditional Ahwazi Arab lands and its development will mean yet more forced displacement for this persecuted and impoverished ethnic group. The regime has repeatedly turned down appeals by local parliamentary representatives for a meagre 1.5% redistribution of oil profits back to the indigenous people of this oil-rich region. Under the agreement, China will pay Iran as much as US$100bn over 25 years for liquefied natural gas and oil and a 51% stake in Yadavaran, but the local population will not see one rial of this money. Ethnic discrimination and poor educational standards also ensure that Ahwazi Arabs will not benefit from any job opportunities created by the development.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "China is raping Tibet and raping Al-Ahwaz for its profits, but the indigenous peoples of these nations are only rewarded with more social inequality, more state terrorism and more cultural repression.

"Ahwazi Arabs share the same political aspirations as the Tibetans. We demand cultural freedom, representation through democratic elections and political autonomy from the central government. This is the right of all free peoples. The oppressed should work in mutual solidarity to realise these demands.

"We say: Free Tibet! Free Al-Ahwaz! No to Chinese imperialism!"

Protest on the official Olympic Torch Relay route
Gather at Queensway at 11am,
Bedford Place at 11.45am
or Whitehall at 12.30pm
Click here for full details

Also, come along to the Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally
2.30pm at Argyle Square
Click for full details
Iran cuts drinking water to Arab towns and villages

Iran cuts drinking water to Arab towns and villages

The Iranian government has cut off drinking water supplies to Arab towns and villages along the left bank of the Shatt Al-Arab, causing social unrest and fears of an outbreak of disease among Arabs, according to a number of independent reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS).

Local people have claimed that the cut in drinking water is either in revenge for recent attacks on visitors to the Iran-Iraq War battlefields or in order to pressure indigenous Ahwazi Arabs to leave their traditional lands.

Affected villages include Qufbeh Menuuhi and Khosroabad (Khazalabad) around Abadan and villages along the Shatt al-Arab up to Khorramshahr (Mohammareh).

Although the area has many large rivers, such as the Karoon and the Karkeh as well as the Shatt al-Arab, water has become salinated by intensive sugar cane production, making the water undrinkable, particularly at the mouth of the Karoon where it feeds into the Shatt al-Arab. The extent of the river pollution in the area has led Iranian scientists to declare it an environmental "crisis zone."

During the 1990s, riots broke out in the oil town of Abadan, which lies on the Shatt Al-Arab, over the lack of drinking water. The security forces killed dozens Ahwazi Arabs in the water riots. The government eventually responded to the problem by supply drinking water in tanks that served villages and towns in the affected areas.

The halt in drinking water supply is likely to lead to outbreaks of water-born diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Local Arabs have not been informed of the reason for the water cuts. Some believe the cuts have been carried out in revenge for recent attacks on bus convoys taking members of the Rahiyan-e-Nur visiting battlefields from the Iran-Iraq War. The Rahiyan-e-Nur is a section of the hardline volunteer paramilitary force, the Bassij, and its name means "those heading to the light." An Arab secessionist group, the Sa'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas Brigade, has claimed responsibility for an armed attack on buses carrying Rahiyan-e-Nur pilgrims travelling along the Bostan-Howaiza. It has launched the attacks, which it claims have killed four members of the security services, in revenge for the government's "unjust policies". Ethnic riots have also recently broken out in response to the death of Ahwazi Arab leader and BAFS founder Mansour Silawi al-Ahwazi in London.

Ahwazi Arabs also believe that the drinking water has been cut to force them from their villages to expand the Arvand Free Zone, a military-industrial complex being developed along the Shatt al-Arab. Arabs living on Minoo Island, south of Abadan, have already faced state intimidation and expulsion. Most indigenous Arabs in the region believe this is in line with the government's ethnic cleansing programme, which was outlined in a letter written by the then vice-president Ali Abtahi and leaked to the press in April 2005.