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Iran Condemns Sweden for Supporting "Separatism"

The Tabnak website, which is owned by the Secretary of Iran's powerful Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaee, has condemned the Swedish Green Party for recently hosting a conference on ethnic rights at the Swedish parliament.

The conference was addressed by Ahwazi Arab Farid Morshedi, a member of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz who won political asylum in Sweden following a campaign by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society and other advocacy groups. Other participants included the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, Komeleh, Azerbaijan Democratic Party, Balochistan National Party and the National Movement for Balochistan. The sons of an Ahwazi Arab tribal leader, Imad and Mohsen Bawi, who were the subject of intensive campaigns by Amnesty International, also addressed the meeting, just weeks after they escaped from prison in Iran with the assistance of the members of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation and the DSPA. They spoke of the execution of their brother Zamel Bawi on trumped up charges of insurgency and "war against God" as well as their ordeal in as political prisoners. Conference participants from Iran's ethnic parties spoke of their support for federalism to resolve long-standing disputes while maintaining the country's territorial integrity.

The Tabnak website claimed that the participating parties had been declared illegal by the Islamic Republic and accused the Swedish Parliament of interfering in Iran's internal affairs. It claimed that the participants advocated the dismantling of Iran in the way the Soviet Union was dismantled. It accused the Swedish Green Party of supporting separatism and devoting large sums of money with a view to destroying Iran.

Participants told the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) that all the representatives present had in fact stated that federalism, as opposed to separatism, would ensure security and stability for Iran and neighbouring countries. The chair of the meeting, a member of the Swedish Green Party, voiced his full support for the programme of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran, particularly its programme of non-violent resistance, and the realisation of ethno-national collective rights in a federal system of government.

Green parties in Europe have in the past condemned any military action in Iran and voted against European Parliamentary resolutions on Iran claiming that they could provide a pretext for war.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The Green movement is highly unlikely to endorse any programme that would entail the destruction of Iran or the country's invasion.

"In contrast to the Islamic Republic, the Greens support the localisation of power, indigenous rights, self-determination and environmental sustainability. These are issues that are close to the heart of Ahwazi Arabs and many other groups in Iran.

"It is clear that Iranian officials are trying to twist the argument and generate distrust among the Greens towards Iran's ethnic rights movement. However, our past involvement with the Greens shows that they will not bow to pressure from Tehran and recognise that there is an overwhelming case to oppose the Iranian regime that does not entail endorsing Washington's agenda.

"Our strongest supporters include English Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP and the Green Party human rights spokesman Peter Tatchell. We are in no doubt that they will not be swayed by Tehran's baseless accusations."