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Iran and Syria flout refugee conventions again: Ahwazi Arabs illegally deported

The Geneva Conventions and the UNHCR have been once again mocked by the regimes in Syria and Damascus as two more Ahwazi Arab refugees are illegally repatriated from Damascus to Tehran.

Hossein Yaber Niesi (29) and Jasem Nabhan Niesi (37) were arrested by the Syrian authorities in April following an extradition request by Iran and deported yesterday, according to reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society from the Danish Ahwazi Friendship Society and Ahwazi Arab opposition groups.

They are being held by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence but have been denied visits by family members or lawyers. There are reliable reports that the two men are being tortured.

The two men are meant to be under UNHCR protection, but are just the latest in a large number of Ahwazi refugees repatriated by Syria. The UNHCR office in Damascus has repeatedly failed to take adequate action, despite a change of leadership. The office itself is known to be infiltrated by the Syrian security services and the Lebanese Hezbollah, a situation the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva have been unable or unwilling to address. The Lebanese Hezbollah, acting on behalf of Iran, has also performed its own arrests and illegal deportations of Ahwazi Arabs in Beirut and earlier this year they kidnapped a sick child and her family from a hospital in a Sunni area of the city.

In view of the UNHCR's failure to protect refugees and the poor security situation facing Ahwazis in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) and its associates defend the right of all Ahwazi Arab asylum seekers to seek sanctuary in Europe.