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Parliamentary motion on Ahwazi Arabs

An Early Day Motion condemning the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs was put on the House of Commons' order books this week.

EDM 184 is sponsored by Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell and Mark Durkan, MP for Northern Ireland's nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. The EDM comes after the Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN) organised a meeting between Sir Bob and a number of Ahwazi representatives at the House of Commons in April.
  • The motion states:That this House is appalled by the persecution and discrimination faced by the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west Khuzestan region of Iran by the authorities in Tehran that has resulted in high levels of poverty, illiteracy and child malnutrition not seen elsewhere in Iran;
  • expresses serious concern that the Iranian security forces have targeted government critics within the community, subjected them to torture and forced them to face secret and biased trials in revolutionary courts
  • condemns the reporting of confessions of those who have been held in custody without access to lawyers and who are likely to have been tortured; 
  • welcomes the recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office report on Iran highlighting the Iranian government's discriminatory practices and violence against Ahwazi Arabs and other ethnic minorities;
  • is mindful of the non-implementation of the recommendations made by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Iran of 2010 that call for the guarantee of the protection of the civil and political rights of all, particularly dissidents and members of minority groups and the end of torture and secret detention;
  • and calls on the Government to encourage the relevant Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council to seek invitations for the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit Arab districts unimpeded and interview Ahwazi Arab political prisoners without the presence of government officials and security personnel. 
previous EDM tabled in 2006 also condemned the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs and drew attention to the planned execution of 10 Arab political prisoners. It was signed by 49 MPs and was one of the best supported EDMs in the session following a campaign by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, an affiliate of the AASN.

AASN director Daniel Brett said: "Early Day Motions are non-binding and most are not debated in parliament, but they can influence government policy. They serve the function of petitions, carrying the weight of parliament.

"Over the next few weeks we will be working with our partners to ensure that this EDM gets the widest possible endorsement.

"While the UK may lack political leverage over Iran's internal human rights problems, this EDM outlines the role the British government can take through multilateral means. Recognition of the persecution and discrimination faced by Ahwazi Arabs also lends weight to political asylum claims."