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Ahwazi Federalists Seek Political Agreement With Opposition Mujahideen

Ahwazi Arab representatives were among the thousands attending the annual convention of the Iranian opposition Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), which was addressed by Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal among many other international dignitaries.

Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) delegate Mona Silawi told Al-Arabiya TV: "The conference said that Iran used deception to secure sanctions relief. Opponents of the Iranian government acknowledged that there was no room for reform and revolution is essential to ensure justice for Iranians and peace in the Middle East.

"We discussed the different alternatives that should be considered and that will bring safety and security not only for Iran but for the whole region. This conference was the first time that non-Persian ethnic groups were addressed as an important factor for change and were acknowledged for their role in this struggle.

"For the past 20 years, AHRO has catalogued how the Iranian government systematically ignores the human rights and human right institutions, but at the same time there are dozens of 'human right organizations and NGOs' that are funded by Islamic Republic of Iran which present report on human rights situation of civilians in Arabic countries. Their lobbyists dismiss our reports and accurate records of human rights violation which we receive and gather in an objective matter from inside Ahwaz and from Ahwazi citizens."

Ahwazi rights advocate Dr Karim Abdian, who is a leading member of the non-Persian opposition coalition Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran, told Ahwaz News: "This year was uniquely different, qualitatively and qualitatively. There were over 40 parliamentarian delegations, many more representative of governments, liberation movements and a huge media contingent of media."

While Dr Abdian criticised the MEK and other opposition groups for ignoring the ethnic issue, he claimed there had been a fundamental reorientation of its position. He said: "The MEK’s 'Free Iran' initiative should be commended for prioritising regime change and could constitute a common platform.

"The implementation of this programme needs to be closely studied. For this to happen, the two categories of opposition - the Persian-led opposition groups such as MEK and non-Persian groups such as the NCRI - need to come to some understanding and form a unified Iranian opposition that can seek regional and international support. The MEK is certainly in a position to lead the Persian opposition initially and enter into negotiations with CNFI for a unity platform."

Dr Abdian outlined the goals of CNFI, which would respect Iran's territorial integrity but provide significant autonomy to non-Persian regions. A federal state would provide the political apparatus to address the cultural, social and economic inequalities that have arisen in Iran as a result of centralised control by a Persian-dominated elite.

He added: "CNFI wants a constitutional guarantee that the rights of self determination is clearly and expressly stipulated where should regions become under pressure from the central government, secession can be an option, if in fact that be decided in an internationally guaranteed and observed referendum."

However, he cautioned non-Persian separatist groups to be realistic in their demands. He said: "A maximalist demand can postpone this coalition and prolong this regime. I think the gap can be overcome with negotiations."