August 15, 2006

UNPO on Illegal Syrian Handover of Ahwazi-Arabs to Iran

The Hague, 15 August 2006-

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is deeply concerned about the recent Syrian handover to Iranian Authorities of Ahwazi-Arab (ethnic Arabs of southwest Iran) political refugees. UNPO has appealed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres, to take immediate action and call upon both the Syrian and Iranian governments to respect international humanitarian treaties, end forcible deportation of political refugees and return the individuals to countries of assigned resettlement.

Background

The Syrian Human Rights Committee report that Syria has informed the UNHCR office in Damascus about the following four Ahwazi-Arabs having been handed over to Iranian Authorities:

1. Falleh Abdullah al-Mansouri (60), UNHCR mandate holder, political refugee and Dutch citizen;

2. Taher Ali Mazraa (42), UNHCR mandate holder, political refugee awaiting relocation;

3. Rasool Ali Mazra (55), UNHCR mandate holder, political refugee awaiting relocation;

4. Jamal Obaidawi (32), UNHCR mandate holder, political refugee, student, awaiting resettlement to third country.

Moreover, on 11 May 2006, in Damascus, Syrian security forces arrested Mr. Saeed Awda al-Saki, another Ahwazi-Arab UNHCR mandate holder and political refugee.

Three days later he was forcibly returned to Iran, where he is now held incommunicado at an undisclosed place. Mr. Saki was en-route to Norway for resettlement, according to UNHCR Damascus Office. The return of Mr. al-Saki and the above-mentioned refugees is in breach of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees.

Furthermore, the Ahwazi refugees face arrest and possibly torture and execution, as several recent incidents bear witness to, including the public execution of the Ahwazi-Arabs Ali Afrawi (17) and Mehdi Nawaseri (20) in March this year.

Currently, there are about fifty other ethnic Ahwaz-Arab UNHCR-recognized political refugees and asylum seekers in Syria who may face extradition to Iran, living in constant fear of illegal deportation.


[18 August - The UNHCR informs that contrary to what was stated by other sources, it has not received confirmation from Syria that Taher Ali Mazraa, Rasool Ali Mazra and Jamal Obaidawi have been deported to Iran. Meanwhile the whereabouts of these Ahwazi individuals remains unknown.]

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