Feb 10, 2011

Ahwazi: More Action Needed to Free Long-Term Prisoner

Abdullah al Mansouri, an ethnic Ahwazi political activist with Dutch nationality, remains imprisoned after five years. Particularly in light of the recent execution of fellow Dutch-Iranian Bahrami, international efforts for his release need to increase.

Below is an article published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

Dutch-Iranian Abdullah al Mansouri has been in prison in Iran for over five years. His family has had no contact with him since mid-September [2010]. His son Adnan’s fears have grown following the shock execution of Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami, who was also being held in Iran. He tells Radio Netherlands Worldwide that the Dutch foreign ministry isn’t doing enough to help his father.

“The last time we were in touch was the middle of September 2010. My father usually rings every one or two months.”

Mr al Mansouri was arrested in Syria in May 2006 and extradited to Iran. He was chairman of the Ahwazi Liberation Organisation, which pushes for independence for Iran’s Arabic minority. In 1988, he was sentenced to death by an Iranian court for terrorism but managed to escape, and fled to the Netherlands. He has received a Dutch state honour for his work with Amnesty International.

After being extradited in 2006, Mr al Mansouri was again sentenced to death but, as a result of Dutch and other pressure from outside Iran, this was commuted to 30 years’ imprisonment. There are even rumours that the term has been reduced to 15 years. It is not known where he is being held. Adnan has little faith that he will ever again see his father, who is now 70, or even that he is still alive.

Adnan was shocked, but not really surprised, by the execution of Zahra Bahrami for alleged drugs trafficking. She was apparently hanged in secret early in the morning on 29 January [2011].

“Sad to say, we can congratulate the Dutch government and more especially the foreign ministry for having failed. They’ve not learned from their mistakes. They say they continued to have faith in the promises made by Iran. But as far as Abdullah al Mansouri is concerned, Iran has broken one promise after another.”

Adnan, who like his father is active in the Ahwazi Liberation Organisation, complains that the foreign ministry is not pro-active enough.

“We have to look into everything ourselves. If we don’t initiate, the foreign ministry does nothing,” he explains. “My father needs medication. We’ve asked the ministry to mediate, but we’ve heard nothing. We’ve asked for money for a lawyer but without result.”

The foreign ministry says it telephoned Adnan on Tuesday [8 February 2011], the first contact since mid-September, and that it understands his frustration and anger. A spokesman, however, explains that the situation is also frustrating for the ministry:

“Our efforts are concentrated on providing consular support, medicine and mediation. That’s what we do - if, that is, Iran allows us access to the prisoner.”

Iran refuses to recognise that people born in the country can change their nationalities. This was the case with Zahra Bahrami and is the case with Mr al Mansouri. This policy on the part of Iran has been enforced more rigorously over the past year or so. This is why Dutch diplomats have been refused access to the prisoners.

Amnesty International has been in touch with the Dutch foreign ministry about Mr al Mansouri. “The Netherlands clearly made errors in the Bahrami case, but it looks to us as thought the ministry has done its best for Mr al Mansouri,” says Dutch Amnesty spokesman Ruud Bosgraaf.