Ahwazis Appeal to Jaafari to Break with Tehran
Jaafari was chosen by the Shia-dominated United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which won 51 per cent of the vote in January's election. The UIA includes the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Jaafari's Da'awa party, both of which were bankrolled by Tehran and continue to have links to the regime.
Arab Ahwazis, the oppressed indigenous people of the Iranian province of Khuzestan, have urged the Jaafari administration to protect the human rights of thousands of Ahwazi refugees living in Iraq.
The Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) has warned of the "dire situation" faced by the refugees, who are registered with the UNHCR and the Red Cross. There are as many as 10 people to a tent, with the situation of over-crowding and disease worsening following the outbreak of the Iraq War two years ago.
Since the Iraq War, Ahwazis have been expelled from their camps in the Kut and Al-Amarah areas of southern Iraq; their homes and businesses were looted and burned by armed militias under the control of Iranian security forces in southern Iraq. Their daily food rations from ICRC have been denied and they have been barred access to education. It was unclear if this was done with or without the knowledge of the government of Iyad Allawi.
Daniel Brett, Chairman of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Prime Minister Jaafari must now work towards ethnic and religious harmony in Iraq and the region. But he can only do this if the rights of all minorities are respected and he acts as a neutral leader, working neither for Tehran nor Washington but for Iraq.
"We call on Mr Jaafari to show solidarity with all groups suffering persecution in the Middle East. The Ahwazis, Kurds, Turkmen and other minorities are experiencing the kind of violent repression meted out to his own people under Saddam Hussein and we hope he shows solidarity with them.
"At the very least, Mr Jaafari should give adequate protection for those fleeing persecution in Iran. We hope that he will also promote secularism, human rights and democracy throughout the region."
The Ahwazis, who are Arabs and mostly Shia, are also cautioning Mr Jaafari against copying the theocratic model of government in Iran.
"An Islamic state built on the Iranian model will never work and will only divide a nation recovering from war," said Mr Brett. "In Iran, theocracy is politically, socially and economically regressive and stands on the brink of collapse. This week has witnessed increased ethnic tensions in Iran, with rioting in Kurdish cities.
"Mr Jaafari must affirm his political independence and reject any moves by Tehran to use his government to extend its authority, for the sake of political and economic stability in Iraq and the rest of the region."