Aug 10, 2006

Ahwazi: Syria Deports Ahwazis to Iran, Including Dutch National

The Syrian government has deported all Ahwazis, including UNHCR registered refugees, including a Dutch national, in its custody to Iran. Furthermore Mr. Said Awdeh Saki (pictured) was deported previously to Iran and his location is currently unknown

The British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS) has learnt that the Syrian government has deported all Ahwazis, including UNHCR registered refugees and a Dutch national, in its custody to Iran where they will face arrest, torture and execution. Eight Ahwazis were detained by the Syrian authorities in May, including Faleh Abdullah Al-Mansouri, a 60 year old Dutch national and leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation.

Three were later released, but Said Awdeh Saki (pictured), a UNHCR registered refugee who was due to be relocated to Norway, was deported to Iran by the Syrian authorities. Saki is now being held at an unknown location in Iran.

Syria has defied calls by the Dutch government, the UNHCR, Amnesty International and Arab human rights groups, including the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation, to release the remaining detainees and instead sent them to Iran.

At the weekend, members of Amnesty International protested outside the Syrian embassy in Brussels calling for Al-Mansouri's release. The ALO leader is well-known in Maastricht, where he lived before he was kidnapped by the Syrian regime, and is friends with the city's mayor.

The ALO has confirmed that Al-Mansouri has been deported after receiving a letter from the Dutch government informing them of Syria's deportation decision. The UNHCR has also received notification of the deportations.

Others sent to Iran include Gamal Obaidy, a 34 year old student at Damascus University and Chair of Ahwazi Student Union in Syria, and Ahwazi political activists Taher Ali Mazrae and Abdulrasoul Ali Mazrae, who are both brothers.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The regime of President Bashar Al-Assad has chosen to align himself with the Islamic Republic of Iran against the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. The move belies his claims of pan-Arab solidarity. The Syrian regime is nothing but a puppet of Tehran and has no respect for humanitarian conventions or international law. President Assad's decision to deport Ahwazis puts the entire Ahwazi community in Damascus, which is thousands strong, under threat.

"Syria's decision comes amid threats against Ahwazi political refugees in the UAE and Kuwait and the assassination of an Ahwazi opposition leader in Iraq's Basra province earlier this year. The European Union must protest strongly at Syria's illegal actions."