Gay campaigner calls for solidarity with Iranian activists

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Gay and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell has called on the gay community to show solidarity with the Ahwazi community within Iran following the suspected execution of two gay, Ahwazi teenagers in the country last month.

“The Iranian regime is planning the imminent execution of 10 Ahwazi human rights activists from Khuzestan province in the south-west of Iran. They were sentenced to death after secret trials in June. The Iranian supreme court upheld their death sentences on 25 July,” Peter Tatchell warned today.

The Ahwazis are the minority Arab community situated in the south-west of Iran, a country that is primarily Persian. They are also religiously mixed, although the majority are Shi’a Muslims (the country’s main religion) but there are also significant groups of Ahwazi Sunnis, Jews and Christains.

“It is believed that both the gay teenagers executed in the city of Mashhad on 19 July 2005 were Ahwazis. The ethnic background of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni may have been a contributing factor that led to their execution,” Mr Tatchell continued. “It is important that the gay community shows solidarity with all the victims of the murderous Iranian regime – and that other victims show solidarity with gay Iranians. United together, the Iranian people can triumph over the clerical dictatorship.”

“A further 22 Arab activists are expected to be handed death sentences at the end of their trials, which are being held in secret with no independent observers allowed to attend the court. They are victims of trumped up charges, for which there is no evidence.

“The Tehran regime is now holding Ahwazi children as young as 2 and 4 years old as hostages in prison, in a bid to force their political and human rights activist parents (who are on the run and in hiding) to surrender to the police. If the parents hand in themselves to the authorities, their children will be released, but they will face execution.

“In the last year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed and 150 have disappeared (presumed killed and buried in unmarked graves), according to the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization.”

The Human Rights campaigner then went on to claim that Iran is “a racist state, with a covert agenda for the ethnic cleansing of the Ahwazi Arab people.

“Tehran’s land seizures, forced population relocations, massacres, arrests, jailings, tortures and executions of Ahwazi Arabs are crimes against humanity under international law.

“Despite living in the region of Iran richest in oil, the Ahwazi Arab people are victims of a cruel, deliberate impoverishment by the Iranian regime, with half the population living in gross poverty and 80 percent of children suffering from malnutrition.

“We support the efforts of the Iranian people to end the racist, homophobic and misogynist tyranny in Tehran and to establish a democratic, secular state that ensures human rights for all the ethnic, sexual, religious and cultural minorities of Iran.

“Foreign military intervention in Iran would be morally wrong and counter-productive. Reform must come from within, by and for the Iranian people themselves.”

Mr Tatchell has written to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan raising the cases of those who face execution.