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Grave fears for forcible DIMIA deportation

Grave fears for forcible DIMIA deportation

Grave fears are emerging over what looks in all respects like a "forced" deportation from the Baxter detention centre this morning of an AHWAZ Arab Iranian man.

News is just breaking of fifteen armed riot-gear clad guards forcibly grabbing a distraught Ahwaz Iranian man.

Refugee advocates fear the worst for the man.

Background information about the situation feared for this man follows:

"Amnesty International has revealed that several immediate family members of Iranian refugees who have been held in Baxter for years, are amongst those arrested and injured during ethnic clashes in the southern province of Khuzestan," WA Refugee group Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit said this morning.

"The unrest, a direct result of aggressive intentions and steps by the Iranian government to disperse Ahwazi Arab Iranians, a distinct ethnic group who have traditionally lived in Khuzestan and its capital Ahwaz - described by media in the region as a strategy of "ethnic cleansing" has resulted in arrests and detention of hundreds of Ahwazi - and as now suggested, may well have resulted also in 'hundreds' of deaths."

Several items describing the disturbances and also Amnesty's reaction to the events are reprinted below.

"Amnesty's International Secretariat in London says that the death toll as a result of protests and serious disturbances two weeks ago is much higher than initially indicated, a contact has relayed to refugee advocates in Australia."

"The contact, Dr Ewen Macmillan, has written (reprinted below) to Australian refugee support organisations that at the beginning of last week the Amnesty 'body count' stood at 51, but expected "that this is a fraction of those killed and arrested".

Dr MacMillan also reported that first-line bloodrelatives of Iranian Ahwaz Arabs, currently in detention in the Baxter Centre near Port Augusta, were amongst those arrested and also injured.

"There are about ten Ahwaz Arab Iranians in the Baxter detention centre, and up till now the Immigration Minister has denied their refugee status - just two men have been successful in their claims. The men all based their refugee claim on the fact that they live in the Khuzestan province and because they are of a distinct ethnic origin, rather calling themselves Arabs than Iranians."

"Several of the men are now also suffering serious mental illness after having been in detention of several years. Most of the men have claims for assessment before the Minister based on "new country information" or request for the Minister to personally intervene and grant them humanitarian visas."

"The terrible events in and around Ahwaz should serve as a wake-up call for the Minister, who upon her return from international travel this week, should urgently attend to their claims, "preferably before they go mad", Project SafeCom said.

Dr Ewen Macmillan's letter (section)

"I have been liaising with Amnesty's International Secretariat, who called me on Sunday. So far we have identified 51 corpses, all but two of them unambiguously Arab from their names and clan affiliations."

"Sixteen of these identifications are confirmed from more than one apparently independent source. These include two children, whose identities have been confirmed by three apparently independent sources, although I only have their age group from one source."

"One source has indicated that seven security personnel have been killed, and another that a third Arab child was killed with his mother. At present, we assume that this is a fraction of those killed and arrested. I expect to compile a list of detainees for Amnesty in the days ahead."

"Violence is widespread, and has spread from Ahwaz to suburbs such as Mallaashiiya and Kuut Sayyid Saalih, and other towns including Sarbandar and Mahshuur. Casualties appear to have been particularly high in Hamiidiiya. Other settlements affected include Khazraj, Kuut Abdallah and Zargaan."

URGENT ACTION Iran: Arbitrary arrest/torture

18 April 2005

....detained or around the city of Ahvaz, south-western Iran, after protests about the government's supposed plan to disperse or dilute the country's Arab population. They are not known to have been charged, or to have had access to legal representation, their families or any medical treatment.


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