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Iran: Tatchell in gay, spy & terror smear

Iran: Tatchell in gay, spy & terror smear

Fabricated claim of links to UK spy agency & Arab terrorists

Homosexuality & gay rights work highlighted to discredit Arab cause

London, UK - 4 August 2015

Iran's Rahyab News has made bizarre, fabricated claims that LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is linked to Britain’s spy agency MI6 and to Arab terrorist organisations. It has also flagged up his homosexuality and activism for LGBT equality in an apparent bid to discredit the cause of Iran’s persecuted Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority and to turn them against him.

The Rahyab News report can be read here: http://goo.gl/IqXIBg
Google Translate gives a rough translation into English.

“I am honoured and flattered that the Iranians think my efforts are worth commenting on. Clearly, they are rattled by my support for Ahwazi Arab human rights; otherwise they’d ignore me and the Arab cause. Similar smears are spread by the Iranian authorities and media against critical journalists and activists, including the BBC Persian Service staff,” said Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“The Rahyab News story threatens to reveal more about what it calls the relationship between the Arab cause and the gay issue. It is encouraging that Arab campaigners seem unfazed by them highlighting my gayness and my work for LGBT rights,” he said.

In addition, the Rahyab News report seeks to discredit Dan Brett as a MI6 agent. He is a non-gay UK researcher and activist who also works with and assists Ahwazi Arab human rights campaigns.

The smears follow a protest at the London offices of the state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) last month, when both Brett and Tatchell joined peaceful Ahwazi Arab demonstrators who were objecting to investment deals that exploit the oil-rich Arab region of Iran without the consent of the Ahwazi people.

They interrupted a reception at the NIOC hosted by the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce and attended by Lord Lamont, former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer,
and Tory MP Richard Bacon, who heads the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran.

“Together with photographers, we were violently attacked at the reception by men believed to be Iranian security and intelligence agents, who reportedly claimed diplomatic immunity when we asked the police to prosecute them for assault,” added Mr Tatchell.

“It is absurd for Rahyab News to suggest that the protest was organised by an Arab terrorist group and that I am holding a placard defending the rights of terrorists. Their own photo of the protest shows me with a placard that reads: ‘NIOC = Environmental destruction + human rights abuse.’

“The demonstration was in defence of Iran’s persecuted Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, who suffer grave political, economic and cultural discrimination. Their lands were annexed by Iran in 1925. They are rich in oil, yet the Arab population lives in dire poverty. Protests by Arabs are punished with severe repression. Last year, the Iranian regime hanged the revered Ahwazi Arab poet and cultural worker Hashem Shabani on trumped up charges of terrorism, after torture and without a fair trial,” said Mr Tatchell.

ENDS

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