Iranian oil HQ in London occupied by Arab protesters
London, UK – 3 July 2015
Lord Lamont and Richard Bacon MP were confronted by Peter Tatchell and Ahwazi Arabs from Iran who peacefully disrupted and briefly occupied a UK-Iran business meeting at the London HQ of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) at 1pm today, Friday 3 July.
Protesters and photographers were violently assaulted by Iranian agents and security staff. The Arabs were subjected to racist abuse by Iranian officials.
The Ahwazi Arabs were protesting against “Tehran’s exploitation of our homeland’s oil reserves without due compensation, the ecological devastation caused by the oil industry and anti-Arab racism and human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.”
They accused the NIOC of “plunder” and demanded “no trade and investment in Al-Ahwaz until Ahwazi Arabs have human rights and freedom to determine their own future.”
PHOTOS of the protest: http://bit.ly/1dCBZcN
The Ahwazi activists were joined by UK human rights campaigners, Peter Tatchell and Dan Brett.
The meeting was attended by Lord Lamont who heads the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce. He was personally confronted by Peter Tatchell over human rights abuses against Arabs by the Tehran regime. Also at the meeting was Tory MP Richard Bacon, who heads the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran.
The meeting was organised by the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC), which promotes UK-Iran trade and investment; bringing together British businesses and Iranian officials. Oil exploitation in the Arab region of Iran – Al-Ahwaz – is a key target.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
“Ahwazi Arabs are a persecuted ethnic minority in Iran. Their homeland in south-west Iran contains most of the country’s oil wealth and petrochemicals plants, as well as most of its rivers and a sizeable proportion of its food production. As such, their land is the target of Iranian and western investment.
“Ahwazi ethnic persecution includes very high rates of poverty. They are denied the benefits of the oil wealth generated from their land, which was annexed by Iran in 1925 – a forcible incorporation into Iran that the Ahwazi Arabs have never accepted.
“The oil and gas industries are responsible for a growing environmental disaster, with Ahwaz City declared by WHO to be the most polluted in the world. Infant mortality and cancer rates are extremely high as a result of air and water pollution.
“Ahwazi Arabs are demanding no trade or investment deals, fearing they will exacerbate their existing economic and political marginalisation and intensify a growing ecological catastrophe. Until Ahwazis are allowed full political expression over the future of their land, they consider foreign companies profiting from their homeland’s resources as an aggression against them. Al-Ahwaz is not for sale.
“The world thinks Iranian President Rouhani is a “moderate”; ignoring the fact that execution rates of Ahwazi Arabs and other dissidents are now higher than under the hardliner Ahmadinejad.
“Moreover, Al-Ahwaz’s environmental crisis is devastating – and worsening. The Karoun and Karkeh rivers are diminished and the marshes are drying up,” said Mr Tatchell.