Iranian Arab opposition group says Iran abducted former leader in Turkey

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An Iranian Arab opposition group accused on Friday the Iranian regime of abducting one of its former leaders in Turkey.

The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), an Iranian-Arab separatist group, said in a statement that Iranian intelligence agents abducted Habib Chaab – also known as Habib Eseywed – after “luring” him to Turkey.


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ASMLA said a Gulf state aided in the abduction of Chaab. The group, however, did not specify which country.

Activists say Ankara has deported dozens of Iranian activists and asylum seekers. The Kurdistan Human Rights Network says Turkey deported 33 Iranian Kurdish activists to Tehran last December.

Iran, which considers ASMLA a terrorist organisation, is yet to comment on the matter.

The Arab nationalist group seeks a separate state inside Iran’s oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province.

Ahwazi Arabs say they are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights, as well as facing discrimination due to their Arab identity.

Some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy.

In 2017, Ahmad Mola Nissi, ASMLA’s founder, was shot dead in the Netherlands. A year later, Iran accused the group of being responsible for a deadly attack on a military parade in Ahwaz that killed 25 people. AMSLA denies the accusation.

In recent years, a number of Iranian dissidents have been arrested in neighbouring countries and taken to Iran.

In August, Iran said it arrested US-based opposition figure Jamshid Sharmahd. Details of his arrest and subsequent travel to Iran remain a mystery.

Last year, Iran announced the arrest of Iranian journalist-turned-activist Ruhollah Zam. Last October, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said they had “trapped” Zam, who had been given political asylum in France and was also based in other parts of Europe, in a “complex operation using intelligence deception.”

He was sentenced to death in June for allegedly fuelling anti-government unrest in late 2017 on social media, according to Iranian media.

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