Iran arrests Iranian Arab opposition figure abroad, Ahwazi group says he was abducted

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Iran has arrested an Iranian Arab opposition figure abroad and taken to him to Tehran, an Iranian lawmaker said on Sunday, amid reports of abduction.

The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), an Iranian Arab separatist group, accused the Iranian regime in a statement on Friday of abducting one of its former leaders while he was in Turkey.

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ASMLA said Iranian intelligence agents abducted Habib Chaab – also known as Habib Eseywed – after “luring” him to Turkey.

Chaab is currently in Tehran being interrogated by Iran’s security and intelligence forces, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee Mojtaba Zolnour was quoted as saying by the parliament’s website ICANA.

Chaab was “arrested abroad and taken to Iran thanks to the vigilance of our country’s security and intelligence branches,” Zolnour said, comparing the case to Ruhollah Zam.

Zam is an Iranian journalist-turned-activist who was arrested by Iranian forces in October 2019 and later sentenced to death in June.

Zolnour did not reveal the location or time of Chaab’s arrest.

“After the necessary information is extracted from this terrorist, he will appear in a fair court [hearing] to be punished for his actions,” he added.

ASMLA, considered a terrorist organization by the Iranian regime, seeks a separate state for the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population inside Iran’s oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province, with its capital city of Ahwaz.

An ethnic minority in Iran, Ahwazi Arabs say they are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights, and face discrimination due to their Arab identity and heritage.

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

Read more: Amnesty calls on Iran to disclose fate of hundreds of detained Ahwazi Arabs

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.

A number of Iranian dissidents have been arrested in neighboring countries and taken to Iran over the past decade.

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

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