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Iranian activists detained in Iraqi Kurds

Press Release, International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR):

New York, June 1, 1999: On May 30, 1999 Habibollah Abdullahi, the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) Erbil branch representative, and Abdullah Veissi, a member of that branch's Executive Committee, were arrested by the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) of Iraq.

The pretext given for the arrests was IFIR's "illegal activities." In reality, however, it was IFIR's successful efforts in organizing the protests of Iranian refugees that prompted the reactionary KDP of Iraq to detain our activists and deem our activities illegal.

IFIR unequivocally condemns the imprisonment of our activists and demands their immediate and unconditional release. IFIR holds the KDP of Iraq responsible for their lives and safety. IFIR also calls upon the UNHCR to intervene on behalf of these two refugees and prevent their refoulement (forcible return) to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iranian refugees have always faced serious threats to their lives and security in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iranian government has an extensive surveillance and assassination machinery in that region. In addition, Iraqi Kurdistan is in the hands of factions that have committed untold atrocities and used Iranian refugees as bargaining chips. Moreover, Iranian refugees languish in Iraqi Kurdistan for years without basic amenities and limited possibilities for resettlement. It is under these horrendous conditions that these two activists have struggled for refugee rights.

Only critical international support and solidarity will ensure the safety of these human rights defenders in Iraqi Kurdistan. Any delay in defending them will increase the possibility of their being handed over to the brutal Islamic Republic of Iran. Their lives are in our hands. We must not fail them. We call on groups and individuals to demand their immediate and unconditional release by sending protest e-mails and faxes to the KDP of Iraq with copies to the UNHCR and the "Kurdish Regional Government."

Send protest e-mails or faxes to the KDP of Iraq:

* KDP International Relations, Committee-Washington, e-mail:, tel: (202) 331 9505, fax: (202) 331 9506, address: 1015 18th Street, NW, Suite 704, Washington, DC 20036.

* KDP International Relations Committee-London, e-mail:, tel: +44 171 931 7764, fax: +44 171 931 7765, address: PO Box 7725, London SW1V 3ZD, UK. Send copies of your protest faxes and e-mails to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the UNHCR:

* KRG Representation in the United States, e-mail:, tel: 301-523-6060, fax: 301-946-1383.

* KRG Representation in the United Kingdom, e-mail:, tel: +44 171 808 7512, fax: +44 171 808 7513.

* UNHCR Erbil and Baghdad:,

Send IFIR copies as well:

* International Federation of Iranian Refugees,


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