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Crime

Peter Tatchell detained by police while protesting Iran’s human rights abuses

Nick Duffy July 3, 2015

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been detained by police, while protesting abuses by the Iranian government.

The activist was part of a group protesting outside the London HQ of National Iranian Oil Company, campaigning against the persecution of the Ahwazi Arab community.

Police were called when the protesters crashed into a meeting – and Mr Tatchell was detained along with other protesters and photographers.

All have been released without charge.

Mr Tatchell told PinkNews: “Together with my Peter Tatchell Foundation colleague Pliny Soocoormanee, I joined a protest by Ahwazi Arabs at the London headquarters of the Iranian National Oil Company.

“We were protesting against the Iranian government’s exploitation of oil in the Arab region, while denying the indigenous population the benefits of oil riches.

“A group of 15 of us stormed into a meeting organised by the British Iranian chamber of commerce, to promote British trade and investment with Iran.”

The rights activist continued: “I confronted the head of the BICC, Lord Lamont, and Richard Bacon MP, chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Iran. I don’t think it’s right that British businesspeople are pushing to open up trade and investment with Iran, while the Arab minority is being impoverished, and suffering gross human rights abuses.

“Both protesters and photographers were violently set upon by Iranian agents, despite our peaceful, passive protest.

“Many of us were kicked, punched and put in headlocks. When the police were called, Iranian officials were demanding our arrest and tried to get us prosecuted on trumped up assault charges.

Mr Tatchell continued: “Fortunately, some of the photographic footage showed that the Iranians were the aggressors. The fury, anger, hatred and violence of the Iranians was absolutely astonishing.

“Seven protesters and four photographers were detained, but we were released without charge after about an hour.”

He added: “Richard Bacon blanked us. When he tried to talk to him he ignored me. Lord Lamont acknowledged there were serious human rights abuses against the Arabs in Iran, but said he still supported British co-operation with the Iranian government.

“I’ve been working with Ahwazi Arab activists for the last decade. Although they come from a fairly conservative culture, they’ve always welcomed me as an openly gay man, inviting me to speak at their rallies.

“By showing solidarity with the Ahwazi Arab struggle for justice, we seem to be debunking homophobic attitudes, and getting people to rethink attitudes towards LGBT people.”

More: activist, Iran, Iran, iranian, LGBT, London, London, Middle East, Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation, protest

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