Human rights activist or terrorist? Depends who you ask.
Abdullah al-Mansouri, a former Iranian military official, was also leader of the Ahwaz Liberation Organisation (ALO), an organization working for independence for the minority Ahwazis.
The Ahwazis are an ethnic Arab minority in the Khuzestan province of Iran. They say they are being oppressed by the Iranian regime, and, for example, are not allowed to use Arabic names.
The Ahwazis have used terror to achieve their means. In 1980 an Ahwazi nationalist group, the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRMLA) took over the Iranian embassy in London, first demanding independence and then demanding that their comrades in Iranian jails be freed. The embassy was stormed by British special forces. Five of the terrorists were killed, one, Fowzi Nejad, escaped and was captured. In 2005 public debate arose in the UK on whether Nejad should be allowed to live in the UK as a refugee once he's freed since there's a death sentence against him in Iran. He has since disappeared from the news, and I couldn't find what happened to him.
The ALO was formed by the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA), People's Front for Liberation of Arabistan (PFLA) and the Arab Front for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (AFLA) and was considered a terrorist organization by Iran. I find it interesting that there is not one pro-Ahwazi group with a non-military name.
In 1988 al-Mansouri was sentenced to death by an Iranian military court on charges of terrorism. Fleeing Iran with his family he received refugee status and settled in the Netherlands in the city of Maastricht. There he became active in GroenLinks and in Amnesty International. He was even awarded by the Queen for his efforts on behalf of human rights.
His friends in Amnesty in Maastricht were not aware of his past work for the ALO or of the fact that he, apparently, continued to be involved with the organization. The ALO site is registered under Al-Mansouri's name in the Netherlands, has a Dutch contact email, as well as a Dutch version of the site.
In May 2006 Al-Mansouri traveled to Syria. There he was arrested, together with seven other Ahwazi men, and extradited to Iran.
Syria claims he was arrested since he used an "illegal" Iranian passport. Iran claims that his use of their passport means he will not be treated as a Dutch citizen, and in any case they don't recognize his claim as a refugee. His son, however, claims he had used his Dutch passport, and shows a copy of that passport, along with a Syrian visa.
Amnesty International fears Al-Mansouri is being tortured, and that he will be executed. This past month, they staged protests for his release.
More on his story (in English)
Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)
More on the Ahwazis:
* ALO Site (Ahwaz Liberation Organization / Al-Ahwaz Revolutionary Council)
* Ahwaz Internet Network (National Liberation Movement of Ahwaz)
* British Ahwazi Friendship Society
* Ahwaz bombings (2005)
* Iranian embassy siege (1980)
* The ALO
* Struggle over the Khuzestan province