As the Iranian election looms closer, the government is again rushing to make false promises to the Arab people of al-Ahwaz. Oppressed and marginalised by the Persian central government in Iran, Ahwazis are subject to systematic discrimination by the Iranian authorities.
The Ahwaz region, located in southwestern Iran, has significant oil and gas resources that account for roughly 80 percent of Iran’s national revenue. As the Iranian government fails to address issues such as poverty, unemployment and the disastrous effects of rerouting the water of the Karoon River to Isfahan, tensions and mistrust grow with the Ahwazi people. The benefits provided to members of the regime’s elite in urban areas, has further angered Ahwazis and proved to them that the Iranian government has no intention of improving their lives and deal with the other issues they face.
As public anger mounts due to the growing humanitarian and environmental crisis, the Iranian government is trying hard to convince the Ahwazi people to place their trust in the regime that has so far not shown any sign of good will toward them. Iranian authorities spend millions of dollars every election to try and convince the Ahwazi people to entrust them with the responsibility of governing them. But, every government, conservative, hard-line or reformist has failed to meet its commitments toward eliminating the discriminatory policies and the ruthless and uncompassionate treatment with which they dealt with the Ahwazi people. Instead, Ahwazis are often denied access to basic services and are subjected to arbitrary arrests and imprisonment and even executions.
Under the term of the current Iranian government, the rates of unemployment, poverty, and crime have consistently risen. Even though it has been in power for over three years, the current government still blames the previous one for the poor state of the Ahwazi people. It is no surprise that Native Ahwazis reject the government’s promises of appointing better officials to administer their affairs. The lack of attention and sheer incompetence of these governors, only contribute to the increasing corruption and discrimination of Ahwazis. Especially given the fact that the next governor to be appointed is likely to be a member of the murderous terrorist organisation, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Since the establishment of the modern Iranian state, in the beginning of the twentieth century, it has instituted a centralist and totalitarian regime in Iran. This was followed by the ousting of the Ahwazi Arab ruler Shaikh Khazaal. To this day, Ahwazi Arabs have had no real opportunity for political, cultural and economic development because they are deprived of their language on the one hand and every aspect of their life and political conditions are dictated by the will of the Iranian government on the other hand. However, Ahwazi Arabs continue to fight for their political destiny outside of the government in order to restore their connections with their own historical culture, social, as well as their political and economic relations with the surrounding Arab countries.
Thus, the 2017 elections in Iran are viewed by Ahwazis as neither free nor democratic, but as a political game from which real political parties that represent them are absent. Ahwazis see the election as a prearranged event orchestrated by the ruling regime and its supporters to show the world how ‘democratic’ it is. Therefore, many Ahwazis believe that the best response is to boycott the entire election process. Many Ahwazi analysts conclude that the upcoming election results will not have any positive social and political effect on the Ahwazis lives. Ultimately, despite the oppression and marginalisation they suffer from, the Arab people of Ahwaz have intensified their cultural and political activities and persist in their struggle to achieve their rights employing various peaceful means.
By: Ali Zidan , an Ahwazi rights activist based in Australia
Note: The views expressed in this article are belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Ahwaz Monitor.