Tehran’s dirty water politics in Al- Ahwaz

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Access to clean safe drinking water is considered a basic right guaranteed by international laws for all human beings without distinction. In the case of Ahwazi Arab people, however, access to even this basic essential of life is increasingly being denied as part of the Iranian state’s withholding of essential freedoms.

The water crisis facing Ahwazis is heading for catastrophic proportions, particularly since water plays a leading role in the environmental and community life of the region due to the presence of major waterways across the Ahwaz region.

In the Ahwazi communities devastated by the worsening water crisis, the most vulnerable – children – are worst affected. One of the problems is the contamination of the waterways by massive levels of industrial pollution, with many industries in the region pouring untreated toxic and carcinogenic discharge into the waterways. The reasons behind this industrial negligence are varied, including carelessness, corruption, failed projects being abandoned and left to fall into disrepair, and the promotion of individuals without the required environmental awareness and specialist skills to avoid such catastrophes.    

This image, taken in the Falahiyeh area a few months ago, shows the dryness that affects all parts of Al-Ahwaz as a result of the Iranian regime’s diversion of rivers and heavy industrial pollution, turning life into a daily nightmare for countless residents, and generating massive agricultural losses as crop yields, including wheat, decline steeply. The resulting lack of water has turned once-fertile farmland areas into barren, arid lands where nothing can grow. This is part of a systemic policy of persecution and ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arab peoples, intended to drive them from their homelands.

One of the primary reasons behind the worsening water crisis and related environmental pollution and dryness of wetlands and marshes is the regime’s damming of regional waterways (including the Karoon, Karkheh and Jarahi rivers) to divert the waters to Persian central Iran, with a number of the dams also being shoddily built. Another serious problem is the dumping of industrial chemicals, including those used in refining sugar cane, in local waterways. Medical and industrial waste are also routinely discharged directly into the local rivers.

A few days ago, Ahwazi activists uploaded photos to social networking sites showing the existence of worms in the drinking water supply of some residential areas of Susa city, generating widespread outrage at the situation, which it was widely agreed demonstrates the Iranian regime’s contempt for the lives and wellbeing of Ahwazi Arab citizens.

One Ahwazi activist in the area named Shoja Sorkhi said, “The water we use for drinking and washing has an unpleasant smell and a reddish or yellowish-brown colour.” He rejected the claims of the Department of Health in Susa City that the drinking water in the city’s urban and outlying areas is clean and healthy, adding drily, “How can our water be healthy when we find worms and frogs in it?”

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This image, taken in the Susa (Shush) city recently, shows the existence of pathogenic red worms in the drinking water of Ahwazi people.

Despite residents’ repeated submission of documentary proof, including photos, videos and test samples of the drinking water from most areas of Susa, the Department of Health continues to deny any problems and maintains its frankly ludicrous claims that there is no contamination of the drinking water supply.

Residents of Susa, enraged by the dangerously contaminated and foul-tasting water supply, insist that they should not be expected to pay water bills, and have repeatedly demanded that local authorities take note of their suffering due to the contaminated water and the resulting, potentially life-threatening consequences to health.

Ahwazis believe that the Iranian regime is deliberately and systematically neglecting the infrastructure of Ahwazi communities while investing heavily in Persian provinces, further confirming its characteristic racism and discrimination against Ahwazi Arab peoples.

See the following image of the Ahwazi Arab women who are desperately looking for water in smelly and muddy lakes and ponds:

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