Ahwazi Arab people have staged massive protests in front of the headquarters of the Iranian regime’s regional governor in Khuzestan (the Persian name for the colonised province) against what they said are the rigged results of recent local elections.
The indigenous Arab people of the region, which was originally annexed by Iran with British assistance in 1925, assert that the Tehran regime openly rigged the elections to appoint deeply unpopular ethnically Persian representatives imported by the regime in place of the local Arab candidates.The candidates are demanding a recount overseen by international observers, with prominent political figures and human rights activists in the region supporting the calls to investigate the regime’s corrupt practices.The Persian candidates imposed by the regime, whose win is viewed with great scepticism by the Ahwazi voters, were nominated by the Iranian regime’s infamous Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); foremost among these officials is General Mohsen Rezaei, a former IRGC head famous in the region for his virulent racism towards the Arab population and Arabs generally.The protests have been supported by leading Ahwazi figures and dissidents, who lauded the peaceful demonstrations, which they said would expose the regime figures involved in the blatant rigging of the election and in issuing the fraudulent results.
There were also reports of skirmishes inside the centre used for the vote-counting between IRGC-appointed observers sent to support the “victory” of their chosen candidates and a few brave independent observers who opposed the vote-rigging and had worked tirelessly to encourage sceptical Ahwazi voters, who expected the election to be rigged as always, to participate in the elections, in order to support Ahwazi candidates who could challenge the regime’s injustices and profound racism. The Ahwazi candidates faced relentless intimidation and threats from regime-sponsored candidates and their IRGC backers while campaigning, particularly from the Persian settlers in Ahwaz who live in ethnically homogenous settlements built especially for them by the regime, which are provided with all the modern amenities denied to the indigenous Arab people.
Despite the orchestrated campaign of intimidation against them, the Ahwazi candidates united to form a single ‘Great AL Ahwaz’ bloc to ensure that Ahwazi voters weren’t confronted with a multiplicity of candidates representing them, which could weaken the overall vote distribution and giving the regime’s candidates a better chance to argue that they had fairly won – although the idea that Ahwazis would vote for their oppressors is rather like the notion of Palestinians in Gaza voting for the Israeli Likud Party.
A source from inside the ballot-counting unit reported that the blatant fraud was perpetrated on a massive scale, with the IRGC conducting barefaced mass forgery of voter ballot papers and the actual ballot papers being destroyed. Although the people are used to such corruption, the magnitude of the cheating and the announcement of victories by pro-regime candidates loathed by the indigenous Ahwazi people pushed the long-suffering Ahwazi people beyond the level of endurance.
Amongst the wholly implausible results announced by the regime, one of the IRGC-appointed candidate supposedly won the majority in the poverty-stricken almost exclusively Ahwazi Mallashiyeh neighbourhood of Ahwaz city despite he hasing received no more than ten votes.Tensions amongst the Ahwazi people in the region over the farcical election results are continuing to rise, with regime officials so far refusing to respond to public anger. Although one staff member at the governor’s office acknowledged off the record that the elections were very obviously rigged, there has been no official admission or statement from regime authorities.
Ahwazi representatives have now issued an appeal to the recently re-elected President Rouhani, asking him, as a candidate who claims to support Iran’s minorities and to advocate equality and justice for all, to intervene and cancel the election results, and to order a new, non-corrupt election for the area.