Thousands of Ahwazi Arab residents in Muhammarah city took to the streets on Friday (June 29) to protest against regime repression and corruption which have left many destitute, and to demand that the government supply potable drinking water, with the current brackish, brown-coloured water supply deemed unfit for human consumption.
Gathering in front of the city’s main mosque, the protesters chanted anti-government slogans, accusing regime officials of stealing the people’s money in the name of theocratic rule. Despite housing 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by the regime which should make the area’s people wealthy, the predominantly Arab region is one of the poorest in Iran, with widespread malnutrition and a steadily worsening health crisis caused by the massive unchecked pollution.
The protesters who gathered in Muhammarah on Thursday, attributed the steadily worsening conditions there and across the region to the rampant and blatant corruption at both local and national levels within the regime leadership, and to what some called the wholesale looting of public assets on a massive scale. Videos of the protests uploaded to several news websites showed the demonstrators chanting “In the name of religion these thieves are robbing us of our money.”
The Iranian regime claims Muhammarah is one of the resistance manifestations during the Iran-Iraq war. Every year, the regime celebrates liberating it from the Iraqi forces. But after the so-called liberation, the regime did not pay attention to the deteriorating conditions of the people of Muhammarah who bore the brunt of war. The city was destroyed. Muhammarah was once called the jewel of the Gulf.
More than three decades , the city is now suffering as it lacks the most basic needs for life including drinking water. Many ordinary people in the city, as well as representatives and local officials, complained, to the president and supreme leader, of the miserable situation in the city. But nothing was chanted on the ground. All the promises about meeting the demands of the people went down the drain. Things have worsened in the city, leading people to lose hope in seeing any positive change in their conditions. Therefore, they resorted to peaceful protests as a means to get their voices heard. They seek to pressure the authorities into solving the problems of their city. Brimming over with anger, Thousands of locals in the city took to the streets to denounce marginalization and poverty there. Protests are likely to continue and increase day after day until the demands of the people, including providing drinking water, are met.
Although regime media routinely encourage racism towards Arab and other minorities, with the regime actively, if unofficially, promoting division and hostility between Arab and ethnically Persian citizens as a part of its ‘divide-and-rule’ strategy a, a number of Persian residents also joined Thursday’s protests, expressing their own anger and dissatisfaction with the regime and its representatives in chants such as: “We don’t want these officials – they are incompetent.”
Abadan, a city adjacent to Muhammarah , witnessed similar protests a week ago, with residents calling on the regime to improve the living conditions there and provide safe drinking water to new areas of unplanned housing around the city which have grown in recent years as the population rises.
The protests in the Ahwaz region come as anti-regime demonstrations continue to swell across Iran, with public anger growing over the economic crisis and the regime’s increasingly oppressive rule.