Human rights activists have posted heartbreaking footage of an Ahwazi Arab family pleading desperately and fruitlessly with Iranian regime municipality officials not to destroy their home and leave them destitute, imploring the regime personnel to realise that this would destroy their children’ future.Despite their heart-rending pleas, the municipality officials continued, bulldozing the small home in the city of Maashour (also known as Mahshahr in Farsi) which housed not only the parents and their children but the children’s paternal grandmother who lived with them.
Nasser Ahmad Zadegan, the son of a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, who lived in the home in a poverty-stricken area of the city with his wife, their two young children, and his elderly mother, explained that the family were given no warning of or reason for the demolition and were allowed no time to remove their few possessions before their pitiful home was razed. He said that the municipality officials lacked any faith or mercy, adding that the home was the only shelter he could provide to protect his family from the freezing cold winters and searing hot summers; summer temperatures in Ahwaz regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).
Zadegan said that his father, who volunteered to fight for Iran in the 1980-88 war with Iraq, had fought to defend Iran’s southern cities and been left permanently disabled in an Iraqi poison gas attack during the conflict. Despite his father’s sacrifice, he said, Iranian regime officials (who provide generous pensions and assistance to the families of ethnically Persian military veterans) had ignored his repeated pleas to provide him with suitable work at one of the 22 petrochemical plants in and around the city so that he could make a decent living and afford to house and feed his family. Instead, he said, the regime had instead chartered flights to bring in thousands of non-Arab workers from outside the province, providing them with nice homes in specially built settlements, jobs with a good salary and other bonuses. While his family and other indigenous Arab people are left to starve in poverty, he said, many of these incomers from other areas of Iran had become prosperous, with nice homes and in some cases become extremely wealthy as a result of this favouritism by the regime.
Talking about the demolition of his family’s home, he said, “The officials were watching my wife screaming in agony and begging them to stop demolishing our home, but they didn’t take any notice of her calls, nor consider our children’s destiny during this winter, they just said ‘We’re doing what we were told to do.’”
These home demolitions are not rare but an everyday occurrence for Ahwazi families, who have no legal recourse to any action against the regime for these flagrant abuses of international law. The regime offers no notice, no chance to challenge the decision, and no compensation; whilst presenting itself, with no apparent sense of shame, as the leader of an ‘Axis of Resistance’ supposedly fighting for justice for Palestinians, the Iranian regime commits the same crimes and injustices against the indigenous Ahwazi people and shows the same openly contemptuous anti-Arab racism and supremacism to its victims. Unlike Palestinians who can at least receive some international support, Ahwazi Arabs are prohibited by the regime from campaigning or raising awareness of their suffering, a double persecution that not only subjects them to vicious institutionalised racism and injustice but silences any effort to raise awareness of its existence. from Many Ahwazis feel that, for all the regime’s empty rhetoric about revolution and fairness, the regime is simply a carbon copy of Israel or apartheid South Africa, crushing the indigenous people underfoot and treating them as subhuman due to their ethnicity.