An MP from the Arab Ahwaz region of Iran confirmed in a recent Iranian state media report that the regime is deliberately draining the globally renowned Hor al-Azim wetlands to drill for oil, displacing the indigenous Arab people living nearby who have fished its waters for generations, despite the regime’s claims to wish to stabilise the region.
In the interview published on the Iranian regime’s official ‘Tasnim News’ website on Thursday, April 27, Qassim Saadi, the MP for the regional city of Khafajiyeh, said, “By drying out the Great Hor, the livelihood and economic activities of citizens and residents in these areas will end. The Great Hor is in real danger from the companies drilling for oil there, as well as from the Ministry of Energy, which has so far drained thousands of hectares there. The Great Hor is in critical need of attention, and the lives of the citizens.
The MP continued, “The oil exploration companies have drained and washed away thousands of hectares of soil; they, along with other companies, such as sugar cane [refineries] and others pour out waste containing toxins into the wetlands, so that citizens who live in the heart of the wetlands area suffer from terrible economic problems. Some of those who have remained in the marshlands can no longer afford to live there, and they will have to migrate from their villages in the future.”
Condemning the current administration’s mutually contradictory claims and actions, Saadi said, “One of the policies of the current government is that it claims it aims to prevent the migration of people and to ensure they have stability in their villages. How can this be done while the government companies are fighting against the people [to deprive them of] their lives and sources of livelihood?”
The MP said that “three oil fields have been established in the heart of the wetlands area – the Azadegan, Sohrab 1 and Sohrab 2 fields – adding that the oil ministry has unfortunately coordinated with the power ministry in these projects, damming regional rivers further upstream to cut off the waters feeding the wetlands, drying out thousands of square kilometres of previously verdant marshes, leading to mass desertification”.
“Environmental activists say that the cause of the migration of citizens [from the area] is the oil companies and those companies’ activities,” the MP stated, adding that, “as well as having a devastating effect on the indigenous people, the oil companies’ activities are also leading to the mass destruction of many species of fish and birds which made their home in the wetlands”.
“These environmental protectionists say the cause of the migration of citizens is the oil companies and what other companies are doing, And the destruction of many species of fish and birds that are the source of livelihood of citizens living in the marshes”.