AHWAZI ARAB’S POVERTY AND MARGINALISATION UNDER IRANIAN REGIME

Posted on : 30th November -0001
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Posted by : lon don
  
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The entire territory of Ahwaz, covering 324,000 square kilometres, is bounded to the west by Iraq, to the south-west by the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula and to the north, east and south-east by the Zagros Mountains, the natural boundary between Ahwaz and Iran. Alahwaz is among the most resource-rich territories occupied by Iran, holding more than 80 percent of the country’s oil and gas resources. Ahwazi Arabs are among the most brutally oppressed peoples in the Middle East. The population of the region in the south and southwest of Iran totals around 8 million, with the people united by race, culture and language. The Ahwazi Arab dialect strongly resembles the dialect in neighbouring Iraq. The majority of Ahwazis are Shia and Sunni Muslim, although there are other sects and creeds, including Christian and Mandaean. Alahwaz is an Arab region located in the north and the east of the Arabian Gulf to the east of Shat Al-Arab waterway which has been occupied by Iran for more than nine decades and renamed ‘Khuzestan.’ The region has three major rivers, the Karoon, Jarrahi and Karkheh, which play a vital role in the lives of its people, with most Ahwazis long economically dependent on the three waterways for their income from both fishing and agriculture, with the waters used to irrigate the rich arable land. Since the initial annexation of Ahwaz by Iran, then known as Persia, 90 years ago, the humanitarian situation of the Ahwazi Arab people has steadily worsened, with the level of murderous repression by the current regime rising daily, extending to the level of systemic ethnic cleansing as policy, forcible eviction of the Ahwazi indigenous people, and the construction of exclusive apartheid-style settlements for non- Ahwazi, non-Arab settlers; these settlers are offered multiple economic and social incentives to move there and given guarantees of a promising future, while the Ahwazi Arab indigenous peoples are further marginalised, alienated and denied the most basic rights in every field. Historically the catastrophic suffering of the Ahwazi people first began after Reza Khan, the then-ruler of Persia, now called Iran, and invaded the Emirate of Al-Ahwaz in 1925, overthrowing the last independent Arab ruler of the region, Sheikh Khazaal Alkaabi, who was subsequently imprisoned in Tehran for 10 years before being murdered in 1936 by strangulation on the orders of Reza Khan. The current theocratic Iranian regime has imposed authoritarian rule on Al-Ahwaz region by the harshest measures, in a bid to isolate the Ahwazi Arab people from their origins and their historical association with the Arab nations, simultaneously imposing an absolute media blackout on any reporting of the suffering of Ahwazis. No more than 60% of the inhabitants have access to safe drinking water, even though there are five rivers in the region. Dams have been constructed in Ahwaz, diverting water to other, ethnically Persian provinces such as Isfahan and the province’s marshes and wetlands have been drained, destroying the ecosystem. This has had a devastating effect on the region’s farmers and fisherman. As well as direct forced relocation and displacement, the regime also pursues other abusive policies against the Ahwazi people and their lands, which have a devastating effect. These policies include the ‘giant dams’ project in which the main rivers in the Ahwaz region, such as the Karoon, which provide the people with not just domestic water supplies but water for irrigation of crops, are being redirected through the construction of vast dams in order to pipe the water to central Persian provinces of Iran, particularly Isfahan. The region’s poverty stands in contrast to its natural wealth. 98% of Iran’s oil resources and 100% of its natural gas come from the area. If it were an independent state, the occupied Al- Ahwaz would be the world’s third-largest producer of oil. However Iran’s discriminatory policies have turned it into a hell on earth where the Ahwazi indigenous inhabitants are continuously terrorised, watching their land being stolen from them, their resources taken away, and their children being deprived of their education and ethnic identity.

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