The Iranian regime has announced that it has resettled 10,500 Persian families from the nomadic ‘Lor’
peoples in ‘Persian-only’ settlements in al-Ahwaz region (known as ‘Khuzestan province’), part of its project to change the demographic composition of the region’s population in its efforts to eradicate Arab culture and influence.
On Monday June 15, 2015, the Iranian official news agency IRNA quoted the director of its Tribal Affairs ministry in Khuzestan (the Persian name for part of al-Ahwaz), Ali Rahim Karimi, as stating that the project to resettle the nomadic tribes people began in 2014 with a fiscal budget estimated at 100 Iranian billion riyals. The first stage of the project has already been implemented with the construction of new settlements in a 2,000-hectare area to the west of the Karkheh River in the region. These settlements are ethnically homogenous; with Ahwazi people denied the right to live there due to their Arab ethnicity.
Karimi further explained that the second phase of the resettlement project is currently underway in a 200,000-hectare area in the Shoaybiyeh Rural District of Shushter County, north of the city of al-Ahwaz, with the government in Tehran allocating a budget of 90 billion riyals to this phase.
The Iranian official added that the government is going to grant the nomadic migrants fertile agricultural lands in the region since their customary trade in livestock is not enough to secure their livelihoods.
Iranian authorities have been encouraging the nomadic tribes to immigrate from their Persian provinces located on the other side of and among the Zagros Mountains and resettle in Ahwazi territories, offering them full support and funding to do so as part of a strategy to change the demographic composition of the Arab region and further marginalize the already brutally oppressed Ahwazi peoples.
The land in the region granted to Persian settlers for the state-built settlements and state-subsidised agriculture is forcibly confiscated from the indigenous Ahwazi peoples, with the settlers also offered other inducements including jobs which are denied to Ahwazis; unemployment among the Ahwazis is endemic, with the people denied even the most basic rights as part of an anti-Arab policy which predates the current regime but has been enthusiastically adopted and strengthened by it since the 1979 revolution.
The mass protests erupted by Ahwazi Arab citizens because of the confiscation of land and resettlement political and demographic change and bringing Persian immigrants but met with excessive repression by security and police forces and the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
By: Rahim Hamid
Ahwazi Centre for Human Right