Since the Islamic Republic Regime’s rise to power, the mullahs’ regime has
enforced ethnocide policies against Ahwazi Arab nation and other non-Persian nations. In fact, the threat of forced displacement, deportation or execution against the Ahwazis, Kurds, Turks, Baluchs and Turkmens was permanent.
For years and until today, the lack of reaction of the international community concerning the state of human rights in Ahwaz region and other non-Persian regions in the integrity that is called the prison of occupied nations which was built on fire ,blood, international conspiracies , has given Iranian regime and his clique a right of life and death over entire communities.
From 1925, the ousted Pahlavi monarchy and current the Islamic Republic Regime both carry a deep historical hatred against the Arab nation. They have continued their policy of Persianization and ethnic cleansing in Ahwazi regions. Tens of thousands of Ahwazis were displaced, mainly in the regions of Mohammara, Abadan and Shosh and shoshter. Without exaggeration, a close link can be established between the rise to power of the Islamic republic regime in 1979 and the forced displacements, deportations and migratory waves of Ahwazi Arabs.
It seems that the Iranian regime has failed to obliterate the identity of non-Persian people within its totalitarian policy. The ongoing mass execution, the massive impoverishment, cultural dispossession and the denial of all fundamental civil, cultural, human, and political rights seem insufficient to eliminate the will of non-Persian people. Therefore, the regime has adopted a systematic vicious policy for the entire non-Persian regions that is called anti- Socio-environmental agenda that has systematic demographics/ethnic roots. For example, Lake Uremia in South Azerbaijan, which is the largest lake in the Middle East and the second largest salt-water lake on earth, faces the risk of drying out. Many environmental sciences warned that disappearance of the Lake Uremia would result in severe salt storms.
It has been estimated that six to eight cities will be destroyed, covered by layers and layers of salt. At least 10 million people have to be displaced to avoid the storm of salt within that region. Most of the population will be forced to flee their homeland and will have no choice but to immigrate to other regions of Iran.
People of Baluchistan also have not survived from the mass displacement scheme following the drying of Hamun Lake many local people had to abandon their homeland to rescue their lives from the drought, dust storms, and epidemic disease that allegedly claimed the lives of many Baluchis. The Iranian regime has not taken any concrete measures to revive Hamun Lake in Sistan-Baluchestan and to revitalize the regions’ agriculture, which is heavily dependent on the water. As a result, Hamun Lake dried up, leading to the death of fauna and flora in the area of Sistan-Baluchistan.
Displacement, air-pollution, Water shortages and crop-failure in Ahwaz
Forced migration and land confiscation
Despite Iran constitution and signature of ICCPR, there is strong evidence that Iranian authorities are orchestrating a systematic and ultranationalist policy of land confiscation and forced migration that are in line with the ethnic reconstructing program outlined in top confidential letter written by Sayed Mohammad-Ali Abtahi when he served as Iran vice president. The Abtahi letter leaked to the international media in 2005, promoting April intifada in Ahwaz that led to an unprecedented popular uprising, which engulfed the entire Ahwaz region and more than 100 people killed by the security forces. The letter was written in 1999, suggests a time-frame of 10 years to accomplish the ethnic restructuring programme. Iranian authorities are encouraging forced migration of Ahwazi Arabs out of Ahwaz and their replacement with loyal ethnic group, particularly ethnic Persian, constructing separation walls to segregate indigenous Arabs from non-indigenous settlers and the privileged migrants.
Ethnically exclusive settlements such as Shirinshahr and Ramin have been built in recent years to house Persians from Yazd and Fars provinces that have been brought into the area to take up jobs denied to Arabs.
The regime is encouraging ethnic Persian to settle on the land confiscated from Ahwazi Arabs farmers by placing advertisements in Farsi-speaking provinces and cities, which promise cheap fully furnished apartments with all amenities.
In fact, since the military occupation of Alahwaz, the Iranian regime deliberately began to implement their malicious agenda in constructing exclusive settlements to bring Persian settlers to Ahwazian lands to change demography of Ahwaz.
Moreover, they are trying systematically to rise up poverty and unemployment rate between Ahwazian Arab people while the Persian settlers enjoy top priority in achieving employment opportunities.
More 12,000 hectares of Ahwazi farmland north of Shush and shoshter have been taken to resettle the faithful non- indigenous Persian, according to directives by the ministry of Agriculture and the Revolutionary crop command.
In the recent years, the Iranian officials brought many of Persian settlers to this region by building various settlements for Persians settlers. These persianization policies have forced Ahwazi Arabs into poor shanty towns around the city.
The confiscation measures of Shush and Shoshter arable lands are carried out directly by the department of Natural Resources of the Iranian regime.
The department of Natural Resources and the Mehr Housing institute are cooperating directly to usurp the Ahwazi lands and when their project face with popular resistance from local people, the security forces will intervene quickly to arrested and even kill unarmed people with live bullets. In relation to Ahwaz the regime has been cruel on everything both human and environment and always confronts the legitimate demands of Ahwazi people with fire, shipments of tear gas and excessive military force.
The regime authorities normally confiscate the Ahwazian lands under the pretext that such a lands are considered a conservational zone and must be protected from being destroyed or spoiled. However, the real story on the ground is different. They usurp the farmer’s lands just to construct settlements to bring Persian settlers to Ahwazi lands to change the demographic of Ahwazi Arab populations and making them a minority in comparison with the Persian settlers. The objective of the land confiscation and settlement programmes is to prevent unrest among Ahwazi Arabs from destabilizing this strategic oil-producing region.
Waves of emigration of Ahwazis to neighboring countries
The Iranian regime crackdown against the Ahwazi civilians has forced thousands of Ahwazis seek refugees in Iraq and Turkey. From April 2005 until now, more than 2000 Ahwazis had sought refugees in European countries.
Most recently, Australia saw unusual phenomenon; waves of illegal Ahwazi immigrants landed in Australia. They fled Ahwaz due to non-stop oppression, poverty, growing financial crisis and high unemployment and the air pollution of Ahwaz.
Although Ahwaz has huge water resources, (about 33% of Iran’s total), the region is suffering from a serious water crisis. The water crisis has caused by ecological mismanagements of Karoon River; the largest river flow through Ahwazi lands .since 1979, Iranian revolution, the karoon has faced more than 400 incidents of serious contamination. Beside the policy of land confiscation, a parallel policy against Ahwazis is being practiced that is diverting water of main river course in Ahwaz such as Karoon, Al-karkha, and Al-Jarrahi and pumping it to central Persian areas such as Isfahan, Yazd and Kareman for the purpose of irrigation. This happens while they deprive the Arab farmers of utilizing this water and make their struggle for survival very difficult and very frustrating. Periodically they fabricate flood via their dams that are known as Arab killer Dams that have been constructed for this purpose in order to demolish the infrastructure of Ahwazi Arab villages and their fertile lands to restrict their brutal circle force on Ahwazi Arabs farmers to abandon their lands and look for other alternatives for make living. They consequently facilitate the displacement of Arab people and confiscations of their arable lands and demolition of Arabian villages and the countryside of Ahwaz.
Sugar cane plantations, which were established after the Iranian regime confiscated thousands of hectares of Ahwazi Arab formers lands forcibly, place heavy demands on water supplies. Furthermore, all the sewerage is dumped untreated into the main River Karoon which supplies all Ahwaz city water. As a result, water becomes contaminated and undrinkable.
In the recent years, up to 60% of Ahwazi land experienced the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since the regime began its scheme of water diversion. It is estimated that one and half millions of people who are mostly dependent on agriculture in the countryside, particularly in Howeyzeh, Mohammara, Falahya, Omidyah and Romhormoz and khalafiyeh had driven into extreme poverty.
This has led to a massive exodus of farmers and agriculturally dependent rural families from the countryside to cities. This problem has compounded by the continued exploitation and neglect of Ahwazi natural resources, which has contributed to water shortages and land desertification.
The massive internal displacement from rural to urban centers and significant discontent among Agriculture-dependent communities are the main factors of social and political unrest in Ahwaz region.
In terms of suffocating air pollution, Ahwaz outstrips Beijing and Delhi by a long stretch, according to the latest findings of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Ahwaz City’s measure of air-born particulate matter (PM10) is 372 ug/m3, which is a third more than the world’s second-most polluted city, Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar and the only city in the world where average PM10 levels rise above 300 ug/m3.
In this new study, WHO says Ahwaz has the highest measured level of airborne particles small enough to cause serious health problems in humans.
The astonishing level of air pollution has taken its toll on the local population, which mostly belongs to the persecuted Ahwazi Arab ethnic group.
Life expectancy is the lowest in Ahwaz and residents suffer high levels of respiratory problems , cancer and many other rampant diseases . some cities in Ahwaz such as falahya (also known as Shadegan)and Khafajia (also known as Sosangerd) people are suffering from unusually high rate of skin ,heart ,and kidney diseases due to the continued storage and uses of chemical, biological and other related polluted materials remaining from Iran_ Iraq war and the government has not taken any action to remediate the situation and in Ahwaz the state hospitals are unhealthy and ill-equipped with insufficient numbers of doctors and medicines that lead to make the death rate unacceptably high.
The Iranian regime has sought to blame its arch-enemy the United States for the pollution, claiming that the toxic dust is the result of the use of depleted uranium bombs that were dropped during the Iraq War. However, nearby Kuwait City and Bushehr have PM10 levels far below Ahwaz City and none of the respiratory illnesses suffered by the inhabitants of the Al-Ahwaz region. Ahwaz City has by far the worst track-record in the Arabian Gulf.
Contributing factors include desertification caused by river diversion and the draining of the marshes and the oil, petrochemical, metals and sugar and paper processing plants in and around Ahwaz
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has officially warned the Iranian Environment Association that the southwest of Iran is facing a situation similar to the environmental catastrophes that have affected the Aral Sea in Central Asia and the Amazon jungle. The region contains extensive marshes and rivers that support endangered species of fish as well as migratory birds. Ahwazi farmers and fishermen also depend on the waters for their livelihoods.
Great controversy surrounds the river diversion programme. The government’s plans, already under development, seek to siphon off 1.1bn cubic meters of water from the province’s main rivers to central Iran. This is destroying the marshlands like Horelazim, which serve as an important habitat for wildlife, as well as helping to regulate humidity and rainfall further inland. Agriculture felt the worst of the effects of river diversion in 2012, which worsened the effects of drought. Ecological and environmental values of the Horelazim and falahya marshlands are unique that the drying of these marshlands in Ahwaz and Iraq has increased the incidence of fatal dust storms in the region.
But, wildlife and human health are being punished the most, with some species of birds and mammals facing extinction in the region and Ahwazi Arabs suffering neurological, respiratory and birth disorders as well as high levels of cancer.
Like all problems in Iran, the solution is political. Without regime change that empowers the local population in how economic development progresses, the government will continue to plunder and rape Al-Ahwaz while the indigenous inhabitants, wildlife and natural beauty will pay the ultimate price.
It is certainly obvious that the Iranian regime is intentionally ignoring the drying of marshlands and rivers to achieve its geopolitical goals. Under this hypothesis, the regime is using the deliberate neglect of Karoon River and marshlands to facilitate the migration, displacement and ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arab in Iran. Such tactics have been utilized in many places across the globe in the past, e.g., in Czechoslovakia.
By: Rahim Hamid
Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights