Protests are the Ahwazis’ last resort as grievances deepen

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25 Sep 2018

Ahwaz is a land where war between Iran and Iraq took place and ended more than 30 years ago. However, the face of war-torn cities is still present especially in Mohammarah city where the right to development has been denied to local Arabs. This comes despite the fact that the area contains huge resources of oil, gas and water. People in Ahwaz are suffering from deprivation in all aspect of life. Yet the resources located beneath and above land are used discriminatorily to benefit mainly the central cities in Iran.

The violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms in Ahwaz are so enormous that this territory witnessed more than 900 separated protests in 2017 alone. Ahwazi people have demonstrated against the transfer of upstream water from Karun, Karkh and Dez rivers to central provinces in Iran. they also protested against the shortages of downstream water in these rivers for human consumption, sanitation, [1] agricultural use and irrigation of palm trees and buffalos.

In addition, the environmental crisis and air pollution, which can be regarded as uniquely devastating phenomena in the world, have contributed to worsening the situation in Ahwaz. An independent observer will not necessarily be required to visit Ahwaz to determine the acuteness of the crisis but only to monitor the Iranian news agencies and see pictures and video footages circulated in the internet.

The increase in the number of workers who have not been paid salaries for months also leads to numerous demonstrations. Also, there has been the ‘Uprising of Dignity’ in Ahwaz. It broke out due to the incitement against and humiliation of Arabs by the Iranian national TV. However, the deliberate denying of the existence of Arabs in Ahwaz has long history in both the previous monarchy regime and the current authoritarian Islamic Republic government. Arabs have protested against such policy on many occasions. They have reaffirmed the love for Arabic identity and culture and have displayed unity to preserve and promote their culture and their common destiny. [2]

Ahwaz is described as the airplane of Iran that provides services to the whole country. Yet it has not been receiving the necessary services that are badly needed. [3] Consequently, Ahwazis as the owners of this wealthy land suffer from lack of proper and basic services and facilities in health, education, housing and water and sanitation. They are denied economic, social and cultural rights. They are also banned from the right to development and the right to equal distribution of wealth and opportunities in Ahwaz.

These are examples of the violations of rights under various international treaties that Iran has ratified and promised to promote and protect regardless of the variations in race, colour, religion, sex and other bases among all citizens.

References

[1] Al Arabiya English, ‘Protests over water shortages get revived in Iran’ (9 July 2018) <https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/07/09/Protests-over-water-shortages-revive-in-Iran.html> accessed 16 September 2018.

[2] Rahim Hamid, ‘Ahwazi Intifada: March against racism continues spreading’ (Ahwaz Monitor, 31 March 2018) <http://www.ahwazmonitor.info/new/ahwazi-intifada-march-against-racism-continues-spreading/> accessed 16 September 2018.

[3] Gholamreza Sharifi, Govenor of Ahwaz, ‘It is natural that large numbers of the protests happen in Khuzestan’ (Tabnak, 11 September 2018) <http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/832724/طبیعیاستکهحجمبزرگیازاعتراضاتدرخوزستانرقمبخوردخوزستانمثلهواپیمابهکشورخدماتارائهمی%E2%80%8Cدهدامابهقدرپیکانخدمتمی%E2%80%8Cگیرد> accessed 16 September 2018.

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