June 28, 2017

UNPO’s XIII General Assembly Adopts Resolution on the Ahwazi

On 27 June 2017, a representative of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) presented its resolution to the UNPO General Assembly. Dr Karim Abdian shed considerable light on the gross human rights violations faced by the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, such as policies of land confiscation, ethnic cleansing and the man-made environmental disaster facing the region. The UNPO General Assembly adopted the resolution calling the Islamic Republic of Iran to recognise and respect the fundamental human rights of the Ahwazi-Arabs.

Ahwazi-Arabs: Land Confiscation and Ethnic Cleansing

Considering that Iranian society is dominated by only one of the national constituencies, the Persian national group, while the non-dominant, non-Persian national ethnic and religious groups, Arabs, Turks, Baloch, Kurds and Turkmen have not been accorded equal citizenship as their language, ethnicity and/or their religion are not being officially acknowledged.

While GA assembly takes note of that, this resolution addresses the situation of one of the above mentioned ethnic groups, the Ahwazi-Arab:

First GA express solidarity with the Ahwazi-Arab nation in their non-violent struggle for preservation of their environment and for democracy and social justice

GA Reiterates its previous resolutions of October 2006 in Taipei, Taiwan on ethnic cleansing, forced expulsion of Ahwazis from their land and exclusion from the oil wealth extracted from their ancestral land, however regrettably the Islamic Republic of Iran’s same discriminatory behavior has been continuing, and increasing.

GA is also alarmed and takes serious note of the implementation of the government-sanctioned ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi-Arabs, headed by former IRGC general Mohsen Rezai with an aim to reduce the Ahwazi-Arab pollution from 80% to a third of less -  within a period of ten years or less

GA notes the following manifestations of ethnic cleansing of Ahwazis:

On Education and Language Rights: 

The policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on the elimination of the national identity of Ahwazi-Arabs, as it sees Arabs as disloyal and may claim their land, that produces 90% of Iranian wealth.

Ahwazi Arabs are not being allowed to participate in running their own local affairs and their traditional territory is run as an occupied land as the governor general of Khuzestan (Arabistan or al-Ahwaz) and all other  political, military, and security commanders, officers, mayors of the province and high and mid-level government officials of Khuzestan have consistently been non-Arabs. This in turn exacerbates discrimination, exclusion and ethnic tensions.

Ahwazi-Arabs are subjected to aggressive Persian nationalism promoted by official and semi-official authorities in the Iranian educational curriculum and media – by propagating the notion of a so-called Iranian nationality, that is synonymous with being Persian, thus excluding Arabs and all other nationalities.

Banning of non-Persian languages corresponds to banning their literatures and cultures - inducing and creating unequal citizenry. Denying the rich character of multinational, multilingual and multicultural of Iranian society is a violation of the rights of all Iranians. The right to be different needs to be acknowledged.

Islamic Republic continues to change of names of cities, towns, provinces and names of rivers and geographical locations from the local Arab indigenous names to Persian names, in compliance with a larger campaign of ethnic cleansing and suppression of Ahwazi-Arab ethnicity and culture

Arrests and executions of Ahwaz human rights and cultural activists have increased by at least 20% during the presidency of Mr. Hassan

Ahwazi-Arab region produces up to 85 % of oil and gas of Iran, yet they live in abject poverty.

There are at least 81 petrochemicals, steel industries, agro-industrial complexes only 0.5 % of managerial positions are occupied by indigenous population and unemployment is 6 times the national average.

Any legitimate demands of the Ahwazi and other minorities are often labeled as “separatist” or “secessionist.” They are called “stooges of foreign countries” or a “danger to security and territorial integrity.”

On the destruction of the Marshes and Wetlands in Khuzestan (al-Ahwaz):

400,000 Hectare Hur -Alazim wetland in north-west of Ahwaz is Iran’s biggest wetland which has been on the Montreux record has-been dried out to extract oil at a lower cost. This has forced tens of thousands Ahwazi indigenous marsh Arabs to abandon their land where they made their living through farming and fishing causing wide spread poverty and forced migration of farmers from villages to the slums in the outskirts of Ahwaz and bigger cities.

More than 450,000 hectares of land owned by Ahwazi-Arab farmers have been confiscated since the 1979 Revolution and given to the government-sponsored cooperatives.

The lingering effects of the Iran-Iraq War are still pertinent today. Arab cities and towns destroyed during the war remain untouched or at best rebut by 20-30% - with landmines continuing to kill and maim Arab farmers and contamination from chemical weapons leading to high rates of birth deformities. 

On Air Pollution

According World Health organization (WHO) Ahwaz is one of the world most polluted cities in the world due to the highest count of small airborne particles out of 1,100 urban areas around the world, which cause respiratory diseases, lung cancer and asthma among many other diseases. 

The Iranian Ministry of Health had announced that every year about 80,000 people in Iran die due to environmental pollution, and that amounts to 21 percent of overall annual deaths in Iran.

Concentration of mass petrochemical industries together with wetland destruction which according to researchers is the reason for recurring dust storms resulted in immigration and misplacement of thousands of indigenous Arabs.

Recommendations:

1 - Endorse the call by the Secretary General of UNPO that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights publicly intervene in the destruction of the ecological and environmental habitats of indigenous Ahwazi-Arabs

2 - That the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutionally and publically acknowledges that Iran is a multinational state and the existence and the group rights of the non-Persian nationalities, including Ahwazi-Arab ethnic groups are equally protected.

3 - Respects and protect the social rights of all ethno-religious constituencies as stipulated in all UN and international human rights instruments.

4 - Encourage participation and non-discrimination and Implement constitutional articles 15 and 19 where non-Persian languages are allowed to study in their mother language in at least elementary schools.

5 - The rights of internal- self-determination are accepted and autonomy is granted to Arabs, Baloch, Kurds, Turks and Turkmen to run their own internal affairs.

6 - Non-Shia Islamic sect, such as Sunnis, Baha’i, and other religious to be recognized as state religion in addition to Shia Islam.

To take a look at the Ahwaz resolution, click here.

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