Jun 25, 2014

Ahwazi: Rouhani’s Senior Adviser Encourages Land Confiscation And Resettlement

During a show broadcasted on Iranian national TV, Mr. Akbar Turkan, a senior advisor to President Rouhani, stated that “every single Iranian must have a small piece of land in Mohammarrah (Khoramshahr) or Abadan: these cities are filled with palm groves, and I demand these groves be turned into small, couple-of-thousand square meter gardens, and be sold to Iranians who are from other provinces, so that they can visit their garden once or twice a year“.

Land confiscation and resettling of Persians to minority regions are, and always have been, part of the Iranian government’s oppressive policies towards the country’s Arab minority, but never before in the history of modern Iran has a senior government official admitted this openly on TV. This comment was so outrageous that even the host of the program asked how the locals would benefit from this plan, whereby Mr. Turkan replied that locals could work as gardeners and caretakers of these gardens. To the subsequent question of whether that would not turn the locals into janitors of investors from other cities, Turkan gave an interesting answer: “Some of these people already work on theses palm groves without these belonging to them.”  

The cities of Mohammarrah and Abadan, despite being rich in oil and gas, still face serious problems in terms of poverty, unemployment and even access to potable water – a consequence of which the majority of the local population, who is predominantly Arab, suffer from kidney problems and respiratory diseases caused by the polluted water consumed and chemical spills from oil refineries. While these two cities were torn in pieces during the eight year Iraq-Iran war, 25 years later roads and building have still not been reconstructed, thus giving the cities the look of a war scene.  Not even one percent of the oil revenues stemming from the province has been allocated to the rebuilding of these cities.

In this context,  would it not make more sense to find a solution to the suffering of locals instead of trying to make them sell their lands to people from other provinces who only would visit once a year? Could Mr. Turkan not recommend a plan which would support local farmers by ensuring they have a stable income all year around, instead of recommending turning the groves to small pieces of gardens. Why is Mr. Turkan so confident that locals would sell their land, their only income, to become mere janitors of the lands they once owned? He even stated some of these locals are already working on lands that are not theirs - but to whom do these lands then belong? The Iranian government? To be more specific, the National Guard of Islamic Revolution? Why is he insisting that every single Iranian buys a piece of land even if it is only a couple of thousand square meters? Two of the most polluted cities in Iran, in which the temperature rises up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, will never be a good place to spend the vacation.

Looking at the average income of an Iranian family, I do not think any Iranian family has the financial capacity to buy a piece of land in another province and make it their personal garden.  Does this conclusion not show that this is nothing but another plan by the Iranian government to confiscate the lands of indigenous Arabs, stripping the region from its local identity by pouring in people from other ethnicities to the Ahwaz region?