Jun 27, 2016

Discrimination of Minorities in Iran Worse Since Nuclear Deal

Last week, a delegation of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI), comprising representatives of Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Turks and Azerbaijanis, met with the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The two parties discussed the economic and political problems faced by these minorities in Iran and demanded that the US condemn human rights violations in order to pressure the Iranian government. According to Ahwazi activist Dr Karim Abdian, the human rights situation in Iran has worsened since the nuclear deal with the West was signed. 


Photo courtesy of Ahwaz News.

Below is an article published by Ahwaz News:

Ethnic rights in Iran gained a high level congressional audience this week as Ahwazi Arab lobbyist Dr Karim Abdian led a delegation of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI) in a meeting with Chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ed Royce in Washington.

The delegation, which consisted of representatives of Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Turks and Azerbaijanis, highlighted the economic and political problems facing cultural, ethnic and religious minorities and the dissatisfaction of these groups in Iran. They called on the US to recognise the plurality of nations in Iran as relations soften with the Islamic Republic.

Dr Abdian was joined by Balochi representative Dr. Mohammad Hasan Husseinbar and Arash Saleh, representative of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, who brought the views of their respective nationalities.

During an interview with Al-Arabiya, Dr. Abdian highlighted the deterioration of human rights situation in Iran and especially violations against ethnic and religious minorities and persecution of non-Persian nations.

He added: "As the United States and the West rebuild relations with Iran, it is necessary to discuss the human rights violations committed by the Iranian government and especially those related to ethnic groups."

Dr Abdian, who heads the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, stated: "There has been an escalation of human rights violations in Iran after the nuclear agreement."

He also criticised the Voice Of America (VOA) network and stated "this network carries out the same censorship policies that the Iranian government carries in regard to the coverage of violations against ethnic groups and their rights."

According to Abdian the Iranian regime's lobbies control the Persian-speaking VOA in Washington and the network deliberately avoids interviewing or inviting ethnic right activists oppositions, a network that is being funded by the American tax payers."

While Washington Post and Associated Press have highlighted the deteriorating situation facing Arab, Kurd and Balochi areas of Iran, VOA has failed to report ongoing grievances and events. VOA self-censorship has, in turn, led to frustration and anger towards the US.

Abdian stated "Although Ahwazi Arabs number five to seven million in the southwest of Iran, a region that produces up to 90 per cent of the country's wealth, yet people are living in the worst conditions of poverty.

He added: "Three Ahwazi Arab activists are to be executed very soon and the American government has to take a stand in this matter."

During the talks, Dr Husseinbar explained the situation of Baluchs in both Iran and Pakistan and demanded United States' condemnation of human rights violations committed by both governments.

Dr. Husseinbar proposed that the US launched daily VOA programmes in the Baluchi language and urged the US to allocate aid to health and education services in Baluchistan of Pakistan.

He said: "The American government should demand the Iranian and Pakistani governments stop the execution of activists in Balochistan and join the international coalition against enforced and involuntary disappearance."

Representing the Kurds, Arash Salehi referred to the recent clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Kurdish areas of Iran, where 21 members of government forces were recently killed.

The delegation requested that Ed Royce invite the representatives of non-Persian nations and ethnic and religious minorities to a plenary meeting in the US Congress in order to discuss the political situation and the poor human rights situation they face. Mr Royce pledged to discuss the matter with both Republican and Democrat congressmen.

Dr Abdian stressed the need to examine the internal situation in Iran and stated that the nuclear deal has not improved the conditions for the people of Iran, but rather made the human rights situation worst.