Ahwaz: Silence as a Cover for Repression
Following Mike Pompeo’s speech on 22 July  in which the Secretary of State of the US expressed his concerns about the restriction of basic freedoms and the arrest of hundreds of civilians in Ahwaz, an attempt by media VOA Persian to cover this explicit recognition makes evident that efforts are being made to avoid the Awhazi case to be under the spotlight. Subject to severe fundamental rights restrictions, harassment by state representatives and deprivation of natural resources, the Ahwazi Arabs of Iran remain the victims of intense assimilation policies implemented by the Iranian government.
This article was published by ahwazhumanrights.org:
The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (Ahro) opposed the deliberate omission of a phrase related to the suppression of the Ahwazi Arabs when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his speech and translated by VOA Persian.
Ahro states the Secretary of State concerned about the arrest of hundreds of Ahwazi Arabs. Sec Pompeo said: It’s why the regime arrests hundreds of Ahwazis, members of Iran’s minority Arab community, when they speak out to demand respect for their language and for their basic beliefs”.
The Persian interpreter of the VOA deliberately miss-interpreted the phrase of “Ahwazis” by saying that the Iranian regime arrested hundreds of “Azharis” due to their beliefs.
Ahro added if the translator assumed that he did not understand the word "Ahwazis" properly and translated "Azhari", how he did not hear the words “Iran’s minority Arab community” which was quoted by Minister Pompeo.
Furthermore, Ahro also wondered whether the translator’s action was deliberate or inadvertent? Why was the word "Ahwazis" distorted to "Azhari" and why was the entire phrase " Iran’s minority Arab community" deleted?
The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization reported to the US officials and asked for clarification. Moreover, other Persian-speaking American channels such as “Radio Farda” and others did not address the Pompeo’s concerns regarding Ahwazi Arabs, and Ahro believes that there is an old policy of marginalizing minorities voices in these channels."
Dr Karim Abdian, Director of Ahro, says Ahwazi Arab cause and other non-Persian nations of Iran were discussed with the US administration and their suffering and suppression presented to the world. Abdian added: "We in the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization and the Congress of Iranian nations and oppositions have gained remarkable achievements recently and conveyed the voice of Non-Persian nations and oppressed minorities in Iran to the administration of President Trump.
Abdian, also as the Supreme Advisor of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-ahwaz, said that the Farsi-speaker channels in America are under influence of "the Persian lobby in the US” and the Non-Persian nations sufferings are subjected to blackout of these channels. However, the new US administration has improved a lot with this regards, even though there is still media marginalisation like the deliberate omission of Ahwazi Arabs suffering during Pompeo’s speech translation.
Ahro said in its statement that it intensified its contacts during the last weeks and months and held frequent and ongoing meetings with the concerned parties in the administration, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the light of the popular protests of the Ahwazi Arabs and their violent suppression by the Iranian regime. There were hundreds of protesters have been arrested demanding the end of repression, poverty, marginalization and ethnic cleansing while their land provides more than 80% of oil and wealth in the country.
Ahro also added that the US Secretary of State's concern regarding "the suffering of the Ahwazi Arabs is appreciated and respected and should be well highlighted by the American media because it emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the values of defending human and minority rights, rather than manipulating translation."
Ahro called the VOA Persian and Broadcasting Board of Governors in the United States to clarify their attitude and correct the mistake of the interpreter so that the voice of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran would not be concealed in the official American democratic media, as Iranian national media, which is subject to the its government’s policies.
Picture courtesy of flickr.com