Understanding the Iranian occupation of Al Ahwaz and the struggles of these oppressed people
Written by Rahim Hamid
There is an occupation going on that most of the world is unaware of. These people are oppressed by an occupier. Their lives are in constant danger, and they risk being extinct if their situation continues to be ignored.
The fallout from the First World War started many changes across the Middle East during that time and in the following years. Some of these changes included the creation of numerous countries.
A new nation formed from the discovery of oil and gas across this region. The breakdown of the Ottoman Empire led to the Iranian leaders at the time. The British supported the annexation of the independent Arab nation Ahwaz in 1925. The results of this tragedy continue today.
Ahwaz was later renamed Khuzestan by the Iranian Shah in 1936. Amir Khazaal Al-Kaabi, the last ruler of Ahwaz during Iran’s 1925 invasion, was brutally betrayed by the British Empire, which had pledged its support to protect the Ahwazi Arab nation from imminent Persian invasion and occupation. The British vowed to provide military assistance for Ahwazi forces. In an act of depressingly familiar treachery, the British decided that their political interests would be better served by siding with Iran’s rulers, disregarding their treaties with Amir Khazaal and backing Iran’s military occupation of Ahwaz.
For the 90 years since that savage invasion, countless Ahwazi men and women have fought and sacrificed their lives for the goal of Ahwazi liberation. The rule of successive brutal and deeply racist Iranian regimes, with the current clerical regime in Tehran being only the latest of these. The greater the oppression the Ahwazi people encounter, the greater their determination to fight by every means possible for freedom, dignity and independence for Ahwaz.
Ahwazi Arabs, who number more than 10 million, live in extreme poverty and have been suffering from racist Iranian state practices of subjecting them to an apartheid-like segregation since 1925. Just like most oppressed people in their own land, they have suffered due to the wealth of the resources of their land that are desired by those who rule over them. Fifteen percent of the world’s oil reserves are located in this area, as well as it being the second in importance for natural gas.
Iran denies the existence of Ahwazi Arabs by calling them “Khuzestani Arabic speakers” aiming to eliminate the Arabic identity. The Ahwazi Arabs are subjected to multiple counts of discrimination. They have been denied education in their mother tongue, denied access to media, are subjected to strict employment criteria to exclude them, which is coupled with land confiscation. There is also a cultural genocide in force, as they are punished for practicing their social and cultural activities, their native clothing is banned, and use of their own language is heavily suppressed. Ahwazi people are fighting for their stolen rights and their own ancestral lands, they have no national rights and no political status, and they are denied the basic right to be thoroughly educated in Arabic. They are randomly murdered and arrested. Apparently, their lives have no value in the eyes of the Persian state that considers the Persians the only people with legitimate rights.
Persians in power want to preserve their own dominance in state which was built by bloodshed and through the occupation of our nations, and one of the traits of this power is its insistence on the racial supremacy of Persians but in regards to the oppressed populations of the occupied lands of Al-Ahwaz, the Kurds and Turks and Baluchis it is a prohibited taboo for them to so much as seek autonomy. The imposition of the Persian language is simply accepted as an undisputed fact that raises no outcry, but the language of Ahwazi Arabs and other ethnic groups are not to have a single school where they can be educated in their mother language. It is very difficult, and in many cases impossible to be integrated into the Persian society, as it harbors deep-rooted racism and against these groups, which extends to racism against Arabs as a Whole.
Since the popular uprising broke out in Al-Ahwaz in 2005, the Iranian regime began to conduct a systematic liquidation of Ahwazi prisoners by sentencing to death many Ahwazi public figures. Many activists are being arrested on trumped-up charges or are tortured until they confess to crimes. These confessions are used as evidence in the grossly unfair trials they are subjected to. Forced confessions are condemned by human rights organizations around the world, and yet, they are the praxis for obtaining the State’s “right” to execute those it detains and accuses of crimes. Evidence of crimes is not important, as long as a trial can present a confession of a peaceful resistor to the Iranian authorities, without stating how these confessions have been obtained.
There is ample evidence that many trials of those Ahwazi victims who were sentenced to death failed to meet the international standards for fair trials, including the use of these “confessions” obtained under torture or other ill-treatment which is provided as evidence against the defendants.
Some Iranian television stations like Press TV continue to broadcast self-incriminating testimonies of Ahwazi detainees even before the opening of a trial, undermining the fundamental right of defendants to be considered innocent until proven guilty and influencing public opinion, as well as making them accept more easily the idea put forth by the State-run media of Ahwazi’s committing serious crimes and being “justly” punished by the State.
In recent months, the Iranian judicial system has been weaving the rope of execution for dozens of Ahwazi civil, cultural and political activists of Hamidieh city from Ahwaz. They have been sentenced to death and charged with militant activities.
In reality, they were sentenced to death after clumsy and unjust trials, having been accused of enmity with God, threats to national security, militant activities, and secession. It is a common policy in Iran that Ahwazi Arab activists are accused of such charges as being a national security risk against the territorial integrity of so-called Iran.
These charges usually carry a death penalty or harsh sentences by Iranian judicial system.
We are asking a question to whom it may concern if is it fair that such educated and civil activists must be executed for the sake of their humble pen which is the only weapon that they have raised up in the struggle for having the rights of a prosperous and decent life for their people who live below the poverty line while their land is rich with natural resources such as oil, gas, fresh water, mining stone and many things besides.
It is, in fact, true that Ahwaz, which is the heart of Iran’s economic well-being, is considered to be one of the poorest regions among other Iran regions. In order to extract many of the resources beneath the soil, the grave environmental damage is taking place, and this is also affecting the people who live there. Since 2003 until now the climate in Ahwaz has dramatically changed and that is accounted for by the contamination and the pollution that is caused by industrial activities throughout Ahwaz.
Now Ahwaz is the most polluted region in Iran and the Middle East and annually many people die from various diseases. There are many hospitalized with chronic respiratory diseases, and many are afflicted with cancer. All of this is a direct result of Iran’s policies of exploitation of the land and resources without any adequate safety or conservation measures being enacted.
But it is the attempt to break the spirit and unity of these people in recent years. The Iranian regime has been focusing on the elite and most articulate Ahwazi figures, and it has imprisoned and exiled them, and in many cases, it has executed them so as to break the Ahwazi and deprive them of their fundamental rights of self-determination, just as all countries are entitled to have, including occupied countries that take their destiny into their own hands after a prolonged struggle against the occupation and oppression of colonialism.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
While Iran’s regime violation of human rights are ongoing, among its clearly declared policy is complicity with the Syrian regime in the crimes committed against its own people; polluting the Arab spring breeze that has turned to a something worse than a nightmare for the Syrian people who are painfully paying the cost in their daily struggle for rights and freedom.
If our prisoners have acted, it is just because they could not remain silent and blind in the face of the sufferings of their people, they could not be handcuffed and give up and watch what is going on in their Arab nation.
Everyone must bear in mind that the prisoners of Ahwaz are not criminals are not murderers, and they have not spilled the blood of anyone. The only spilling they are responsible for is the spilling of ink on paper to write the truth, although the truth is always a bitter pill to swallow for the corrupt dictatorial Iranian regime.
The Iranian judicial authorities have been ratifying the death penalty as the last step to silence innocent Ahwazi people after accusing the Ahwazi prisoners of terrorism-related offenses. It is clear that the only blame these Ahwazi sons and daughters have is that they are struggling to preserve their Arabic identity against Iran’s ethnic purification agenda against the Ahwazi people. The poverty they have brought upon these people, forcing them to live in abject misery is accompanied by the daily crackdown and racial bias and ongoing settlement projects from Iran occupier authorities.
In view of the above, the Iran regime is brazenly hypocritical because they have been claiming for years that they support the Palestinian cause but the story of their magnanimity is quite different on the ground, because they are executing Ahwazi people in front of the world’s eyes just because Ahwazi people demand their rights.
The Iranian occupation is targeting Ahwazi land and their identity through malicious national security policies that shatter their identity and their land. At present, the Ahwazi people are living in tragic situations where poverty and deprivation levels have reached a record high, and the killings and executions on trumped up charges are taking place as a matter of course. However, Ahwazi Arab people, who have bravely resisted the brutal Persian occupation for almost 90 years, staunchly defend their Arab identity and refuse to allow their culture to be annihilated by policies of the Iranian regime. The Ahwazi cause in fact is the issue of grief and sorrow which reflects the sheer ferocious crimes being perpetrated against this defenseless nation at the hands of occupying Iranian regime as they commit the same crimes in Iraq, Syria and others in the region proving their brutality and tyranny.
We demand of the free world to become aware of the depth and magnitude of the injustice and suffering which Ahwazis are suffering and the Ahwazi’s hope to have the people of the world stand on their side so that they can get their human rights which are non-negotiable a granted to all humans by international law. Ahwazi people have to live on their land just like any other free people, but they can only do this with support and pressure by the world that is based not on geopolitical interests, but on ethical and moral instances of human rights.
We address all peoples and governments to take the Ahwazi cause to heart and not ignore the people who are being denied justice and rights. We ask that you present our cause everywhere and support us. Also as a matter of common interests due to the fact that the Iranian regime has violated international laws and has entered into blatant interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, which shows that it has taken advantage of the goodwill of others, and instead has been oblivious or in overt hostility with much of the rest of the world.