Written by Rahim Hamid
According to a shocking report circulated widely on social media and Iranian news websites, a prominent Ahwazi martial arts champion has offered to sell one of his kidneys due to poverty and unemployment.
Adnan Amiri, who has won kickboxing trophies both in Iran itself and competing for the country internationally, said that he feels driven to the desperate measure since he needs the money to feed his family and pay for essential medical treatment for his mother, who is ill. “I decided to sell my kidney,” he told an Iranian media outlet, adding, “I could no longer provide for my family.”
Amiri, who won Iran’s first international title as kickboxing champion at a tournament in Turkey last year, said on Tuesday that he had put up flyers offering to sell a kidney and providing his blood type and phone number, around hospitals and kidney transplant centres in his hometown of Falahiyeh and in other cities in the Ahwaz region.
Such desperate measures are, tragically, not unusual for Ahwazi peoples, who are treated as second-class citizens by the Iranian regime and denied the most basic rights. Despite the fact that the Ahwaz region is home to over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by the regime, Ahwazis are accorded inferior status due to their Arab ethnicity, living in conditions of medieval poverty due to the regime’s imposition of what is in effect a de facto apartheid system.
Speaking about the decision to offer his kidney for sale, Amiri said that his mother is suffering from a serious illness and he doesn’t have sufficient funds to send her to a good hospital for treatment, with no medical insurance cover provided by the government. He explained that despite his sporting champion status, he is unable even to pay his rent and to provide for his wife and children, adding, “I know that after doing this, I will have to give up on my dreams in kickboxing since I’ll be too weak to do it, but providing bread is more critical for me now.”
The scourge of poverty is rife in Ahwazi areas and like lethal disease hits and shatters, and displaces Ahwazis. The leading cause behind the growing poverty in Ahwaz can, in part, be attributed to the unequal employment opportunities and stifling unemployment intentionally inflicted on Ahwazis. These policies are an indispensable part of the Iranian regime discriminatory policies undertaken against Ahwazis, who continue to demand their basic rights. The Iranian regime regards the Ahwazis as second-class due to their Arab ethnicity and disseminates the mythology of Persians as a superior race. As such, the Persian settlers loyal to the Iranian regime in Al-Ahwaz are accorded all rights and privileges.
As a matter of fact, Ahwazis continue to live in such acute and grinding poverty and an endless marathon of divestment that many of them have no option but to consider leaving their homeland as the only viable alternative available to them. The Iranian regime exercises and exploits poverty as a harsh weapon against Ahwazis with the sole intention of forcing them to leave their lands.
The world needs to know that Ahwazi Arabs are longing for justice, freedom, genuine equality, and a different, and much better future.
Rahim Hamid is a freelance journalist and human rights advocate based in the USA who writes about the plight of his community – the Ahwazi Arabs – and other ethnic groups in Iran.