With so much controversy surrounding, it is difficult to pinpoint one thing specifically in Iran to focus on. The theocratic regime has desecrated the country for so long and committed so many atrocities against its people that believe it or not; some of them even slipped through the cracks. The Ahwaz region is a prime example of this. As the regime stands on the world stage and demands that sanctions be lifted so that its people can flourish, in the background, they are internally committing what amounts to forced-displacement and cultural genocide against indigenous people in Southern and Southwestern Iran.
This once beautiful region of Iran also happens to be the most oil-rich in the entire country. The powers-that-be claim this area as their own, but herein lies the problem. The people of the region have lived in relative peace for centuries practising excellent agricultural skills and trade with people from all over the continent. When their regime took power many decades ago, these proud people refused to give up their culture and assimilate. They do not identify as Iranians; they are Ahwazi.
So, what happens when the regime is faced with such a thing? They are not precisely internationally known for their humane treatment of people that go against their wishes. In this case, there is nothing positive to report. The atrocities that are visited on these people range from torture, rape, and extended imprisonment to being wholeheartedly displaced from their ancestral lands. Frequently even the people that manage to escape the area and start a new life elsewhere are continuously persecuted by the regime.
How can this possibly go on without worldwide attention? The answer to that question is fairly easy to understand: Iran has caused so much commotion in the International community that people outside of the situation tend to turn a blind eye. The conflict is often referred to as a regional fight that nobody else wants to get involved in. That being the case, the ruling government is allowed to operate with impunity and carry out whatever plans they come up with. The purpose of this article is to focus on the forced displacement of all of these people and the methods that the government uses to carry these plans out.
Ahwazi people that are lucky enough to find employment because of skill-set and necessity are often overworked underpaid and often treated as little more than slaves. The wages that they earn are so low that they must scrape by, and when they cannot successfully adhere to the requirements of the regime such as taxes, they are often forced out of their homes, and their possessions are taken to repay whatever perceived debt exists. However, there is no official Declaration of a debt being owed, nor do the people have the opportunity to defend themselves against the claims.
When an Iranian government is friendly with a set of people that are not naturalised, they provide them with housing and schooling for their children. Frequently programs that could be rivalled only by the West. In the case of Ahwazi people, they are not afforded schools their children are forced to learn basically from the people around them and have no formal education unless there are extenuating circumstances. This permanently leaves them as being of very little use to the ruling powers.
Thanks to a network of dams on the great rivers of Iran, the government can weaponise the water that flows through them. As with most things that the regime does, this looks to be realistic on the surface. Most civilised societies do have a network of dams so that they can provide water to the people that live there. In the case of the regime, this system is manipulated to flood farmland, destroy crops, kill the livestock, destroy homes and ultimately force the people to be reliant on a government that would just as soon see them dead.
Sometimes the people are given warnings that the floods are going to occur, which causes mass panic and leads to civil unrest and death to people. There is nothing that they can do; if they are lucky enough to get a warning at all, then some of them can salvage some possessions, usually only what they can carry and attempt to get out of harm’s Way. Often when this happens, the government projects as though they are going to provide Aiden support, and then they order a media blackout and threaten anyone to that dare speak out against them. These people are left with nothing.
When there is not enough water for the government to use as a weapon, they often use drought for the same purpose. Being able to control how the water flows through your population also allows you to limit certain areas of that population. In the case of Ahwaz, when the regime is unable to flood people out, and they often dry them out. It is impossible to grow crops when there is no water to irrigate them with. This causes people to have to pick up their things and attempt to find another way to survive.
There are times when the powers that are in charge do not bother to manipulate the rivers physically; they just mass pollute them so that the food source of the people is affected. The people of this region use fish as a food source, and the rivers can become so polluted that the fish die in the water and wash up on the beach. Even with minimal foodstuffs, it is difficult for the people yet to attempt to consume these fish because they are acutely aware that they have died from the pollution.
You may find yourself asking why the regime would do these things? The answer to that is once again simple; over 95% of the oil reserves in the region are located where these people live. It is all about money. The Iranian regime does not value human life over cash reserves. The end game is for the government is to physically attempt to starve out or force the people to move by any means necessary. They may not outright kill them, but they might sentence them to a life where they had wished that they had died.
As previously mentioned, the International Community is slightly aware of what is going on but chooses not to get involved in regional conflicts. Even as the alarms have been raised, very little has been done to address the situation. This once peaceful nation was annexed to by the regime in the 20th century, and things have never been the same since. The plight of the people here, and the forced removal from their ancestral lands is something that needs to be at the forefront of all human rights organisations throughout the world. Even when assistance is provided, the funds and resources are consumed by the powers of the government. These culturally rich individuals are being stripped of their very humanity, let alone their land and their culture.
Despite being notified on several occasions through formal attempts, the United Nations has done nothing to answer the calls for help. They are well aware of what is happening in Ahwaz. But, the voice of these people is small compared to the loud the harsh sound of the existing regime. They have continually been silenced on the world stage regardless of the apartheid-like system that is still in place. They should be recognised as an independent country with access to their natural resources that will allow them to lead the life that they deserve. Their children should be educated in, their farmlands should be restored to them as well as any other property that has been taken from them.
As long as the ruling government is allowed to continue drowning them out, it will be up to human rights advocates to draw attention to the real situation going on and provide help to as many people as we can. These people are unduly discriminated against, arrested, imprisoned, and murdered simply for existing and refusing to give up who they are. There is no political gain, in allowing this to continue. No amount of money is worth exacting this toll on human lives, especially people that are just trying to exist peacefully.
Benjamin Minick is an accredited international journalist and blog author. He specialises in defence and politics. Ben has worked in the military and technology sector for over 20 years. Ben walked away from corporate America in 2019 to pursue his passion, began writing full time. You can follow Benjamin on his twitter account: https://twitter.com/TimberwolfP
The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Dur Untash Studies Centre.