Relative Of Hanged Ahwazis Calls for International Prosecution Of Judges

A relative of two executed Ahwazi Arabs is calling on the international community to issue a warrant for the arrest of two Iranian judge...

Confiscation of “Thadaeen” village near the city of Ahwaz by National Iranian Oil Company(NIOC)

Details from local newspaper "Hamshahri".

NIOC has confiscated lands of the villagers of Thadaeen in Ahwaz region.This village is located in north east of Ahwaz and has 2000 inhabitants. In early seventies 400 Hectars of villager’s land was confiscated, and they were compensated by only 0.004 Dollar for a meter, which by owners estimates mounted to nothing.
Due to lack of education villagers gave their original ownership documents to NIOC and the oil company confiscated the land of people who did not have any documents of ownership as it belonged to the indigenous population for centuries. 

These lands were used for farming by the villagers according to customary laws of the village. NIOC built  walls to prevent access by the farmers.  After 10 years the owners complained to the courts but no measures were taken.

According to the testimonies of  “Naji Al Meskin" one of the locals the lands confiscated today by NIOC were used for agriculture. To prevent any action from villagers against the wall, the oil company hired some of villagers as security guards to protect the facilities.

Despite of villagers objections, NIOC announced that they will established a golf club in the confiscated lands, and will continue with his project and are planning  to organise a national golf competition.

“Hafez Mansouri” another local inhabitant said that their land is divided to 3 part and , one of them has been sold with a high price to national rail company.

“Hamad Baldi” one of the villagers added that non of the educated youth of the village is hired by the oil company and in addition our football playground is also confiscated by NIOC.

 Below is a video report by IRIB news about the golf tournaments in Ahwaz

Ahwazis Participate in a conference in the Scottish Parliament

UNPO, in collaboration with the Third Generation Project (TGP) and MSP Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats), held a conference entitled ‘Sharing Perspectives on the Rights of the Unrepresented on the Eve of UNPO's XIII General Assembly’

Mona Silavi ,one of the founders of Napirasu (Voice of Ahwazi Women ) and spokeswoman of Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (DASPA) delivered a speech in the panel titled “  being woman and from an unrepresented community and the importance of intersectionality of fight double discrimination” . 
In her speech she highlighted the plight of women belonging to ethnic minorities in Iran . 
According to Silavi "the necessity of gender equality is not even recognised in Iran , and the government does not eve believe in gender equality and all the criteria that result in shaping social injustice are justified by religious texts . Recognition is the first step , we have to recognise that there is problem first and then work on amending it . Rights of nations in Iran is not recognised the same way the rights of women in these communities are not recognised . 

Women from minorities do not have the privilege of education in there own language , hence no access to higher education and consequently no possibility to compete in the job market . These women are not discriminated against only because they are women , their discrimination has another layer which is related to their ethnic or religious back ground and we can clearly see this phenomenon against religious minorities such as Bahaists or Sunnis and among  all non-Persian ethnicities.

The other issue is the underdeveloped areas where these minorities live ,where schools are far from the place of residence and families tend to  send their sons to school but not their daughters . In my community indigenous Arab women either work in farming or breeding animals and deliberate destruction of the environment , they lose their income and economic independency and are forced to become street vendors in the cities with an income that will not be enough to support herself . 

In the media also  Arab women are discriminated against and are portrayed as uneducated low class ,back warded with a a dark complexion as if dark skin is a negative trait , and the media never explained why these women are poor , or low class or backward, minorities  are rather blamed for the condition they are in .”

This is the link to the video of the conference 

Wave of Arrest Against Ahwazi Arab Civil Activists

On Saturday 25 of May Judge Purmohammadi of branch 4 of Iranian revolutionary court in Ahwaz sentenced 3 Ahwazi Arab cultural activists to prison and exile .According to Ahwaz News citizen reporter, on March 2017 Issa Damani ,Mojahed Zergani and Hussein Heidari were arrested for allegedly “spreading propaganda against the Iranian government” and establishing non-governmental organisations .

Each of the activists received 1 year prison sentence . Among the three ,Issa Damani  , an Arabic teacher will be exiled to “Takab” city in western Azerbaijan .The civil activities of  these 3 men were ranged from teaching Arabic language in a language center , creating a civil group to amend tribal laws and decrease the negative impacts of tribal believes and traditions ,in addition to founding a charity to help the poor .All three activists were arrested in March 2017 and were held in an undisclosed detention center for a period of 1 month and a half.

According to our sources Hussein Heidari is a freelance translator and the breadwinner of the family and Mojahed Zergani had an accident couple of years ago where he injured his leg severely and suffers from the complications of the injury .
In a period of less than a month another Ahwazi Arab poet and cultural activist Amer Silawi
was arrested for the sixth time on Monday 12th of June  2017. On November 8, 2016, after fifth arrest he was temporarily released  on a  bail of one and half billion Rials .Amer Salem Silawi a 35 year old father who is being held without any charge and his location remains undisclosed.

Human rights activists reported that Amer Silawi participated in human chains in protest of diverting Karun river to Isfahan and other cities while local farmers are deprived from cultivating their lands due to lack of water .He has also been active in organising  traditional "Amakhibis" game, during the nights of Ramadan which this year he was prohibited by security agents from participating .
Silawi has a clothing store in “Kot Abdullah”, and at various occasions, including Eid al-Fitr, he was offering clothes with low prices for the poor.

According to one of Amer Silawi relatives, Amer was arrested from his shop without any prior notice and no information has been given to his family about his whereabouts. The source added that if Amer's arrest had been linked to his former dossier , he should be legally summoned not being taken away in this manner .

Why you should not invest in Iran!

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is on a drive to attract foreign investment, which he believes is essential for economic health and job creation in a country where more than one in four young people are unemployed. Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce is going all out to woo managers of foreign sovereign wealth funds and major corporations to prop-up a failed economy; one that has not only been decimated by sanctions but also by the fact that untold billions are diverted away from state coffers to weapons purchases and to keep the ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard fat cats happy.
But with terrorism-related US sanctions on Iran as well as a new round of sanctions in response to its illegal testing of ballistic missiles, would-be investors and banks remain cautiously hesitant and they are right to be so.
The investment climate remains unfavourable; it is over-regulated, suffocated by red tape and company ownership is anything but transparent in Iran, where the Supreme Leader and his Revolutionary Guard Corps control massive industrial and business empires. Corruption is rife through every sector of society. Iran ranked the 131st of 170 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 compiled by Transparency International – a global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption.
Investing in Iran is not only risky and fraught with obstacles, in my view, pumping large sums of money into a terrorist-sponsoring state with an abysmal #humanrights record is nothing short of unethical. I have always taken the view that trade with Iran serves its murky goals and should be discouraged no matter the financial rewards.
Khalaf Ahmad Habtoor

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Ahwazis in Diaspora Commemorate the Anniversary of April Uprising

Dozens of Ahwazis in London commemorated 12th anniversary of April uprising which took place in 15 April 2005. Following a leaked document from Khatami’s office , then Iran’s president , Ahwazi Arabs took the streets to condemn these policies. During protests in Ahwaz city Security forced opened fire on unarmed demonstrators and more than 20 Ahwazi were killed, 500 injured and 250 arrested . 

The document , signed by former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and written in 1999, suggests a time-frame of 10 years to accomplish the ethnic restructuring programme.

The document included plans to reduce the Arab population to around one-third of the province's total population through forced migration and eliminating all traces of Arab culture and language, including names of streets and towns.

Till this day the Iranian officials deny the existence of such letter and accuse foreign countries of plotting the uprising , however the situation on the ground and the reports from Ahwaz and Arab political and cultural activists confirms the discriminative policies of Tehran against the Arab population of Arabistan (Khuzestan ) .

Drought, pollution , discrimination, poverty and lack of development in Arab populated region in south-west of Iran,  a region that produces up to 82 percent of Iran’s oil GDP has been pushing more and more Arabs to forcibly immigrate to other cities .Today the Arabic names of roads , streets and buildings are almost non-existent ,historical sites related to Arab culture and history are deserted and no fund is assigned to preserve them ,the right to chose Arabic names for your children (unless they are Islamic names ) and the right of education in Arabic are among hundreds and thousands of rights that the Arab population in Iran are deprived from . 

Yet Again Iranian Parliament Overrides Assigning a Budget for Environmental Conservation

On Tuesday 14th of March , during the plenary session to discuss the annual budget in Iranian parliament , the proposal to assign  3% of  oil and gas revenues for development and conservation of environment in oil rich areas was denied by the objection of “Guardian Council of the Constitution” and the voting of the parliament  . 

“Guardian Council of the Constitution” announced that , as this proposal fails to mention the exact amount of funds to be dedicated to this project ,it is in contradiction with article 53 of Iranian constitution which states  “All sums collected by the government will be deposited into the government accounts at the central treasury, and all disbursements, within the limits of allocations approved, shall be made in accordance with law.”

Consequently the proposal was overruled after 149  members of parliament voted against , 14 voted in favore and 3 sustained. Iranian parliament has also in the past repeatedly voted against such proposal .

 “Guardian Council of the Constitution” is too keen to abide  by the  constitution that in its article50 states The preservation of the environment, in which the present as well as the future generations have a right to flourishing social existence, is regarded as a public duty in the Islamic Republic. Economic and other activities that inevitably involve pollution of the environment or cause irreparable damage to it are therefore forbidden.” 

However no real measure have been taken by the Iranian government to tackle the environmental situation and implement article 50 on the ground  ,especially in oil rich areas such as Al-Ahwaz region , the producer of up to 80% of Iran’s oil and gas.

Arab populated Arabistan province (Khuzestan as it is also called ) in oil rich south-west  ,is one of the most underdeveloped  provinces in Iran where discrimination ,poverty ,high unemployment and illiteracy rates and environmental pollution have pushed the locals to the edge . 

Past month hundreds of locals took the streets  for days in protest to the continuous dust and sand storms and pollution that resulted in water and electricity outages for several days in more than 11 cities of the province . 

Refusing to assign even 3% of oil revenues to the province and the well-being of its people and its  environment is illegal and is in clear contradiction with article 50 of Iranian constitution . 

“Minorities in Iran During Hassan Rouhani’s presidency“ a Panel in Swiss Parliament

On march 8th, the Swiss parliament hosted a conference for the representatives of different ethnicities in Iran . Prominent political and human rights figures including Dr. Karim Abdian , the senior advisor of Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (DSPA), Mustafa Hijri , Head of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) , Shirin Ebadi, human rights advocate and noble prize winner along with representative of Baluchistan , Azerbaijani Turk , Turkemen and a group of Swiss parliamentarians .

Dr. Abdian shared his views on the matter , here are some highlight of his speech during the event. "Ahwazi-Arabs, residing mainly in the southwest of Iran, in the province of Khuzestan or as called by its indigenous name, eghlim Al-Ahwaz or Arabistan, are an ethnic, national and linguistic minority in Iran. 
They are caught between an unfortunate phenomenon; they are subjected to racism due to historical Persian-Arab animosity.  Ahwazi-Arabs have been one of the excluded constituent nationalities and Socio-economically, among the most oppressed and rank at the bottom- estimated to be between 5-7 million or about 10% of the population. The regime changed the Arabic name to Persian one to deny their Arab identity. Ahwazi-Arab historical lands account for 90% of Iran’s oil GDP, yet they live in abject poverty.

Notwithstanding all that oppression and persecution, Ahwazis along with other non-dominant nationalities in Iran believe in non-violent struggle and indeed believe that this amazing diversity can be translated into unity to establish a just, democratic and a pluralistic society as the Swiss, the Indians and the Americans have done so.

No, during the presidency of Mr. Rouhani there has not been any progress, nor there will be should he be elected president in May. Because he, as other founders of the Islamic Republic, are of the belief that,  the minorities are secessionists  and hence a danger to the territorial integrity of Iran. 

here  I will show Iran’s recent “human rights council” book bout minorities and how Arabs are being totally ignored and eliminated , city by city , ethnicity by ethnicity only Arabs are excluded , I talked about this in Geneva during the minority forum , it is a blatant anti -Arab sentiment . 
I challenge the Swiss delegates or any European going to Iran to ask  Rouhani was it an accident that a majority Arab province was not mentioned in the report ? it is the regime’s agenda to forcibly assimiliate the Arabs ,and deny the Arabs their nationality and heritage .

 In response to a question related to foreign investment in Iran Abdian answered  :” first of all no investments ,investment helps the Iranian regime because it lets Iranian regime continue its suppression ,but should the Swiss or Europeans should invest these are the conditions : one ,avoid Tehran and Isfahan ,but go to minority areas , two try to impose a quota , it is really important at least 1/3 from the local indigenous population , the regime will resist it , third, the company should comply with environmental studies , Chinese company dump the pollution in the rivers, and having safety standards for workers , under these standards we encourage investment in Iran ."

Young Ahwazi Arabs Raise Awareness about their Cause in Amsterdam Famous “ Dam” Square

“Dam” which is Amsterdam’s main square is a well-known location for events and demonstrations and yesterday , a group of young Ahwazi Arabs living in Holland  gathered there with photos ,maps and Ahwaz flag to introduce the Ahwazi cause and their plight to pedestrians in Amestrdam’s most populated areas . 

Hossein Zayeri one of the participants who initiated this stand tells AHWAZ NEWS : “ I have the freedom of speech , freedom of assembly and I am the voice of my compatriots who can not raise theirs because they will be prosecuted ,  I have the opportunity to introduce my land and what my people suffer from  “ he adds “ this is a stand to show our solidarity with prisoners in Ahwaz and the unjust sentences and treatment our civil society activist are subjected to “ . 

One of the photos he holds is the photo of Mrs.Fahimeh Badwi , the school teacher who was arrested along with her husband  in November 2005 while she was 8 month pregnant . She gave birth to her daughter “Salma” in Ahwaz ministry of intelligence and was sentenced to 15 years in prison ,while husband was executed under the charge of “enmity against God “ a year after . 
Although Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation has called for her release various times, unfortunately Iran has systematically ignored the calls and refuses till this day . 

We asked Hossein if he would do this kind of stand again , he says “yes of course , it is something that we are thinking about doing it regularly , there were lot of people who were interested and I was more than happy to tell them about my hometown .“  

#Ahwaz Takes Over Instagram to Draw Attention to the Environmental Pollution

After it was announced that UNEP Executive Director, Erik Solheim  will visit Iran from 24th to 26th February of this year , Ahwazi people  took on Instagram and Twitter to ask Mr.Solheim to visit Ahwaz wetlands and called international organisations to find a solution for the problem of sand storms ,which for the past months has interrupted their everyday lives ,closed the schools and caused power outages throughout the province . 

As Iranian officials are reluctant to address these issues , civilians took on themselves to raise awareness about their situation in one of World’s most polluted cities according to World Heath Organisation (WHO) .  Ahwaz is the center of oil industries and the producer of up to 80% of Iran’s  crud oil ,meanwhile not even 1% of the oil revenues are assigned to the protection of the environment or the welfare of its habitants and the cities of the province which till this day carry the scars of the eight year war between Iraq and Iran. 

Majority Arab province of Khuzestan is without a doubt one of the most deprived provinces in Iran which has been systematically sidelined and marginalised both in the reign of the shah of Iran and by larger scale after the Iranian revolution 38 years ago . 

Without a doubt Instagram is one of the most popular apps that is used inside Iran and the people of Ahwaz use Instagram on daily bases to share their everyday struggle in the absence of clean air and water . 

Thousands of #Ahvaz could be seen under the videos and photos that were posted by UNEP Director ,asking Mr.Solheim to visit Ahwaz and shared their concerns with the worsening  environmental situation in the province  ,some users wrote “Ahwaz needs your help “,  “we can’t breath “ while others posted emojis in masks .

Unfortunately visit to Ahwaz was not scheduled in Mr. Solheim’s agenda .He stated in a video which he eventually posted after receiving the many comments of Ahwazis on Twitter and Instagram ,”he could only visit lake Urmia which was also hit by the sand and dust storms” .
 He stated the following in a video  “A message to Khuzestan “ which he posted on his personal Instagram account :

“ A big thanks to all you from great city of Ahwaz who have written to me to alert me about the horrible dust and sand storm which hit your city last week . I can’t visit you this time because we long agreed to go here “lake Urmia” which also was severely hit by the phenomenon of sand and dust storm ,but rest assure that i have used every opportunity to discuss the sand and dust storm  with Iranian authorities and rest assure that Iranian officials and UN have agreed to  do whatever we can to uplift this issue in the international agenda and get it stopped or reduced in the years to come , and for sure I  know you all good people in Ahwaz and Khuzestan really want to know what we can do to avoid  future sand and dust storms , I have two suggestions : Iran managing wetlands       ,manage water better than they are able to do today , and i know that the government of iran is really adamant  to make sure this happens , added building broad coalition ,Turkey ,Saudi Arabia ,Iraq  all those other nations ,that also have impact on the situation right here in Iran and together I am sure we can have enormous progress and thank you for all you are  doing and please for sure don't hesitate to contact us in United Nations and give suggestions about what we can do better.” 

Ahwazis also used the same medium to alert and contact the head of UNDP Iran ,Mr. Gary Lewis 
and sent him photos which demonstrated the magnitude of the pollution in the city .

Link to the video message by UNEP Executive Director to Ahwazi people :

photos posted by Instagram users from Ahwaz 

Wetland Conservation And Fallahieh (Shadegan) Exclusion

Photo curtsey of Financial Tribune
(An arial photo from Fallahieh wetlands ) 

The 400,000 hectare Fallahieh (Shadegan) wetland in  south of Al-Ahwaz is the largest in Iran and fourth international wetland in the world . 

 Fallahieh wetland is registered under (Shadegan) in Ramsar convention ,which is an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands .

Other important list in this convention is the Montreaux record . The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the list of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference . 

Since 1975 Fallahieh has been registered in this record ,unfortunately no real measures has been taken to conserve this valuable ecosystem which is not only important for the indigenous Arab population of South-west region whose only source of income is fishing and agriculture in these wetlands  ,but it is also home to a diverse species of birds ,fishes and mammals  . 

 Once upon a time more than 40 kinds of birds ,emigrated from areas as far as Russia ,but more and more of these birds are becoming instinct ,unfortunately during the past 4 decades, excessive dam construction, water malemanagment, corruption, unrestricted oil extraction ,oil leakage ,  failure to uphold Fallahieh's water rights , and disposal of industrial waste and chemicals remaining from Iran/Iraq war has transformed  the once thriving wetland to a barren land . 

There is a document in the website of wetland conservation project under this title “Conservation of Iranian Wetlands , priority projects “ which was created by the cooperation of Environment Protection Organisation and United Nation Development Project (UNDP).

What is interesting about the document is that ,although Fallahieh (Shadegan) has been in the Montreux list for the past 4 decades ,however its name is no where to be found in the report . In the previous phases of wetland conservation project between the year 2005-2013 ,Fallahieh was one of the three main sites to be conserved along with Lake Urmia and Parishan wetland ,but the new report on the project’s website which unfortunately is in Farsi only , does not identify Fallahieh wetland as a priority . 

 Link to report in Persian :