Majid Naasseri-Nejad, a member of parliament representing the Arab populated area of Fallahieah (Shadegan), called on Iran's Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh to ensure equitable employment practices in the oil-rich Arab-majority province of Khuzestan or face impeachment, according to reports.
Naasseri-Nejad claimed that the Oil Ministry had been placing recruitment advertisements in Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tehran and other cities and provinces, but was not actively recruiting from the local Arab population. Some Arab districts are enduring unemployment rates of up to 90 per cent, he claimed.
The practice of moving non-Arabs into the area to fill job vacancies is highly controversial among the impoverished local Ahwazi Arabs. Discriminatory employment practices are rooted in the government's long-term programme of reducing the proportion of Arabs in the province from 70 per cent to around a third through "ethnic restructuring". This was outlined in a top-secret letter written by the then Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi which was leaked last year. The Abtahi letter led to an Ahwazi uprising that was crushed by the regime, killing more than 160 people.
Last month, Portuguese Socialist MEP Paulo Casaca, who heads the European Parliament's delegation to NATO, condemned the Iranian government's policies in Khuzestan as "ethnic cleansing".
Abtahi's secret letter on ethnic restructuring
Paulo Casaca's condemnation of ethnic cleansing against Ahwazis - BAFS, 19 January