One of Iran's most famous human rights activists, Emad Baghi, has issued his strongest condemnation yet of the Iranian regime's treatment of Ahwazi Arabs.
In an article published in French on his website, Baghi states that the regime itself is responsible for creating the conditions for ethnic Arab unrest, including bomb attacks in Ahwaz.
He reiterated his call for understanding of Arabs' plight, rather than executions, would help quell unrest and also restated his opposition to the death penalty. He said: "They are individuals who live on the black gold of the oil-bearing province of Khuzestan, but have only known poverty and misery. There are among them individuals who believed in the reform, who fought by peaceful means to assert their rights while trying to elect representatives to the municipal councils of their cities and to Parliament. These efforts were in vain, leading to despair.
"There came a feeling of political and social obstruction. Misery, scarcity, humiliation and despair can only generate one of two reactions: depression and passivity or aggressiveness. And what did we who owe our wellbeing with the oil revenue do? Would these attacks have taken place if we had not remained silent over these inequalities and denounced discrimination?"
Baghi's assessment of the situation in Ahwaz was welcomed by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS). BAFS spokesman Nasser Bani Assad said: "The Iranian regime's attempts to crush Ahwazi Arabs legitimate demands for human rights, social equality and political representation on the basis of the Iranian Constitution has fuelled anger. The recent round of executions has only inflamed the situation, alienating many Ahwazi Arabs, particularly the young who are suffering high levels of unemployment. The poverty and discrimination that Ahwazi Arabs endure in Iran is creating the basis of ethnic unrest and serious social problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse, smuggling and criminality.
"Ahwazi Arabs are being vilified by hardliners within the Iranian intelligensia, who are portraying them as morally corrupt. But their social situation is merely a symptom of the moral corruption at the heart of the Iranian establishment.
"Emad Baghi has given many Ahwazi Arabs hope that they can win their rights without recourse to violence. We call on civil society to join with Baghi in condemning racial discrimination against Ahwazi Arabs and other minority groups in Iran."