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Misappropriation and theft of ethnic Arab lands in South Iran

By Mrs Pooran Saki

Major General Mohsen Rezai, ex-Commander of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has declared that the government is going to take over land in Dashte Azadagan (Bani Torof) in order to use it as a War Museum.

Dashte Azadagan is in the South of Iran and is populated by ethnic Arabs, who lived here before Iran was formed as a state. During the Iran-Iraq war, this area suffered very heavily - the warfare caused massive damage which destroyed most of the city's buildings, and contaminating the air and water with chemical pollution. The region is still shockingly deficient in educational levels and facilities, in health provision and farming resources, but the Iranian government deliberately ignores the problems.

Now a new deception is to be perpetrated on this region - the government state that they want to seize the land in order to control the area, thereby forcing the ethnic Arab citizens to move from their local region to other parts of Iran.

The government carried out this fraud in 1990, when they demanded that all Arab farmers sell their land, compulsorily and at an unjustly low price. The government stated that they were going to grow sucrose in this area. Of course what they really want is to have a monopoly on oil production, which is also known to be there.

Eventually all the farmers left, without their jobs or livelihoods, and without sufficient funds to purchase new lands. Later, the government changed the traditional system of irrigation and polluted the water. This had a catastrophic effect, for many diseases spread around the region, and this led to many ethnic Arabs moving away from their local area.

I, as an Arab from Ahwaz, protest against this underhand exploitation and misappropriation of ethnic Arab, which is impoverishing and driving out the people, and amounts to no less than theft. Why is Mr Razaiye considering a new War Museum? The local population, who have been victims of the war have a greater need to have the region cleared of mines and chemical pollution, and they need to be safe and secure.

Why do we continue to hear about children being killed by mines or dying slowly from mysterious diseases? This is unacceptable. Are these people being made to suffer because of their minority ethnic Arab status?