A delegation of German businesses may invest up to US$300 million in the controversial Arvand Free Trade Zone (AFTZ), which is being established through the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population.
Reports in the official Iranian media suggest that US$20 million will be invested in a paper mill in the zone, with construction due to begin by June. Other industries cited as attracting German investment include the production of industrial alcohol, pharmaceuticals and edible oil.
The region has witnessed serious labour unrest as a result of unpaid wages, particularly in the sugar mill and ship-building industries. Workers have complained that they are faced with starvation due to poor labour conditions. The Iranian government and the private sector have sought to crush labour activism, using the Lebanese Hezbollah to carry out their dirty work. At the same time, the Arvand Free Trade Zone Organisation is expropriating Arab-owned land around Mohammareh (Khorramshahr) and Abadan, with thousands of villagers being made homeless. The practice has been condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, and leading human rights groups. In the past month, the Iranian regime has cut off drinking supplies to Arab villages in order to force them off their lands ahead of acquisition under the auspices of the AFTZ.
Spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), Nasser Bani Assad, said: "German investment will help support the ethnic cleansing of Ahwazi Arabs and the crushing of the labour movement. Foreign businesses involved in the AFTZ have Ahwazi Arab blood on their hands. We will find out which German businesses are supporting the regime's racist campaign and we will name and shame them. We are prepared for a strong disinvestment campaign and we will take action at a European level.
"Volkswagen was built on Jewish slave labour. We say 'never again'. Ahwazi Arabs demand nothing less than fair compensation, labour representation, a living wage and an end to discrimination and persecution for the sake of the profits of the hated mullahs and their foreign backers. The Germans have forgotten the lessons of their country's bloody past."