The Iranian regime is continuing its confiscation of Ahwazi farmers’ lands, recently seizing yet more agricultural land at the Iran-Iraq border from farmers there, with the confiscated farmland being given to Persian settlers in the region as a way to encourage resettlement there.
The latest confiscation of land, near the remote village of Juffair in westernmost Al-Ahwaz (also known as Khuzestan province) on the border with Iran, followed an earlier regime project to resettle Iranian army veterans and other Persians who lost family members in the Iran-Iraq war and reward them for their loyal service , giving them 40,000 hectares of empty land in a nearby area and providing government subsidies in the hopes that the area could be turned into productive agricultural farmland.
When this project failed after a few months due to the barren nature of the land in question, the officials in charge of the project abandoned the plan, turning their attention instead to the nearby fertile farmlands belonging to Ahwazi farmers. After approaching the regime’s Cooperative institutions responsible for the local land management, the regime officials issued compulsory purchase orders to seize the farms and agricultural land from the farmers, most of whom had inherited the land from their forefathers who farmed it for generations.
The Juffair farmers said that the Cooperative institutions collaborated closely with the regime officials in implementing the new policy, issuing documents falsely naming newly arrived Persian settlers from other regions as the owners of the seized lands.
The Arab farmers are resorting to legal action to attempt to reclaim their confiscated land and to prevent any similar actions by the regime in the future, as well as holding protests to raise awareness of the injustice inflicted on them. At one such protest recently, farmers held placards reading, “The Juffair lands belong to local farmers” and “We oppose any kind of acts aim at confiscating our lands”.
Hussein Moramazi, the chairman of the Howeyzeh Farmers Association, told Iran’s Hamashahri News Agency that farmers in the area have come under heavy pressure and intimidation from regime-affiliated bodies to hand over their agricultural land. “The companies which claim to be aiming to nationalize the land are placing the farmers under pressure and trying to intimidate them and force them to give up their land,” he said, adding, “When the local farmers protest at these measures, the companies accuse them of opposing public opinion. While the company directors claim that they’re totally unaware of the occurrence of such violations, farmers say they’ve visited the company directors many times and shown them land ownership documents, asking them not to seize the land, but their words have been ignored. This action is causing conflict and tension between the farmers and the offenders [Persian settlers], but local farmers who are desperate have been confronted by security forces who threaten and intimidate them.”
According to the project, Moramazi said, the regime needs to ascertain that any land which it plans to distribute to veterans or others is not currently under ownership. He added that, also according to the project, only ten hectares of land could be allocated per family. Unfortunately, the farmers’ union official said, the Persian settlers are exploiting the names of the martyrs’ families to illegitimately seize residents’ fertile agricultural lands, disregarding any principles of justice or the ownership documents which support the rightful owners’ claim to their lands, many of which back to 1940 and before. In many cases, regime-affiliated institutions and companies have exerted heavy pressure on the Ahwazi Arab farmers, forcing them to hand over their ownership documents without providing any compensation for the stolen lands.