This is the plight of Ahwazi Arab people
There is no war, no terrorist attacks, no explosions or air strikes but, death haunts all living things here, not only human beings.
When we speak of the suppression of Ahwazis, we speak of extrajudicial killings and executions of all those who defend human rights. There are many reasons and tools devised by the regime to mow down the Iranian people. Here shall we highlight one of the most vicious means through which the people in Ahwaz are targeted. This method is quietly being implemented. But, traces of it have surfaced on several occasions recently. The crime – ‘stealing water from Ahwaz’s rivers by changing their course towards the Persian provinces in the inner country.
The regime has pursued a systematic policy of repression in Ahwaz, leading to a surge in unemployment rates. The sector of society that is most severely affected by these underhand methods are the farmers, who once boasted the rich production of crops that grew from their fertile lands. After the rivers dried up, poverty and starvation forced farmers to move to the cities. There, they live in dire conditions. They struggle to attain the most basic needs of life. Some, are even unable to fill their bellies with food.
The second sector is fishermen and fowlers. These people often live near the rivers and marshes of the Ahwazi cities. They have been forced to abandon their lands after it was taken from them under like oil prospects. In their place, the regime established major firms controlled by IRGC affiliates and brought in Persian settlers loyal to it. Soon another disaster followed. As a result of the drying of the marches, the fish population died out. Birds also were impacted by these cruel changes, some died and others migrated. These scenes of the poor and destitute villagers suffice to spread grief in hearts of those people who suffer from the injustice of the heavy-handedness of the Iranian regime. As mentioned, Most of them migrated to the slums of the cities while others moved to the Persian cities to earn their living. Thus, the regime achieved one of its foremost aims, to enforce demographic changes in Ahwaz.
The intentional pollution of the environment in Ahwaz is a crime against all living there. Horses, trees, and farms were the first to be impacted by this pollution. Cultivation of palm trees in Ahwaz has also been cut in half as the drought hit the lands where they were planted. Ahwazi palms were of high quality and were being exported in bulk quantities.One must not forget, that these are deliberate operations pursuing a systematic policy of the regime to expand desertification of land by occasionally burning palm trees and green forests in Ahwaz. This is aimed at pushing inhabitants to migrate to cities and weakening them by poverty and unemployment. Due to these disastrous acts, suicide rates are on the rise among youths.
But, all this is only part of the disaster. There are other disasters caused by the pollution of the environment. For example, the spread of diseases. Ahwazis are impacted by dust attack throughout the year. The spread of various unknown diseases was announced by doctors, caused by viruses carried by the dust. According to reports of Iranian health centers, this does not include serious diseases and viruses, which have been growing in numbers in recent years. Those infected are those who are deprived of drinking water especially, women and children who are always at risk of contracting such diseases. We should not forget deformed children who may face death after sustaining injuries since they cannot afford the cost of treatment and medications. There are multiple Iranian reports speaking of drug running and human trafficking, saying these illegal practices have become semi-official. The perpetrators of these crimes are not called to account by law. The suffering of our Ahwazi people does not end there. There are other criminal policies enforced by the regime amid a deadly silence by the international community and the global humanitarian institutions.
This is occupied Ahwaz, There is no war, no bombings, no terrorist attacks and yet death haunts us in all its forms.
By Amina Hani, an Ahwazi rights activist