Iran's Khozestan province (or Ahvaz) - the country's ethnic tinderbox

With news of discrimination against the underdogs of Ahvaz province constantly on the rise, it's obvious that surely all of such information aren't a bunch of tales.  Injustice is injustice no matter where.  This is horribly disappointing!

 Citing only two incidents out of dozens ..

A few days ago, a 32-year-old Arab-Iranian poet, Hashem Shabbani, was executed in an undisclosed prison with the official reason that he "waged war on God."  He was arrested soon after he spoke of the discriminatory treatment of ethnic Arabs in Khozestan province. In August 2011, Shabbani confessed on Press TV of being a member of an armed Arab terrorist group, about which he later swore that it was coerced.  All that's known about him is that he was promoting an understanding of Arab culture and literature in Iran which was not appreciated by the Iranian government.

A few months ago, residents of Ahvaz province, Lida Bagheri and her young daughter, who were living in a modest home own by the government were literally thrown out on the streets with their furniture after being detained for 16 hours because they could not afford to pay the rent.  She appealed to the governor of the province and the representatives of Ali Khamanei to help, but they did nothing.  Rents in Abadan are rapidly rising while the incomes of non-Iranian Arabs are plummeting.  The best job Lida Bagheri's husband could find was that of a street vendor which wasn't enough to pay their rent.

Ahvaz is one of the most ancient provinces in the region and quite cosmopolitan though predominantly Arab.  These Arabs are not recent settlers to Iran.  They are indigenous and have been living on that land since thousands of years.

Arab-Iranians constitute up to 8% of Iran's population most of whom reside in the oil-rich Khozestan province in western Iran, known as Ahvaz by Arabs.  Yet this province is the poorest in Iran.   According to all observers the people of Ahvaz are definitely subjected to discriminatory laws - socially and religiously.  Unfair trials of suspects are the commonest in Ahvaz.  According to Ahvaz News Agency, execution rates in the province are by far the highest in the country.  Poverty and joblessness are highest among Arabs, Kurds, and Balochs (non-Persians).

Unemployment is acute among Ahvazi Arabs due to a general attitude of reluctance of employers to hire locals in industries and workplaces.   The discrimination has caused much dissatisfaction and anger among the Iranian Arab youths.   Those Ahvazi Arabs who are employed are often confronted with the problem of non-payment of salaries and repression of trade unions creating obstacles for organizing collectively.  Employment in Abadan's huge oil refinery has a 50% quota for locals but managers of the oil companies are refusing to fulfill it.   Khozestan has a small representation in the Iranian parliament, about 16 or so members.  They are of the opinion that even those Arab youths with good education are being denied jobs in preference to indigenous migrant workers from other parts of Iran.

Since the last eight years, Ahvaz human rights organization and amnesty international have recorded numerous arrests and imprisonments of peaceful activists, imams, journalists and teachers in the province.  In 2007, traditional Arabic dress was banned.  Shortly afterwards, wearing of Arab kuffiyeh during public prayers was also banned, seen as a symbol of Arab resistance to ethnic discrimination.

In April 1979, there was an uprising by Arab Iranians in Ahvaz province demanding independence from the theocratic rule.  It was eventually crushed by the Iranian government.

One of Hassan Rouhani's promises during his election campaign of 2013 was to end the ethnic discrimination of non-Persian Iranians.  But so far, he has only aggravated the issue.  The deprived residents of Ahvaz were aggrieved during Ahemdinejad's era as they felt their poverty was largely neglected while the revenue from their land was being used on the country's nuclear project.  But executions were much less comparatively. Though Rouhani has indefinitely shut down the nuclear project, yet the distinct rise in persecution and death sentences of Arab-Iranians have been disturbing.   According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre (IHRDC) more than 300 people have been executed since Hassan Rouhani came to office in August 2013.

Iran forgets, Imam Hussein was an Arab, not a Persian.