In its latest wave of implementing Apartheid policies, on 11 October 2011 the Iranian authorities shut down the Ahwaz Zamzam Company and sacked its 105 local Arab workers. “We no longer need those 105 employees” said Moghaddam Shapurjian the spokesperson for Zamzam Company in Ahwaz.
Despite his New Year message Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps General and Khuzestan’s Governor Mohammed Hejjazi when he said ” Other Great works are also under way. Year 2011 (1390 Iranian Calendar) is a year in which we have planned to provide 137,500 jobs vacancies for you the young girls and boys”, EAHRO has learned that Iran has intensified its crackdown against at least1,000 Ahwazi Arab workers in Ahwaz Pipe Factory and Ahwaz municipality on the grounds of race and ethnicity in 2011.
In August 2011, Ktanbaf Mansoor and IRGC member fired 400 Ahwazi workers apparently for participating in or supporting pro-democracy demonstrations in April and May 2011. Many of the sacked employees have not been paid their salaries and their appeal has reached deadlock. The average monthly payment of these sacked workers was I.R. 3,500, 000 ($390).
‘These dismissals are nothing less than a ‘political purification’ of the workplace and it’s another ethnic cleansing crime’ said Zaydan Sayahi, ex-employee in Ahwaz council.
Hundreds of Ahwazi Arab workers have been discrimated against and fired by private employers and state-owned companies this year alone. Hundreds more are facing the same fate as employers begin a wave of punishment. Large-scale dismissals of Ahwazi workers demonstrates Iran’s breaching of its own labour law. Iran is breaching Articles 6, 21, 24 and 25 of its labour law:
‘Article 6: By virtue of Clause 4 of Article 43, Clause 6 of Article 2, and Articles 19, 20 and 28 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, The people of Iran, of any tribe and ethnic group, shall enjoy equal rights. Colour, race, language and their likes shall not be treated as a privilege, as all people, whether male or female shall be equally protected by law. Every person has the right to choose his desired occupation provided that it is not contrary to Islam and public interests, and does not infringe upon others’ rights.’
In February 2011 areport published by Minority Rights Group International rated Ahwaz the second poorest and deprived region in Iran:
‘In regard to economic inequality, [Arabistan Al Ahwaz] Khuzestan is only outdone by Sistan-Baluchistan, another province where ethnic minorities constitute the bulk of the population, where unverifiable reports put 76 per cent of the population below the poverty line, in stark contrast to the national rate of 18 per cent.
In a recent report Amnesty International said ‘Iranian government-directed migration of non-Arabs into Khuzestan(Ahwaz) is linked to economic policies that offer zero per cent interest loans to Migrants, but not to Arabs’
British Arab Media Watch also condemning “the systematic ethnic cleansing policies” said “89% of Ahwazis live under poverty line and he rate of unemployment among the Arabs much higher than the national average in a region which is home to more than 80% of Iran’s oil reserves.
In April Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi called to the United Nation’s High Commissioner of Human Rights said 2more than 12 people were killed, 20 wounded and dozens were arrested” when Sunni Ahwazi Arabs staged a peaceful demonstration to protest “their dire conditions and discrimination” and were attacked by Iranian authorities.