Sunday, 3 June 2012

Iran Confiscates 150 Hectares (370 acres) of Ahwazi Land in Ma’shoor, 110-km South of Ahwaz City





The confiscation in Mesh Anbar region was carried out by the Prosecutor Office in cooperation with Natural Resources Department. Provincial Prosecutor office described the confiscation as “repossession”. It was executed under the direct supervision and presence of Ma'shoor's Prosecutor, Public Relations Office said.


In April 2012 Iran arrested 50 Arab farmers in Achisheh and Shakerieh villages of Hamidieh and Khafajieh for protesting against the confiscation of their lands by the National Oil Company of Iran after discovering oil fields in the region. The National Oil Company had promised cash payouts and arable land in other areas, but instead security forces arrested the farmers at night.


"Arab lands have been confiscated with no or negligible compensation, e.g. more than 120,000 hectares were expropriated for a cane sugar expansion project, more than 47,000 hectares for an agricultural project of the war veterans in the Jofeir region, more than 25,000 hectares for  fishery construction, and more than 6,000 hectares for housing   ‘devout people’ from northern and north-eastern Khuzestan [Arabistan] province in areas bordering the city of Shoush; More than 50,000 were displaced in Shirinshahr residential estate for expansion of cane sugar project" International Federation for Human Rights reported on 19 April 2011.

"In 2005 UN's Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, had condemned the Iranian government's confiscation of land owned by Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Bahais and Qashqai nomads following his visit to Iran.

Kothari visited Ahwaz City where he was able to meet Ahwazi lawyers and human rights activists, who showed him the devastation of Tehran's "ethnic restructuring" programme on the Ahwazi Arab population of. The regime has been forcibly transferring Ahwazi-owned land and property to other ethnic groups brought into Khuzestan or the oil and sugar industries. Homes have also been demolished by the regime in an attempt to force them out of the province and "Persianise" Khuzestan. Ahwazis have been made homeless and destitute by the government, while their land is being used to enrich a military-religious elite.

The Iranian government had tried to prevent Kothari from visiting Khuzestan [Arabistan], but after two weeks of lobbying by the Special Rapporteur's office, he was allowed to spend just one day in Ahwaz City. A preliminary report by Kothari states that: "Land confiscation and 'confiscation style' purchase of lands by the government seem to disproportionately impact on the land and property of some religious and ethnic minorities." Kothari said the Arabs in Khuzestan [Arabistan] were particularly aggrieved to live in squalor when their province sat on most of Iran's gigantic oil fields.

Housing and land ownership is a major political issue for ethnic minorities, such as the Ahwazi Arabs. Land confiscation and ethnic restructuring has led to a series of demonstrations by Ahwazi Arabs, including an uprising in April which led to the slaughter of more than 150 unarmed Ahwazi men, women and children. The April uprising following the leaking of a letter from President Khatami's office to the international media that outlined plans to reduce the Arab population to around one-third of the province's total population through forced migration and eliminating all traces of Arab culture and language, including names of streets and towns. The letter, signed by former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and written in 1999, suggests a time-frame of 10 years to accomplish the ethnic restructuring programme". 

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