Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Striking Annual Report by Minority Rights Group International: Poor Indigenous Ahwazi Arabs live in one of the most resource-rich region in the world

In its flagship annual publication in June 2012, State ofthe World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012, Minority Rights Group International reveals that despite their land contains 90 of Iran’s oil yet Ahwazis are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing and political participation.

The report says "Ahwazi-Arab minority region of Khuzestan [Arabistan] in Iran, where 90 per cent of the country’s oil revenues originate, minority communities live in poverty and suffer ill health from the pollution by industry of the Karoon River. The river itself is to be diverted to other drier regions, further threatening the economic security of minority farmers and the local ecosystem. Attempts to legislate for 1.5 per cent of oil revenue to go back to Khuzestan have repeatedly failed. Moreover, about 90 per cent of the labour force of oil and gas industries located in this region is hired from outside the Ahwazi-Arab population. These and many other groups therefore suffer the ill-effects of natural resource development without accruing many of the benefits.

These ill-effects are wide ranging. Natural resource development can severely damage or even eradicate practices of traditional livelihoods, including pastoralism, fishing or shifting agriculture, thus pushing groups further into poverty.

 Most of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab community lives in the south-western province of Khuzestan [Arabistan], which borders Iraq and contains 90 per cent of Iran’s oil wells. Ahwazis are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing and political participation. In April 2011, HRW reported that several dozen Ahwazi protesters were killed by security forces during demonstrations over the Ahwazi minority’s grievances over state discrimination and denial of economic and cultural rights. Authorities arrested hundreds, prosecuted them during flawed trials where they had limited or no access to lawyers, and executed several."

On the violations of the ethnic minorities’ rights the report  adds that "In 2011, Iran did not permit Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur assigned with investigating its human rights record, to enter the country. Widespread discrimination against Iranian minorities in both law and practice continued during 2011, according to an Amnesty International report that noted that minorities face land and property confiscations, denial of employment and restrictions on cultural, linguistic and religious rights. In February 2011, MRG published a briefing which noted that the traditional lands of many Iranian minorities (namely Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris, Kurds and Baluch  ) are rich with natural resources and provide large sources of wealth for the Iranian government, but local communities experience high rates of unemployment, poverty and disease because of weak infrastructure and poor government investment."

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