Saturday, 25 April 2015

Iran arrests an Ahwazi Arab for challenging supreme leader's representative on widespread unemployment among Arabs

Mahdi Saidawi challenging supreme
leader's representative in Khafajiya  
Iranian plain clothes agents in Khafajiya (Sosangerd in Persian) on Friday, 24 April 2015, arrested, Mahdi Saidawi, in his thirties, for merely challenging  the supreme leader’s representative in khafajiya on discrimination against  Ahwaz Arabs in employment and other issues. 

Mahdi, who holds master’s degree in petroleum engineering, told the representative  about  injustices  and how he and other local fellow Arabs were denied jobs while [non-Arab] workers from far provinces and cities have been easily employed by the authorities.

He was immediately arrested and taken away to an unknown location by the agents who were present there.

Khuzestan’s general governor office on Saturday, 11 April 2015, sacked the Arab mayor of Howeizeh near Khafajiya, Abbas Neisi and replaced him with anti-Arab hardliner Emam-Gholi Zari-Maydani.

Local sources say the new appoint was racially and politically motivated  and Arab Mayor was punished after criticising, high unemployment among local Arabs in the city and the region and urged authorities to do more to tackle the problem by being fair and providing equal opportunities for locals.  Last month Mr. Neisi criticised the Managing Director of National Iranian South Oilfields, Bizhan Alipour for employing mainly non-local workers.

The Howeizeh region is rich in  and agricultural. It,s home to Zadegan, world’s third largest oil field and Kharkhah River. In the two decades Iran deprived local Ahwazi Arabs from their ancestral land by given it to mainly revolutionary Persians guards and Basij Militia force.
According to region’s parliamentarians the unemployment is 35 percent among its small 40,000 population.

During his visit to the region on 20 April 2013 former president Mamoud Ahmdi Nezhad met with angry Arab protester demanding an end to land confiscation and unemployment.

Economic Situation in Al-Ahwaz

"Accordingto the Iranian government, Al-Ahwaz ranks third in Iran’s provinces in terms of GDP, largely due to its oil. The Yadavaran Field, one of the richest oil reserves in Iran, is located in Al-Ahwaz. The field is estimated to have up to 17 billion barrels of oil. In 2009 the Iranian government negotiated a 70 billion dollar deal with the Chinese company, Sinopec, in which the company would hold a 51% stake in the field’s development and the Chinese government would agree to buy 10 million metric tons of natural gas from the Iran. In 2007 development in the Yadavaran Field finally began and it is already estimated to make up to 185,000 barrels per day. However, the benefits of the rich natural resources of Al-Ahwaz do not reach the average Ahwazi citizen.  Ahwazi Arab unemployment rates are officially between 15-20%, and illiteracy is above 50%.  A million of the roughly 4 million Ahwazi Arabs live in urban slums, and more Ahwazi houses are destroyed every year by authorities to make room for government-sponsored business projects.

Several Ahwazi Arab oil and gas workers have also been victims to the discriminatory policies of the Iranian administration. It has been reported that since 2009, the Iranian government started discharging all mid and high level Ahwazi Arabs from oil, gas, petrochemical and steel industries in Khuzestan to further intimidate Arabs and discourage their solidarity with the Kurdish, Baloch Human Rights movements in Tehran. Firings have been reported in several oil, gas, chemical and steel refineries, such as Abadan Petrochemical Complex, Razi Chemical (Bandar Imam Petrochemical), the Ahwaz Steel Plant, Ahwaz Carbon Black Plants and many others.

In addition to oil Al-Ahwaz is known as one of the agriculturally richest regions in Iran. The Karoun River flows directly through the province offering a renewable source of fresh water as well as shipping and trading routes through Iran and into the Persian Gulf. However, one of the greatest threats to the Ahwazi people has been the diversion of the Karoun River by the Iranian government in order to fuel massive oil and factory developments with hydro-electric energy and water. The diversion of the Karoun River has caused massive ecological devastation to the already impoverished countryside as marshlands have been turned into saltwater fields and the land has become desert. The loss of usable agricultural land has led to the severe malnutrition and high infant mortality rates in the Ahwazi population."

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