Apr 25, 2007

Ahwaz: Iran’s Dividing Wall

It has been reported that Iran continues to undermine the Ahwaz minority by constructing walls around Arab ghettos, in order to segregate the Ahwaz from wealthy non-Arabs, living on confiscated Ahwaz land.

Below is an extract from an article that was published by Al-Ahwaz news.

The US and Israel have faced international condemnation for the construction of separation walls in the West Bank and Baghdad, but the world continues to turn a blind eye to Iran's construction of walls around Arab ghettoes in Ahwaz.

Separation walls in Ahwaz [...] are designed to segregate the indigenous Arab population from wealthier non-Arab districts built on land confiscated from Arabs. In 2003, the regime bombed hundreds of homes in the Arab populated Sepidar district of Ahwaz City, displacing thousands of indigenous Ahwazi Arabs to make way for homes for ethnic Persians. Ethnically exclusive residential developments such as Shirinshahr and Ramin have been built in recent years to house Persians from Yazd and Fars provinces who have been brought into the area to take up jobs denied to Arabs.

Following a visit to the traditionally Arab province of Khuzestan in July 2005, UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari said that Arab districts endured "very adverse conditions" with "thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections. I think that the kind of question that arises is, why is that? Why have certain groups not benefited?"

He criticised the "attempt being made by the government to build new towns and bring in new people from other provinces", singling out Shirinshah for criticism.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Ahwazi Arabs are constantly demonstrating against the separation walls in their homeland and the creation of ethnically exclusive settlements.

"Iran is enforcing its system of ethnic apartheid by constructing physical barriers. But no-one is listening and there is no media coverage, even when the UN's own experts condemn Iran's actions.

"When the Americans create such barriers in Baghdad for security purposes, there is outrage. When the Iranians create barriers to keep Arabs in their deprived neighbourhoods and prevent social mobility, there is absolute silence from the UN Human Rights Council.