Source: Ahwaz Society
February 27, 2006 Author: Ahwaz Society
The Iranian regime is stepping up its land confiscation programme in order to expand Persian settlements in Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan), despite condemnation by the UNCHR and European Parliament last year.
The Shahinshahr and Ramin settlements are the focus of a new wave of land confiscations, in addition to the ethnic cleansing being carried out along the Arvand Free Trade Zone along the Shatt Al-Arab.
The regime is encouraging ethnic Persians to settle on the land confiscated from Ahwazi Arab farmers by placing advertisements in Faris-speaking provinces and cities. The adverts promise cheap fully furnished apartments with all amenities, which is in stark contrast to the squalor of the slums and villages where most Ahwazi Arabs reside.
A number of exclusively Persian settlements have already been built on Ahwazi Arab land, including the Ramin-1 and Ramin-2 townships, Shahinshahr, Shirinshar and Jufir. New Persian townships are being constructed on a daily basis. Similar ones are being built daily.
Some of these settlements were highlighted by Miloon Kothari, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, following a visit to Al-Ahwaz last year (click here for report).
In an interview, Kothari said: "when you visit Ahwaz ... there are thousands of people living with open sewers, no sanitation, no regular access to water, electricity and no gas connections ... why is that? Why have certain groups not benefited? ... Again in Khuzestan, ... we drove outside the city about 20 km and we visited the areas where large development projects are coming up - sugar cane plantations and other projects along the river - and the estimate we received is that between 200,000-250,000 Arab people are being displaced from their villages because of these projects. And the question that comes up in my mind is, why is it that these projects are placed directly on the lands that have been homes for these people for generations? I asked the officials, I asked the people we were with. And there is other land in Khuzestan where projects could have been placed which would have minimised the displacement."