The Ahwazi people are estimated to number 4.5 million. They live mainly in Khuzestan, which was an autonomous emirate known as Arabistan before it was invaded by the Persian monarch Reza Shah in 1925.
Monarchist rule was followed by the theocratic rule of Ayatollah Khomenei following the 1979. But for the Ahwazis, this did not change the campaign of ethnic cleansing and cultural repression against them and other minority groups in Iran, such as the Kurds, Balochs, Turkmen and Azeris.
Ahwazis have been subjected to forced migration in an effort to "Persianise" Khuzestan. Lands have been confiscated from indigenous Ahwazis and transferred to Persian settlers, who now comprise 30% of the population of Khuzestan. Since the 1979 revolution, over 200,000 hectares of land have been forcibly taken or legally stolen by the government. This scheme is designed to break up and change the ethnic composition and racial mix of the province.
The Iranian authorities do not permit any genuine Arabic newspapers and media in Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan). Ahwazis are excluded from the scene in the mass media. Instead, they forced to experience a systematic campaign of hatred and misrepresentation of indigenous Ahwazi in Iranian media.
Distribution of wealth
The Ahwazi homeland is the most resource-rich region in the Middle East. Producing 90% of Iran's oil, it contains around 8% of the world's oil reserve. Khuzestan is also a major cash crop producer, with its fertile lands producing much of the nation's sugar.
Although the province is the backbone of the Iranian economy, the indigenous Ahwazis live in poverty, without access to basic services. While the illiteracy rate in Iran is about 10%-18%, it is over 60% among Arab men in Khuzestan and even higher for Ahwazi women. In non-industrial rural areas such as Fallahieh (Shadegan), illiteracy among women is close to 100%. Indigenous Ahwazi students drop out of schools at 30% rate at elementary level, 50% at secondary and 70% at high school because they are forced to study the “official language”, Farsi, a language which is not theirs.
The Ahwazi issue is a matter of geopolitical security and stability. The Iranian regime has done its best to keep a lid on any civil uprising by the Ahwazi people by declaring the area a military zone. International observers, including media, are prohibited from entering the region.
In recent years, Iran has intensified the state of siege with massive militarization of Al-Ahwaz. According to the Human Rights Watch Report, "Millions of Land mines remaining from the Iran-Iraq war in the province of Khuzestan kill and maim indigenous inhabitants of Khuzestan in southwestern Iran every day". Ahwazi homelands are now being used to launch terrorist attacks within Iraq, with Iranian-backed groups using Khuzestan to infiltrate the neighbouring Iraqi province of Basra to carry out assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.
British Ahwazi Friendship Society stands for:
- The overthrow of fascist and racist theocratic rule
- The demilitarisation of Khuzestan
- The self-determination of the Ahwazi people
- The adoption of a democratic, federal and secular constitution for Iran
- Peaceful, non-violent resistance to the Iranian regime
- Recognition of Iran's multi-ethnic and multi-faith society
- The unity and equality of all Iran's minorities: Persians, Ahwazis, Kurds, Azeris, Balochs, Turkmen, Turks, Sunnis, Shias, Atheists, Jews, Christians, Bahais, etc.
- Education and support for Ahwazi refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
- Support for Al-Ahwaz TV, the world's only Ahwazi satellite channel
We are interested to hear from anyone who supports these aims. Please visit our website: www.ahwaz.org.uk