Baloch In Iran A National Question, Nasser Boladai In Iran In A Period Of Arab Protest Movements Symposium, Paris, 14 September, 2012
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BALOCH IN IRAN A NATIONAL QUESTION,
Ladies, gentlemen, on behalf of the Balochistan People's Party and the Baloch nation, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks and profound gratitude. We appreciate the opportunity to share with you and the world a solution, which in our view, would result in solving the plight of our oppressed Baloch and other nations in Iran.
Balochistan, "the country of the Baloch" is presently form part of three territorial states of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan .
Historically, the British occupation of Baloch State of Kalat in 1839 was perhaps the greatest event and turning point in Baloch history. From the very day British forces occupied Kalat, the Baloch destiny changed dramatically. The painful consequences for Baloch were the partition of their land and perpetual occupation by foreign forces.
In 1849, an Iranian army defeated Baloch forces in Kerman and captured Bumpur. The Baloch political status was changed radically in later decades, when in 19th century the British and Persian Empires divided Balochistan into spheres of influences, between the British Empire in India and the Persian Kingdom. The Anglo-Afghan wars and subsequent events in Persia in respect of "the great game" played out between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire further marginalized the Baloch people.
The Baloch Resistance
The Baloch in Western Balochistan have been in constant revolt against the domination by and chauvinistic policy of Iranian governments.
Balochistan in Iran is one of the most strategic areas in the Middle East, South and Central Asia. It has a large coast in the Arab Sea and Persian Gulf; it also borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is the homeland of the Baloch people, with distinct national identity from Persian the dominant nationality in Iran. The Baloch are discriminated against because of their nationality and because they speak a different language than the Persian and majority are none Shiite the regime in practice treat Baloch people as third class citizens. Due to discrimination and the assimilation policy of Iranian regime, Baloch people struggle for cultural economical and political rights.
Instead of accepting the national, cultural and economical rights, the Iranian government has historically consider Baloch demand for cultural, social, political and economical right as a national security problem and a threat to national integrity hence it has militarized Balochistan and pursue a policy of suppression, and marginalization. In the recent years regime has transferred security and governance to Revolutionary Guards in Balochistan.
The cost of the Iranian regimes chauvinistic policies which has been manifested by militarization of Balochistan and in the recent years complete control of Revolutionary Guards over Balochistan has resulted in insecurity in all spheres cultural, economic, social and political life for Baloch people.
ARBITRARY ARREST, TORTURE, JUDICIAL PROCEDURE AND EXECUTION
The death penalty continues to be applied in political cases, where individuals are commonly accused of "enmity against God". In August 2007, Amnesty International noted that a disproportionately large number of executions in Iran that year were of Baloch citizens (50 out of 166).
In addition to many security forces and intelligent agencies, a paramilitary group, ‘Mersad' meaning ambush, which operates under direct order of Iran's supreme leader Khamanei, is also active in Baloch areas. What differentiates this group from others is its licence to kill. They choose their victims randomly, creating a sense of insecurity in Balochistan, especially among young men. For this group the whole of Balochistan has become a hunting ground. It has been responsible for many shootings and beatings in Balochistan.
the head of Mersad, once has said: "We have not been given orders to arrest and hand over those who carry weapons. On the basis of a directive we have received, we will execute any bandits, wherever we capture them (Ettela'at, 25 February 1998)".
Imminent execution of Baloch Political Prisoners
The latest report from Iranian official news and human right organizations indicates that after summarized courts procedure, 8 Baloch political prisoners have been sentences to death. According to "Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran"  they risk imminent execution. Two of the sentenced prisoners were teenagers at the time of their arrest; they were detained by Intelligence service and after enduring months of physical and psychological torture by interrogators from the Ministry of Information were forced to make televised confessions against themselves.
LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE MEDIA
According to Hamid Reza Haji Babai, the Education Secretary, 70% of students starting school in Iran do not have Farsi as their mother language and do not successfully learn the language after first years in school.52 He expresses concern that this creates inequality and provides for fewer opportunities in competition with Farsi speaking children.
Human Rights Watch has documented that "the repression of Balochi language and Baloch culture out of fear that movement for greater Balochistan would endanger the territorial integrity of the Iran predates the Islamic republic. Mohammad Reza Shah had banned the use of the Balochi language and prohibited the wearing of Balochi National dress in schools. The publication of Balochi books and magazines and newspapers was a criminal offense". Human Rights Watch further emphasises that "the Islamic Republic has done nothing to reverse these trends".
Article 12 of the constitution states: "The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelve Ja'fari School of Thought and this principle shall remain eternally immutable". This explicit endorsement of a school of Shia Islam alienates the Kurds, Turkmen, Baloch, and Ahwazi Arab, who practice Sunni Islam. Tehran has a population of 1 million Sunni Muslims, but planning permission for a Sunni mosque has yet not been granted. Article 115 excludes non-Shias from holding the office of the republic's president.
A widely used practice, which discriminates against ethnic Sunnis and other religious minorities, is "Gozinesh", meaning "selection". Gozinesh is an ideological test requiring candidates for particular governmental jobs to demonstrate allegiance to Shia Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran including the concept of Vilayat-e Faghih (Governance of Religious Jurist), a concept not adhered to by Sunnis. The use of this practice effectively excludes the majority of Baloch, Turkmen and Kurds from employment within the government and, in some cases, within the private sector. Some applicants to universities are also subjected to Gozinesh.
Iranian government has been trying to control Sunni seminars and force them to teach the concept of Valayat Faghi, to emphasis Valayat Faghi as the highest leader of the Muslim World in their teachings. This has been resisted by Sunni teachers in Balochistan, to suppress the religious freedom further, regime have since March 2012 arrested 15 religious activist which have led to protest in Balochistan in which one people was killed, in May 14.
Mahmud Khalatbary, who served as Director General of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), in a discussion with Selig S. Harrison recalled that: "In CENTO, we always assumed that the Baloch would attempt to create their own independent state some day, with Soviet support, so it was desirable to keep them as politically weak, disunited, and backward as possible."
According to the Governor General of the Provincial Social Department in Balochistan in June 2005, the "Sistan-Balochistan province despite of its richness and geographical advantages is the least developed area of the country" .
The Guzenesh process is one of the reason that unemployment among the Baloch youth is very high, while there are competence for the vacant jobs locally in Balochistan government use Guzenesh to exclude Baloch from job and fill the vacancy by none Baloch from other parts, who can pass the Guzinesh.
Human Rights Watch also reported that the Baloch "constitute one of the poorest and least developed communities in Iran" .
POLITICAL REPRESENTATION OF MINORITIES
No Baloch has ever served as a minister of cabinet or as an ambassador. The number of the Baloch in the provincial administration of Balochistan is no more than five percent of the total civil servants. The United Nations Committee on Racial Discrimination "expresses concern at the low level of participation of persons from, Arab, Azeri, Balochi, Kurdish, Baha'i, and certain other communities in public life.
Successive Iranian governments have been engaged in demographic manipulations to systematically reduce the Baloch people to a minority in their own homeland. In its 1997 report on the plight of the Baloch Human Rights Watch stated, ‘the administrative and political districts were arranged so as to avoid the creation of any Balochi majority provinces, thus preventing locally elected officials'; and ‘a systematic plan has been set in motion by the authorities to specify the region by changing the ethnic balance of major Balochi cities such as Zahdan, Iranshahr, Chahbhar and Khash'.
RESOLVING THE BALOCH NATIONALA QUESTION
Balochistan People's Party is a Democratic Party. It struggles to achieve the Baloch people's sovereignty within the federal Democratic Republic in Iran. It has formulated a federal democratic framework which envisages a system based on parity of constituent parts. In which constituents borders within Iran will be redrawn according to the language, history and people's wishes. The new republics will have equal rights in all spheres of power.
To achieve sovereignty and national self determination for the Baloch people, Balochistan Peoples Party is working step by step to build alliances. Our first step was cooperating in the building of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran. The next steps is to build a more broad based alliance; to work for a transition to democracy and secularism; and the creation of a federal system based on parity of constituent parts in Iran.