IMHRO was invited by Oxford University to be a guest speaker at a human rights event on 6th November 2008. It was entitled: ‘Poverty and the Human Rights of Minorities in Iran’.
Reza Washahi from IMHRO talked about past and present issues regarding the situation of minorities’ in Iran. Below are extracts from the main topics that were discussed:
The Iranian government deliberately ignores problems that affect minorities. This has resulted in poverty and health problems. It is a crime against humanity to keep certain sections of society hungry and starving.
Elton Daniel in his book ‘The History of Iran’ explained how the name ‘Iran’ was selected: “On March 21, 1935, Iran was officially accepted as the new name of the country. After Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Nazi Economics minister, commented on the Aryan origin of Persians, Reza Shah’s ambassador in Germany encouraged him to issue the above-mentioned decree, asking all foreign delegates to use the word “Iran” (meaning “Land of the Aryans”) instead of “Persia” in formal correspondence.” [The History of Iran, Elton Daniel, p.3] The origin of the name of country reflects on what is happening inside it today.
There is a marked contrast in the affects of the different budgets of cities in Iran. People in Ahwaz in Kurdistan, Baluchistan, and Turkmen and in the Turkish area all lack food and basic medical treatment. Ahwazi Arabs, although living on huge gas and oil reserves, have to eat rubbish as the government has banned them from employment. There is a huge water problem in Ahwaz and Baluchistan. The Iranian government are buildings huge dams and redirecting water from the Arab area in Ahwaz to the Persian area. In Baluchistan the government has deliberately not invested money in supplying water.”
The 8-year war between Iran and Iraq left huge mine fields, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Kurdish and Arab areas. The main victims are always women and children. The Iranian government are doing nothing to help make the situation better; they won’t even sign the Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty.
There are high rates of unemployment and poverty within Iran. These issues have many causes. There are many recent abuses of human rights within Iran; Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand was sentenced to 11 years in prison because he campaigned for Kurdish human rights; Jamila Ka’bi who has five children was deported by the Syrian government to Iran; Turks were arrested for having a peaceful gathering.’
Members of the group explained how the event increased their knowledge of the oppression that religious minorities (such as Bahá’í, Sunnis and Christians) and ethnic minorities suffer in Iran. The event ended with an enthusiastic question and answer session.