May 30, 2016
Villagers in rural Ahwaz, already deprived of basic services by the Iranian regime, warn that conditions are worsening as the regime fails to repair aging and broken water pipes, leaving residents without any water in summer temperatures that routinely exceed 40 Celsius.
Speaking to the regime’s official Fars News Agency, Shoja Lattifi, the head of the rural health department in Shush(Susa) city in the region, said that the current water services provided to the surrounding villages are of a sub-zero standard. Lattifi explained that the irrigation networks in the area are malfunctioning severely, with most of the pipes completely out of service. He said that the main pipe carrying drinking water to the village of Esteghlal had burst in two separate places two months ago, massively reducing the water pressure levels and leaving at least 20 households with little or no water at all. He added that despite repeated requests to the relevant regime departments requesting materials and repairs, no action had been taken to rectify the situation, with residents forced to dig wells in order to obtain water, which is brackish and unfit for human consumption. In the meantime, he continued, the original holes in the pipes supplying the village have grown, worsening the already intense water shortages.
The water shortages and resulting sanitation problems in the village which is located in the Shush’sShavoor area of Ahwaz, particularly as the soaring summer temperatures reach their height, have led to many complaints from the residents, more than 100 households.
Another Ahwazi village in the area, Kazim Jabirerat, also faces similar severe water shortages, the official told Fars, adding that, like many villages and rural communities across north of Ahwaz region (also known as Khuzestan province), it has suffered from long-term deprivation and neglect by regime officials.
The problems in these Ahwazi villages are not limited to water shortages, Lattifi told Fars, also extending to basic services like education and healthcare. The endemic poverty in the region and the lack of any high school leads to many children, particularly girls, dropping out of full-time education after completing their primary education.
Hadi Kaab Omer, a senior village official in Kazim Jabirerat interviewed by Fars about the water problems, said that the people of the village had been deprived of potable drinking water for years, with many residents forced to dig ground wells to provide water for themselves and their livestock. Omer added that he and other representatives from the area had repeatedly informed municipality officials in Shosh about the problems, requesting urgent action to be taken to remedy this critical situation which poses potential risks to public health from water-borne diseases contracted from drinking brackish water from ground wells, but had received no response or assistance.
Omer added that another severe problem for the village is the lack of any sort of health centre or clinic in the area to provide basic healthcare services to the 92 households there.
The problems afflicting the villages and rural areas around Shush, also including intermittent electricity services, have led to widespread discontent and unhappiness among the Ahwazi Arab residents, Fars reported, adding that they pose a massive challenge to providing any sustainable rural development.
Unfortunately, these problems are common across Ahwaz region, where deprivation is a norm rather than an exception, despite the fact that over 90 percent of the oil reserves claimed by the Iranian regime are located in the region. Many Ahwazi Arabs feel that the regime’s negligence and discriminatory policies mean they are not viewed as citizens; despite nominally having the same rights granted to all citizens, Ahwazis appear to be denied even the right to have rights.
The world does not bother to observe what goes on to such persecuted people. It seems that the plight of the oppressed and impoverished Arab people of Ahwaz who doomed to live under the Iranian regime’s atrocious oppression does not run counter to the interest, moral and democratic values of the West. Preferably, they start doing business with the theocratic regime at the expense of oppressed ethnic minorities in Iran.The West should stop pretending that they are standing for the right.
Rahim Hamid, Ahwazi freelance journalist and human rights activist.