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Baluch, Kurds and Azeris joined the protests, asking the regime to stop discriminatory policy towards minorities

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Ahmad Obali, the founder of the Azerbaijani Gunaz TV in Chicago, sees many parallels between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Soviet Union before it collapsed. (Photo: Gunaz.tv)

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Last week, a demonstration took place in Brussels in front of the European Parliament with the support of 10 international and European organizations, protesting against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s repression of the Ahwazi people, who continue their uprising against the mullahs in Tehran. 

Alongside this demonstration, the European Association for the Defense of Minorities, the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, Impact, The Shema Institute, Postversa Albi, the World Hindu Struggle Committee and Nav Bel all wrote a letter to the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, stressing that the EU must do more to support the Ahwazi people.

“As a coalition of human rights organizations, we are writing to express our deep concern about the plight of minorities in Iran and the human rights conditions that non-Iranian peoples witnessed during the last 20 days,” the letter stressed. “In effect, the Ahwazi community did a series of demonstrations following water scarcity. The Iranian regime is suppressing the people’s peaceful demonstrations, which erupted due to the transfer of Ahwaz water to other cities in Iran in order to prompt the Ahwazi people to be thirsty and to displace them from their land.” 

“The Iranian regime started drying up the rivers and the marshes and killing fish and animals to pressure the Ahwazi people to emigrate,” the letter noted. “Ahwazi people are trying to work with the international and human rights institutions by putting pressure on the Iranian regime to respect international human rights conventions and acknowledge their right to have access to water, which is a human right.”

“Unfortunately, these peaceful demonstrations have been met with violence,” the letter stressed.  “The Ahwazi youth have been killed, hundreds were injured and hundreds arrested but the uprising continues. Other non-Iranian populations have joined the movement to support the demands of the Ahwazi people.  Baluch and Kurds as well as Azeris joined the protests, asking the regime to stop its discriminatory policy towards minorities.”

Kazhal Naghshbandi, the Secretary General of the Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Women’s Union Abroad, also spoke out in favor of the Ahwazi protests: “It is obvious for the world that the mullahs` regime started killing, suppressing and executing people especially the minorities among them Kurds from its first days because they are seeking their rights and do not give up. It is undeniable that Kurds in Iran have always been supporting the other minorities confronting the regime. This time the people are protesting to obtain their basic rights such as drinking water and electricity. In retaliation, the dictator’s regime tried to take control of the situation by killing people and some have lost their lives.”

Eskandar Jafari, a Kurdish reporter and human rights activist, added that the Kurds showed their solidarity in different ways with the Ahwaz people inside Iran; Kurdish political parties, individuals, civil activists, and human rights activists were in the field. Although the regime has many armed forces, Jafari noted that “the regime prefers to utilize its proxy militia groups such as Hashad-al-Sha`bi from Iraq to suppress protesters because many of its armed forces refuse to attack people, since they may have family members, relatives or friends among protesters.” He also believes that even the regime refuses to let Kurdish pro-government forces move to Ahwaz, since the regime does not trust these forces and know they don’t desire to suppress the people.

“We show solidarity with the Ahwaz not just for humanitarian reasons,” said Awin Motafazaden, a Kurdish human rights activist. He believes that the protests in Ahwaz is a continuation of the protests in December 2017 and October 2019, which were also against the Islamic Republic of Iran. “The people have reached the common understanding that they are opposed to this dictatorship and that it is the root of their problems.” 

Manel Msalmi is an advisor to the President of the European Association for the Defense of Minorities. He noted that in the West Azerbaijan province, murals now appear “calling to overthrow the Iranian regime and supporting the Ahwaz uprisings in the Turkish language. It seemed that the utilization of the Turkish language with these protesters posters was intended in rejection of the policy of discrimination that has been implemented.” 

Ahmad Obali, the founder of the Azerbaijani Gunaz TV in Chicago, stated in an exclusive interview: “Ten Azerbaijani organizations came out in support of the Ahwaz nation. We called for demonstrations in Azerbaijani cities.” Although the regime tried to stop Azerbaijanis from joining the protests, Obali noted that the regime failed in this: “Now, an Azerbaijan-Ahwaz unity exists.” In the interview, Obali discussed how the minorities in Iran are uniting against the mullahs and how this unity could lead to the creation also of an independent South Azerbaijan: “This is the talk of the day. It is a possibility.”

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According to Obali, “It is not just a question of whether there would be a South Azerbaijan or federal Iran. Right now, there is no hope of there being a legitimate government that would give them anything. In 1945-46, there was a federal South Azerbaijan government. But once the Azerbaijanis gave up their ammunition, Iran took over and executed many.  In 1979, there was also the Tabriz uprising, where the Azerbaijanis called for autonomy and protested against the Supreme Leader. The mullahs used a heavily armed militia against them. Two hundred people were executed.  For this reason, Azerbaijanis in Iran are now mainly calling for independence.”

Obali right now sees many parallels between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Soviet Union before it collapsed and for this reason, he sees the collapse of the mullah’s regime as just a matter of time: “In both cases, the people didn’t want the system; the international community does not want this system anymore; the leaders of the ruling party themselves understood the system was bound to fail; and they lacked a united opposition.” According to Obali, “Iran is exactly the same. There is no one really to lead. The world does not want them. Neither do the people. The system accepted this reality. Thus, the country will disintegrate, as the Ahwaz, Baloch, Azerbaijanis, etc. don’t want Persian rule.”

Obali advised the West to just let this regime collapse: “This will be beneficial to the United States and Israel, as South Azerbaijan supports both countries. Israel is in our hearts. When Israel and Azerbaijan work together, we are happy. This can help to influence positive Turkish-Israeli relations. Additionally, the Ahwaz and the Kurds will support Israel, so both the US and Israel stand to benefit.”

Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, concluded: “We have witnessed for many years Iranian human rights violations towards the Ahwazis and other minorities as the world stands by and is silent. The hypocrisy of many countries has become unbearable. We will not hesitate to sue Iranian officials for the crimes committed by the mullahs’ regime. Ahwazi lives matter, and they got the right to freedom, liberty and stability, while receiving full rights as citizens.”

Safadi calls upon Western countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark “to respect the right of Ahwazi organizations to conduct legitimate opposition activities without being subject to surveillance and punishment and without getting arrested based on unsubstantiated allegations that Iran makes against them in Western countries.”  

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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