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The World’s Terrible Silencing of Ahwazis’ Century of Struggle Against Iranian Colonialism

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It quickly became apparent to Iran after Shah Reza’s annexation of Ahwaz that its people would not quietly acquiesce to Persia’s dominion, however brutal and forcefully imposed. This first became evident in the Ahwazi Uprising of 1925 immediately following the announcement of the annexation, in which Sheikh Khazal’s loyal forces, supported by the tribes of Muhammarah and Abadan, led an uprising against the latest colonial usurpers, which rapidly spread across the entire region.  

Despite being massively outnumbered and outgunned by the British-backed Iranian forces, the heroic revolutionaries fought like lions, with the revolt lasting several months. Although the Iranian regime attempted to crush the uprising with land forces, it faced difficulties in entering the hostile rebel territories which held out against the occupation, particularly given the Ahwazis’ superior knowledge of their own lands and the nature of the terrain there, with the region’s massive areas of marshland, date palm orchards and other areas offering plenty of difficult-to-reach areas from which the resistance fighters could launch guerrilla attacks. 

Stymied by the courageous rebels, the Iranian military – not for the last time – adopted a scorched earth policy against its foes, sending in its air force to bomb and raze entire villages housing the rebels, burning down whole hamlets and obliterating agricultural plantations. An Arab writer who interviewed survivors years afterwards recounted their descriptions of the Iranian regime’s attacks on the Ahwazi revolutionaries as a “terrifying massacre”, adding that “thousands of innocent children, women and old men were its victims, in addition to a great number of fighters.” Expressing contempt for the monstrous cruelty and cowardice of the Iranian army’s strategy, the writer stated, “There was, indeed, no equality between the two parties, which enabled the Iranian Army to cause great losses in the souls of Ahwazi revolutionists and their properties.”

This was not the end of Reza Khan’s terrible revenge against the Ahwazi people who dared to rebel against Persia. According to the survivors, “After this Ahwazi armed revolt had been eliminated, the Iranian army arrested 600 of the revolutionary leaders, together with their families and children – a total of 3,500 people – and drove them, in front, on a forced march to Tehran [824 kilometres away], driving them through ranges of high and rough mountains as well as through deep valleys and rivers. Anyone who was exhausted by this dreadful march would be run over by armoured vehicles or be left as prey for wild animals or to die from thirst or starvation.” 

On their arrival in Tehran, according to the survivors interviewed by the same writer, only 80 of the original 3,500 revolutionaries forced on this death march survived.

Although Reza Khan Pahlavi’s forces rapidly and brutally crushed this heroic insurgency, the people’s evident resentment of their oppression unsettled the new Persian occupiers to such an extent that they quickly set about devising strategies of enforced ‘Persianisation’ to subjugate the Ahwazis populace and alter the demographic balance from Ahwazi to Persian, going so far as to change the name of Ahwazi cities, villages and landmarks from Arabic to Persian and enforcing the adoption of Persian culture and the Farsi language. However, despite the determined exertions of successive regimes towards this end for almost a century, these efforts have not yet succeeded.

Following the formation of the modern Iranian nation-state in 1926, which coincided with Reza Khan Pahlavi’s ascent to power, he formed a team of Persian racial theorists, including Foroughi, Mirza Malcom, Akhound Zadeh and Taghi Zadeh, whose think was shaped by the imperialist worldview of that era, by veneration and mythologising of Persian history and by the similarly supremacist nationalist thinkers and ideologies increasingly gaining popularity in Europe at the time. The founders of the modern Persian nation-state shared much in common with the nascent European fascist movement, including the same fetishisation of the supposedly innately ‘superior’ Aryan ethnicity. 

This team was tasked with formulating the foundations of the regime’s ‘Persianisation’ strategy to help to encourage and enforce assimilation of the Ahwazi people as well as of Iran’s other non-Persian oppressed nationalities. A central part of the team’s remit was the dissemination of negative, racist propaganda about Ahwazis; this was achieved so successfully that the policy, like all the worst policies of the Pahlavi monarchy, has been enthusiastically adopted and even expanded by the current theocratic leadership. 

A central part of the ‘Persianisation’ policy adopted by the regime was a demographic transfer project, which would see large numbers of Ahwazis transferred to other areas, to be replaced with ethnically Persian settlers as a means of helping to eradicate the culture and character of Ahwaz whilst enforcing assimilation; similar policies were also introduced in other ethnic groups’ regions. The Persian state began studying this project in 1927. At the request of the leadership in Tehran, local agencies conducted detailed social, political and cultural studies of Ahwaz in order to determine the scale and scope of resources and funds necessary for the project. Finally, after obtaining parliamentary approval for the project, the Persian state issued an official declaration endorsing the project on 30 August 30th 1933. 

In 1936, the year of Sheikh Khazal’s tragic death, still in a regime prison in Tehran, the first official decree was issued in which Shah Pahlavi ordered the resettlement of 4,000 ‘Bakhtiyari and Lor’ families in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in northern Ahwaz. The decree ordered that the state authorities provide the settlers with homes and all the necessary amenities, security guarantees and resources needed for their settlement in the area.

Predictably, this inhuman policy led to unspeakable tragedy; whilst the settlers coming to Ahwaz were provided with every amenity to help them move to the region and given homes there, those homes had been seized from the thousands of Ahwazi tribespeople, who were, by contrast, banished from their homeland and forced at gunpoint by Iranian troops to abandon their homes and possessions in order to walk hundreds of miles often barefoot, without food or water, in a gruelling trek across the Zagros mountain range to be forcibly resettled in the Khorassan region; many died of cold, hunger, and exhaustion during this grotesque death march, with children, women and elderly people being the worst affected.  

The Persianisation policy was promoted through the publication of studies and books depicting a revisionist version of Iranian history in which Iran was not occupying or annexing Ahwaz but simply reclaiming its historical territories after they had been occupied by Arabs – an Orwellian trend of historical revisionism that has continued to the modern-day. In addition to this, the state launched campaigns actively encouraging ethnically Persian Iranians to resettle in Ahwaz, offering various incentives such as relocation bonuses, homes in pleasant settlements and jobs which were withheld from the Ahwazi population – again, this is a trend that continues to the current day. 

The Lor and Bakhtiyar Tribes were particularly favoured by Reza Pahlavi as subjects for mass resettlement in the Ahwaz region for a number of reasons: as pastoral and historically nomadic herdsmen and tribes, they were seen as being amenable to travelling and relocation and given the location of their original homelands, adjacent to Ahwaz they were already familiar with the environment. Their close proximity to Ahwaz also meant that the cost of resettlement would be less than others from further afield in Iran. It should also be mentioned that prior to their resettlement, these nomadic tribes had historically paid taxes to the Arab rulers for seasonal grazing of their livestock in the area, and many saw their new status as favourites of the regime as a sort of ‘payback’ for this.

Various Bakhtiyari figures held senior positions within the Persian state under Shah Reza; the foremost of these was tribal chieftain Jaafar Qaliy Khan Sirdar Bahadur, the defence minister during this era, who played a crucial role in the initial implementation of the project. In 1927, Reza Khan ordered the establishment of a special fund for the project and the construction of villages and settlements to accommodate the resettled tribes.

Also, in 1936, the same year as Sheikh Khazal’s tragic death whilst still imprisoned in Tehran, the regime split Ahwaz between three Iranian provinces, with Arabistan being renamed Khuzestan; this was the first step in a massive program of eradicating Ahwazi history that also included renaming Ahwazi cities, villages and landmarks with Iranian names. This was part of the Iranian leadership’s efforts to eliminate Ahwaz’s Arab nature and essentially expunge its long and proud history as an independent emirate.

All of this paved the way for the popularisation of a virulently anti-Arab culture in Iran, with Ahwazis being collectively demonised and held responsible for all the social and political ills afflicting the country, a racist trope which has continued to the present day. One of the ominous early signs of the new Iranian nation-state’s attitude to Ahwazis was the introduction of a decree outlawing education for Ahwazi children in their own Arabic language, with Farsi henceforth and ever since the only language allowed for education in schools and universities, despite all Iran’s minorities supposedly being entitled to education in their own languages, according to the country’s constitution.

During World War II, Britain again wished to use the region for military purposes. Shah Reza’s objection to Britain’s plans led the then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to coordinate with Russia’s Joseph Stalin in the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, overthrowing Shah Reza and replacing him with his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Thereafter, a British military base was again established in the north of Ahwaz, now known as Khuzestan, although the abuse of Ahwazis by both occupiers, who colluded in their oppression, was largely indistinguishable.

Unsurprisingly in the first days of World War Two, given the modern Iranian nation-state’s own nationalist foundation, despite Nazi attitudes to the racial ‘inferiority’ of Middle Eastern peoples and non-Europeans generally, Shah Reza’s sympathies leaned towards Germany; Iran’s own view of Arabs was, after all, little different. However, a more pragmatic motivation for his pro-Nazi sentiment was that, unlike Great Britain or the Soviet Union, Germany didn’t have a past record of interfering in Iranian domestic affairs or occupying Iranian territory. Moreover, the Shah intended to learn about political management and industrial technology from Nazi Germany, whilst also wishing to reduce trade with the Soviet Union. As a result, by 1940–1941, nearly half of all Iranian imports came from Germany, with 42 per cent of all Iranian exports going to Hitler’s state.

The Persian department of Nazi Germany’s propaganda radio service, Radio Zeesen, meanwhile, aired programs centred on Islamic religious themes, since Nazi race-based anti-Semitism and nationalism didn’t resonate with Iranian audiences. Among the themes of German propaganda was the notion that Hitler was the Shiite Messiah, or Twelfth Imam, who had returned to destroy the Jews and communists. Hitler’s struggle was compared to that of the Prophet Mohammed against the Jews, drawing parallels between chapters from the Quran about Prophet Mohammed’s clashes with Jewish tribes in Arabia to Shi’ite Iranian hostilities toward Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Such efforts to engage the Shi’ia population prompted concerns on the part of the Shah, not because of any moral misgivings, but because he perceived his more secular-oriented regime was being undermined and objected to Hitler being labelled a Messiah.

On 11 September 1941, the British Envoy to Iran, Sir Reader S. Bullard, met with Iran’s Prime Minister, Mohammad-Ali Furuqi, to demand the immediate removal of Reza Shah in favour of his son, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, who was known to be pro-British. Five days later, on 16 September, Reza Shah abdicated and went into exile, leaving his son as Shah. Reza Shah died in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 26 July 1944.

In January 1942, Iran, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain signed a Tripartite Treaty of Alliance. In this agreement, the Allies recognised Iranian territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence, pledging to protect the Iranian economy from the war’s effects. Most importantly, they promised to withdraw from Iranian territory within six months of the war’s end. By the spring of 1942, Iran had cut off all relations with the Axis Powers and had expelled all of their nationals residing in Iran.

Throughout the subsequent decades, the Pahlavi regime attempted to crush any resistance or movement for freedom or civil rights amongst Ahwazis and other non-Persian oppressed nations, viciously subjugating the people and arresting, imprisoning and executing countless Ahwazi intellectuals, activists and campaigners in fear that any political or civil movement for freedom, justice and human rights might lead to renewed calls for self-determination which could loosen Iran’s control over the region’s resources. The Shah’s infamous intelligence arm, the Organisation of Intelligence and National Security, better known by its Farsi acronym SAVAK, was responsible for the detention, torture, and assassination of countless activists and prominent Ahwazi figures, including Mohiuddin Al-Nasser, Dohrab Al-Nasseri and Isa Nassari, the joint leaders of the Arabistan Liberation Front (ALF) who were murdered by its operatives in 1964. 

Revolution for Iran, Continuing Persecution for Ahwaz

 In 1979, after suffering more than a half-century of brutal oppression and institutionalised racist abuse under two generations of the Pahlavi monarchy, many Ahwazis enthusiastically embraced the prospect of a new progressive era as the Khomeinists overthrew the Shah’s despised regime. Many Ahwazis had keenly participated in the revolution, supporting the new Iranian leadership and hoping fervently for some long-withheld freedom and justice. Their faith and optimism rapidly turned to ashes.

In the wake of the Islamic Revolution, the Ahwazi people were eager to express their relief at the fall of the old order and their enthusiastic welcome of Ayatollah Khomeini’s new government, with a delegation of 33 prominent dignitaries visiting Tehran in April 1979 to pay their respects to the new leadership, hoping to open a new chapter of egalitarianism and brotherhood.

The delegates, led by the Ahwazi spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammed Taher Al Shobair Khaghani, represented the entire spectrum of Ahwazi society. With them, they took a number of memoranda, including 12 resolutions on behalf of the Ahwazi people setting out demands for the restitution of their long-denied rights, which were to be presented to the provisional government of the day, which was chaired by Mr Mehdi Bazargan.

By presenting a minimal number of demands for the most basic of rights, as approved by a majority of Ahwazi political and social groups, the delegates hoped that the new interim central government would help the people to finally achieve their legitimate rights. 

A partial list of the delegates’ demands is as follows:

  1. Recognising Ahwazi nationality and ensuring its protection and equal status under the Iranian constitution.2.
  2. The formation of a local committee in the framework of an autonomous territory to allow the Ahwaz population to administer the Ahwazi region in a broadly independent manner. 3.
  3. Recognising Arabic as an official language in Ahwaz and allowing it to be taught at schools and universities, allowing the region to establish its own Arabic-language educational institutions, and allowing opportunities for Ahwazi students to attain scholarships at overseas universities. 
  4. A guarantee of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, allowing the establishment of Arabic-language media publications and independent Arabic-language audiovisual media such as TV and Radio stations, with no imposition of censorship in these areas by the central government. 
  5. Abolition of discrimination in government employment. 
  6. Allocating sufficient funds from the revenues from oil and gas extracted in Ahwazi territories for the development of the region. 
  7. Restoring the cultural and historical identity of the Ahwazi region through the reintroduction of the historical place names which had been changed to Persian ones. 8.
  8. Reviewing and revising the agriculture reform laws and redistributing land in the region based on fair and equitable methods in relations to the rights of ownership among the Ahwazi farmers. During their week in the capital, the delegates attending meetings with the prime minister, some government ministers and political and religious leaders, including Ayatollah Khomeini himself, with the delegation emphasising their full commitment to working within the framework of the Iranian state, renouncing violence and preserving the unity and integrity of the nation. The memoranda drawn up by the delegation showed that they recognised the Iranian government’s full and exclusive authority over all affairs related to military and foreign policy, the monetary system, international treaties, and long-term economic plans.  

The delegates’ great hopes for the new government, which they had optimistically expected would grant the Ahwazi people their long-denied rights, abandoning the injustice and oppression of the Pahlavi era, were quickly dashed, with the Ahwazi dignitaries soon realising that the new rulers were, in truth, little different to their predecessors in their dismissive and openly hostile attitude to the concept of minority rights.

Soon after their return from Tehran, the delegates issued an official statement declaring that the demands of the Ahwazi people for justice and human rights had been trivialised and undermined by the new government. The Ahwazi people, who had set great store in the revolutionary rhetoric of the Khomeinists and their promises to right the cruel injustices of the Pahlavi dynasty, were frustrated and deeply disillusioned at this betrayal, taking to the streets in large-scale peaceful protests to express their anger at what they saw as the duplicity of the new leadership in Tehran. Protesters asserted that while the revolutionary slogans had promised to usher in a just, gentle, mild and tolerant form of rule to replace the Shah’s brutal corruption and they had simply let the people down, making false claims to attain power and showing their true face by sneering at the Ahwazi people’s demands for their rights.

In response to the Ahwazi protests, officials in the new government used what would quickly become their response to any expression of dissatisfaction, accusing the protesters of being part of a regional and global conspiracy to separate Ahwaz from Iran, and issuing a dark warning that the leadership would refuse to deal with any such demands, which the officials claimed threatened the country’s integrity, insisting that the dissidents must be neutralised at any costs to safeguard national wellbeing.  

The true undemocratic, deeply reactionary and strongly nationalist character of the supposedly radical revolutionary new government officials became increasingly apparent very quickly. For example, despite the first president, Seyyed Abolhassan Banisadr’s long exile and studies in France, which was widely admired as a home of revolutionary thinking, freedom and democracy, and regardless of his own history as an advocate of freedom and democracy, he quickly showed a strong degree of authoritarian Persian nationalism, siding with Mehdi Bazargan, the country’s first post-revolution Prime Minister, another former pro-democracy activist who rapidly turned into another ultra-nationalist supporter of oppression, in backing a brutal crackdown on Ahwazi protesters.   

Banisadr’s former idealism and support for freedom and democracy were quickly abandoned after coming to power; in a statement to an Iranian news agency in Paris, he contemptuously dismissed the demonstrations and calls for greater autonomy by Ahwazis and Kurds who were similarly disillusioned at the new leadership in Tehran, saying, “Iran will not grant autonomy to any territory because it simply means the disintegration of the country”.

Bazargan, who had promised the Ahwazi delegation during their negotiations in Tehran that he would submit their demands to the committee then drafting the country’s new constitution, quickly reneged on his promises, saying that “Granting autonomy is, without a doubt, considered to be separatism that threatens national unity.”

Another regime official, Ayatollah Khalkhali, went even further, not just opposing the idea of granting any sort of autonomy to the Ahwazi people, but threatening, “We will cover the Shat-Al- Arab with blood of those pro-autonomous Ahwazis.” 

This was not the prominent cleric’s first or last such hate-filled outburst. In his memoirs, serialised in the Iranian Hamshahri newspaper posthumously following his death in December 2001, his bloodthirstiness and hatred for the Ahwazi and Kurdish populations in Iran were very clear indeed, especially in his explicit confession to murder during the period of the mass executions in the 1980s during which the regime killed tens of thousands of dissidents, with many buried in unmarked mass graves. In one typical section, Ayatollah Khalkhali recalled casually, “I have killed a lot of Ahwazis, Kurds and remnants of the monarchy, but I have no regrets, and my conscience isn’t tormenting me.”

Another official of the new regime, which it rapidly became apparent, was even more vicious than its monarchic predecessor, was Ahmad Madani, the Commander of the Iranian Navy; hailed as a hero by the Iranian leadership for leading the massacre of unarmed Ahwazi protesters in 1979 on a day known ever since in Ahwaz as ‘Black Wednesday’, Madani said, “The Ahwazi Arab are inciting riots, so I will drink their blood if they continue insisting on their illegal demands.”

 After making this statement, he was appointed by the Iranian leadership as military governor of Ahwaz; thereafter by his command, hundreds of Ahwazi civilians were executed by hanging or machine-gunned.

Massacre of Ahwazi people

 Khomeini subsequently issued a Fatwa [decree] deeming Ahwazi civil, political and cultural organisations as seditionary enemies of the state and ordering Madani to execute their leaders and members. Madani more than fulfilled his master’s orders, first deploying Iran’s air and naval forces, assisted by masked volunteer militias, in Ahwaz, Abadan and Muhammarah. Once there, the regime forces ransacked and took control of all the headquarters and offices of the local civil, political and cultural organisations, arresting or simply shooting dead the defenceless leaders and members.  

The arrested activists and campaigners were subjected to kangaroo trials by the regime’s infamous ‘Death Commissions’, which oversaw the state’s murder of tens of thousands of activists across Iran throughout the 1980s before being summarily executed. Mohammed Sadeq Givi Khalkhali, one of the leading regime officials responsible for running the Death Commission in Muhammarah city, was subsequently awarded for his complicity in these crimes against humanity by being appointed as Chief Justice of the regime’s so-called revolutionary courts. Up to his death, he presided over ‘trials’ a few minutes long, sentencing countless innocent people to death.

The news of the occupation of political and cultural centres quickly spread across the region, outraging the long-suffering Ahwazi people; large numbers took to the streets to voice their anger, marching on the occupied buildings in protest. They were confronted by Madani’s heavily armed masked militias, who arbitrarily gunned down the unarmed protesters in the streets.

Madani was lauded and decorated by the regime for his “bravery” in leading these massacres of unarmed civil rights activists and protesters. Months after this bloodbath, he stood for election in the Iranian presidential campaign in his hometown of Kerman. In an apparently well-received campaign speech, he boasted of how he had been present in Ahwaz “at the right time”, bragging of how he had crushed and killed Ahwazi separatists, “weakening their plot and efficiently preventing them from destabilising our country.

This bloody day called the “massacre of the people of Muhammarah” or “Black Wednesday” is commemorated by Ahwazi Arabs every year in honour of those slain. The massacre had far-reaching consequences which impacted the Iran-Iraq war. Following the Muhammarah massacre, the rights of the Ahwazi people continued to be repressed, and its political activists became victims of assassinations and summary executions. Ahwazi families were displaced and forced to leave the country due to security concerns. Many Ahwazi families lost their loved ones in this incident and its aftermath. A multitude of Ahwazi political prisoners in Muhammarah, Abadan, Falahiyeh, Ahwaz and other cities were executed without a fair trial in the dungeons of the Islamic Republic.

 Seizure of the Iranian Embassy in London

Less than a year after the massacre of Muhammarah, at 11:30 am on 30 April 1980, six young Ahwazi men armed with guns stormed the Iranian embassy in London and held 26 people hostage – 18 members of the Iranian embassy and 8 visitors. The Special Air Service (SAS) unit of the British Army and local security forces initiated negotiations with the hostage-takers who turned out to be from the Ahwaz region. The hostage-takers claimed that they carried out this operation in retaliatory protest against the brutal massacre that was carried out in Muhammarah the year before.

 The six young Ahwazi men (named Tawfiq Ibrahim Al-Rashedi, Jassem Alwan, Shaye Hamed AL-Sahar, Abbas Meysam, Makki Hannon, and Fowzi Rafaf) identified themselves as supporters of the “martyr Mohi-ud-Din Al Naser” – one of the iconic Ahwazi leaders who established the “Arabistan Front for the liberation of Ahwaz” and was arrested and executed by the previous Pahlavi regime. In order to secure the safe release of the hostages, the group demanded the release of 90 Ahwazi political prisoners from facilities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. They gave 24 hours for their demands to be fulfilled; otherwise, they threatened they might attempt to kill the hostages. The provisional Iranian government headed by Mehdi Bazargan (with Khomeini as its leader) did not accept the group’s demands and stated that it did not care if all members of the embassy were killed because they would be considered martyrs.

As a sign of goodwill, the group set free six men and women seized in the embassy. Moreover, even though the 24-hour deadline had passed, none of the hostages were killed. It was clear that the hostage-takers only wanted to attract international attention to the previous year’s massacre and secure the release of political prisoners. Tawfiq Ibrahim Al-Rashedi (also known as “Saleem”), the group’s leader and spokesperson, had told the BBC via phone that “we did it [the operation] to the British here to tell the world we want the Iranian government to admit to the existence of the Ahwazi population in the Arabistan/Ahwaz. Therefore, we demand the release of Ahwazi political prisoners and to stop executions of Ahwazis.”

The Iranian regime continued to refuse to negotiate with the hostage-takers. As tensions began to rise, an incident between group leader Tawfiq Ibrahim Al-Rashedi and a hostage named Abbas Lavassani brought the situation to a critical level.

Tawfiq Ibrahim saw a poster on the wall of the press office in the embassy and addressed Lavassani: ‘In this poster, I see Turks, Lors, Baluchis, Persians, Turkmen, and Kurds – all dressed in their traditional garb and showing their national identities with pride. But where are the Ahwazis? Do the Ahwazi people not exist in Iran, or does your government insist on denying their existence?’ Lavassani, who was well known for his support of Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, taunted his captors and continued to do so for days.

After five days of futile negotiations, Tawfiq Ibrahim and his cohort found that neither Iran nor Britain would meet their demands to release the Ahwazi political prisoners in Iran. Instead, the British forces were planning to breach the embassy. It was then that the Ahwazi group decided to execute Abbas Lavassani.

 At 7 pm, on Monday 5 May 1980, the SAS blew out the embassy windows and entered the building. A fierce fire fight between both sides ensued. This resulted in the killing of 4 group members, with the fifth member of the group surrendering himself. Despite the fact that he surrendered, the SAS shot him multiple times, which resulted in his death. The last member of the Ahwazi group, Fowzi Rafraf, was successful in getting out of the embassy building along with the hostages. Fawzi Rafraf was the only surviving member of the hostage-taking group. He was detained and sentenced to life imprisonment.

 The operations carried out by the Ahwazi freedom fighters coincided with the taking over of the American embassy in Iran by a pro-Khomeini extremist group. The latter incident prompted British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to officially issue a kill order to all members of the Ahwazi group who had seized the embassy in London. This was done in order to appease the Islamic Republic and convince the pro-Khomeini extremist group, which was holding American hostages at the same time would to release them.

 After the SAS intentionally killed the five members of the Ahwazi group, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the Iranian President, expressed his thanks and appreciation on behalf of the Supreme Leader to the Queen of England and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for their handling of the incident.

 More than three decades after these events, the British government has not officially released the death tolls and the number of wounded in this incident. To this day, it still refuses to explain why a person named Shaye Hamed AL-Sahar [one of the members of the group of the six-armed men who seized the Iranian Embassy in London] who surrendered himself over to the SAS in the embassy was killed in a shower of bullets. After murdering the five members of this Ahwazi group, Britain once again rushed to the aid of the oppressive Iranian regime – thereby aiding in the silencing of the Ahwazi voice who are, to this day, victims of an ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Iranian regime.

 The dead bodies of the five Ahwazi freedom fighters were secretly buried in a cemetery in London. For thirty years, their place of burial remained secret. But in 2009, a man who worked in the cemetery revealed to exiled Ahwazi activists in London the place of burial of these men who had sacrificed their lives in defence of the Ahwazi identity and homeland. A witness who had participated in the shrouding and burial of their bodies said they were riddled with bullets, and it seemed that each of them were shot more than 20 times. This testimony seems to indicate that the British government’s intent was not to disarm and disable the men during the embassy situation, but rather to kill them. Fowzi Rafaf, the last surviving Ahwazi freedom fighter, was released from prison and allowed to stay in Britain after a reduction to his sentence.

 By Rahim Hamid, an Ahwazi author, freelance journalist and human rights advocate. Hamid tweets under @Samireza42.

 

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