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State neglect and ethnic oppression lead to rising suicide rate among young Ahwazis

Date:

Reports received by Ahwazi human rights groups indicate that an Ahwazi Arab young man, Tariq Khalidi, 27 years old, who worked as a security guard at the Mashour Petrochemical Company, committed suicide last week at his workplace due to his poor living conditions and the fact that he had not received his salary for several months. Tariq was married and was a resident of Khalifiya City.

Ahwazis suffer from high unemployment rates, poverty and denial of basic government services. The regime’s abusive and discriminative policies against the Ahwazi people are confirmed by a UN human rights report which noted the existence of blatant discrimination against the indigenous people in the regional oil and gas sector’s labour market – by far the largest employment market in the Ahwaz region —which noted that Persians are appointed to all senior positions, while Ahwazis get only the most menial jobs, with Ahwazis accounting for only five per cent of the oil and gas sector’s workforce in the Ahwaz region.

The dire economic and social situation in Ahwaz has led to frustration among youth, which in turn has led to a rise in rates of suicide. Iranian authorities have been inactive on the issue of suicide, which has seen significant spikes since 2005.

Suicide rates are highest among Ahwazi youth due to persistent violations of their fundamental civil rights by the Iranian regime. This is in addition to the lack of services and the economic and social crises gripping Ahwazi society, the brunt of which is disproportionately borne by young people. There has been an alarmingly consistent correlation between the increase in suicide rates in Ahwaz and the ongoing worsening of government negligence.

The upsurge in suicide is, therefore, clearly a result of the Iranian government’s negligence and heedlessness towards the youth segment of Ahwazi society and the regime’s failure to protect their basic rights, provide job opportunities, or provide the young people with any opportunity to improve their existence.

This is not the first case of suicide among Ahwazi Arab workers; dozens of cases have been reported in recent years – like Ahwazi worker Imran Roshani Moghadam who was working in an oil company in the city of Howeyzeh and committed suicide in the company field on the 10th of June 2020, because of his deteriorating economic situation due to the employer’s failure to pay his salary and dues for months.

Even educated young Ahwazis with degrees in oil and gas and petrochemical areas of study are systemically denied in the employment tests or in their interviews, leaving many young Ahwazis desperately changing their names to hide their Arab identity in the hope they may get hired on their qualifications rather than rejected for who they are.

During an official event on January 2021, Mohsen Haidari, the Ahwaz representative in the Council of “Experts” of the supreme leader in Iran, admitted that Ahwazi Arabs are seriously discriminated against in Ahwaz by Iranian authorities.

Haidari said: “There is an unacceptable level of discrimination against Arabs in Ahwaz. Though Ahwazi Arabs constitute the majority of the population in the Ahwaz region they hold less than 5% of the local management positions. In job interviews, when the interviewers check the identity card of the Ahwazi Arab applicant and realise that the person is Arab, they reject them. Young Ahwazi Arabs have started to change their names to hide their Arab identity in order to get hired.”

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