The Dialogue Institute for Research and Studies (DIRS) is an independent research study institute based in the US capital, Washington DC, which focuses on raising awareness of the plight of the indigenous Ahwazi Arab people of the Ahwaz region of south and southwest Iran.
The DIRS, the first organisation of its kind, is run by members of the Ahwazi diaspora and Western supporters. Our primary objective is to inform the public about the suffering of the indigenous Ahwazi people under successive Iranian regimes through systematic anti-Arab persecution and violations of the people’s social, civic, cultural, political, economic, environmental and human rights correcting decades of misinformation from successive Iranian regimes.
The DIRS aims to share credible, objective facts, figures, statistics and learning materials on Ahwaz, as well as offering expert educational and informative research resources to tell the world about the history of the Ahwazi people and our long struggle for justice, in addition to providing other resources including materials related to other ethnic minorities in Iran, and to Iran’s domestic, regional and international affairs.
The DIRS is also interested in increasing and expanding academic research into the
long-ignored Ahwazi cause and disseminating knowledge and in-depth analysis through all media platforms and using all forms of communication technology; through this multimedia approach, we hope to contribute to increasing the currently limited level of knowledge about all aspects of the Ahwazi cause and people, advancing media exposure and strategic understanding of Ahwaz both domestically and internationally.
DIRS rejects the regressive totalitarian theocracy of the Khomeinists or the brutal, no less regressive and authoritarian monarchy of the Pahlavis. We support a secular multiparty democratic state of ethnic and religious pluralism and diversity for all and believe that genuine democratisation, freedom, and progressive development can be achieved only via establishing decentralised rule via federalism in Iran.
Successive Iranian regimes have massively censored and effectively silenced any accurate reporting of Ahwazi history or of Ahwazis’ and other minorities’ struggle to liberate themselves from this brutal subjugation. This policy, together with a well-orchestrated international media campaign of misrepresentation depicting Iran as a monoethnic state with one language and a shared single racial and cultural identity, enabled Persians, who actually account for less than half of Iran’s population, to impose brutal minority rule on the minorities who are collectively the majority of the population. Meanwhile, any protest at this racist injustice by Ahwazis or other minorities has been falsely depicted as troublemaking extremism, separatism or even terrorism and treason against the Iranian state and leadership.
In reality, Iran’s population is not one people, but multiple peoples, with enforced subjugation leading to a situation where the closest analogy is one of forced marriage to an abusive partner, with resentful minorities and dissidents persecuted and vilified for their non-Persian status and with Ahwazis and the Balochis of southeast Iran being the most cruelly persecuted.
Despite Iranian rulers’ relentless efforts to shamefully misrepresent the Ahwazi cause and to silence, slander, and discredit our voices and those of other brutally subjugated ethnic minorities in Iran, the truth is always stronger than the lies of tyrants, and through DIRS, we aim to help ensure that Ahwazis’ voices will no longer be silenced.
Who We Are
The founders of DIRS are Ahwazi writers, students, human rights activists and exiles from all walks of life, working with fellow supporters of freedom, democracy and human rights from around the world.
We were inspired to found DIRS by the Al-Hiwar (‘Dialogue’) Institute, founded in Ahwaz itself in 2000 to peacefully promote long-denied civil and human rights for the Ahwazi people.
In retaliation for establishing this human rights organisation, the Al Hiwar Institute’s courageous founders were persecuted and imprisoned by the Iranian regime, which executed two of them, Hashem Shabani, a poet and teacher, and Hadi Rshedi, a chemistry teacher, on blatantly fabricated charges in 2013. Other co-founders and members are still serving decades-long prison sentences for no other ‘crime’ but for promoting the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Knowing that they too would be targeted for their human rights activism and jailed or executed, other Al Hiwar members had no option but to flee the country, taking refuge in the UK, Canada and the USA.
In memory of those cruelly executed dissidents and human rights champions and of our colleagues still languishing in prison, Ahwazi writers, students, human rights activists and exiles from every walk of life came together, along with allies around the world, to establish DIRS in an effort to raise broader global awareness and help to bring the cause of Ahwazi freedom, long marginalised and disregarded by the international community and the world’s media, to broader attention.
As victims of racism and persecution, we stringently oppose all forms of racism, sectarianism and other forms of bigotry, standing for universal freedom and human rights, for Ahwazis and all other peoples. Our message is unity, freedom, brotherhood and coexistence, standing alongside other oppressed peoples worldwide to attain the peace, freedom, dignity and fundamental rights that are every human being’s birthright.
The DIRS is fully independent in its establishment, its work and the management of its research activities and pursues a policy of rigorous objectivity and impartiality in the conduct of research, adopting a rigorous and critical analytical approach in its studies.
The Institute provides Ahwazi and other researchers and writers with a platform to present their views on the challenges facing Ahwazis, and other marginalised ethnic minorities in Iran such as Turks, Kurds and Balochis, providing its highly qualified experts with great freedom to express their opinions and supporting their research with the boundaries of objectivity and academic research methods through organising research and intellectual activities in forums, gatherings and academic seminars.
Areas of interest:
- Political and strategic strategies
- Economic and social studies
- Historical and geographical studies
- Cultural and identity studies