Toronto, April 25, 2015 – Organizations representing various national movements attended the event commemorating 90th year of Al-Ahwaz occupation by Iran in 1925 hosted by Al-Ahwaz Democratic Popular Front (ADPF). Representatives of Al-Ahwaz, South Azerbaijan, Turkoman, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan spoke of the Iranian state atrocities committed against Ahwazi civilians for the last 90 years and the heroic resistance of the people to regain their independence.
The event commenced with the national anthems of Al-Ahwaz and Canada followed by a moment of silence to honour the martyrs of Ahwazi struggle.
Salah Abu Sharif, central leader, ADPF spoke at length on the history of Ahwaz and the political problems related to his homeland and the region due to the expansionist policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mr. Sharif explained about the demographic changes in his homeland as a Persian conspiracy of dominance to turn the local inhabitants into a minority. He mentioned that 90 percent of oil and natural gas of Iran comes from Ahwaz and yet Ahwazis are among the poorest of the Iranian population. “We are losing our cultural identity and mother language – Arabic because of the racist policies of the successive Persian dominant rulers in Tehran” he said.
Speakers representing their respective organizations and nationalities expressed their solidarity with the Ahwazi people in their struggle for their rights and freedom. They condemned the atrocities including public hanging, torture, illegal detentions and human rights abuses of Ahwazis, Kurds, Baloch, and the rest of the civil society members in Iran by the theocratic regime. The role of Iran in the region was presented by the speakers as devastating to peace and stability and a hindrance to resolving conflicts.
Zaffar Baloch, President, Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada):
On behalf of the freedom-loving people of Balochistan, Baloch community in Canada, and the Baloch Human Rights Council of Canada; I would like to congratulate Al-Ahwaz Democratic Popular Front and the people of Ahwaz on their 90th year of uncompromising struggle for their cultural identity and independence from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In April 1925, a peaceful and sovereign Ahwaz was brutally occupied by the Iranian military, changing the cultural, social and economic life of Ahwazi people, turning them into a subjugated minority on their own lands. The natural wealth of the land since then is being plundered by successive regimes in power in Tehran through control over Ahwazi oil, which became the major source of development for the rest of Iran, leaving the inhabitants of Ahwaz under developed and powerless.
In the last many years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has expanded its political and militaristic influence in several parts of the Middle East including Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf countries. Iran also is busy meddling in the local affairs of Yemen that has sparked a new wave of conflict and war in the area. They have successfully negotiated a nuclear deal with the U.S. which is a great concern for the nations in the region.
The nuclear-armed Iran is a great threat to world peace and a source of destabilization with its terror networks growing not only within the country but throughout the region. Recently, the regime publicly hanged close to 80 civilians including Baloch, adding another brutal chapter to their violations of human rights record.
On a similar note, Pakistan is currently engaged in a brutal military operation in the Makuran region of Balochistan. Villages in the Dasht area are being surrounded by the army, houses burned down, 100s of civilians abducted and mutilated bodies of executed missing persons dumped on the location in ‘fake encounters’ and displaying them as militants. Village of Zaren Bug in the Dasht area is the main focus of Pakistan army’s brutalities. The army operation is going on as we speak today.
Yesterday, the Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) target killed Sabeen Mahmud, a leading voice for Baloch and civil rights. She was gunned down by the Pakistani intelligence agents while driving back home with her mother. For the Baloch rights activists, she was a voice for the voiceless Balochistan. People of Balochistan and BHRC (Canada) strongly condemn the military operation in Makuran and the targeted killing of Sabeen Mahmud.
In conclusion, the brutalities of Iranian and Pakistani regimes are unceasing but the resistance against these fascist states is also resilient. Surrender is not an option for those who want nothing less than total freedom from oppression and subjugation.
Long live freedom struggles of the oppressed nations.
A special message was presented to the audience by Zaffar Baloch in honour of the prominent activist and human rights defender, Sabeen Mahmud who was target killed a day earlier by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The audience stood in silence to pay their respects to a brave woman.
I thank my Al-Ahwaz comrades for providing me today with this opportunity to express my thoughts on Sabeen Mahmud and her life of struggle, to become the voice of the silenced masses, especially for the people of Balochistan under Pakistani military occupation. She was a courageous woman who faced life threats for her tireless work on the human rights abuses in Balochistan.
When the Pakistani military intelligence could not stop her through threats, they finally decided to end her life in a hail of bullets. This happened only yesterday in the backdrop of the current military operation ongoing in Balochistan.
Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada) and the Baloch community in Canada strongly condemn the cowardly attack by the Pakistani agents on a woman who became such a great threat to nuclear-armed state. We believe she sacrificed her life for the people of Balochistan. She will forever be remembered by the Baloch nation as a symbol of courage and freedom.
Sabeen Mahmud, may you rest in peace.