Baloch in Iran: A Struggle for Freedom and Equality
Iran is a multi-national country, with several other major nationalities in addition to the Persians; namely the Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turk, Baloch, Kurd, Lor and Turkmen. These nations constitute more than 50% of Iran's total population, yet they continue to experience cultural, social and political discrimination.
The Iranian centralized government has effectively denied the country's many religious minorities and nationalities their cultural, linguistic, social rights and religious freedom. Thereby creating a system in which non-Persians and non-Shiites are systematically discriminated against. Ethnic and religious minorities, along with women, suffer marginalization and systematic discrimination, as successive governments have ensured their exclusion from power in the constitution.
Since Rohani has become president, human rights violations in non-dominant nationalities regions, has been extended and intensified, particularly in Balochistan
According Human Right and Democracy Activists for Iran, the latest purge in the execution of the Baloch prisoner is regime attempt to counter growing discontent of Baloch people against regimes discriminatory policies, and stop more protests .
The suppression of Baloch in Iran is manifold. One of the grim faces of suppression is physical insecurity, which is manifested by the continued execution of Baloch youth, extra judicial killing, that has become a daily occurrence in Iran.
Extra-judicial killings have been a characteristic of Iranian state policy in national minority regions, especially in Balochistan. This was clearly stated by the head of Mersad, a paramilitary group, who said: "We have not been given orders to arrest and hand over those who carry weapons. On the basis of a directive we have received, we will execute any bandits, wherever we capture them (Ettela'at, 25 February 1998)".
Extra judicial killings are a frequent event. In the recent month more than more 30 innocent Baloch has been killed by Iranian security forces fire.
Arrest as mean of hostage taking is part of Iran's security forces policies, in Balochistan, people arrested under false charges and are kept as hostages to intimidate and terrorize families and communities.
Baloch people, economic, cultural , social development has deliberately been hindered. Mr. Mahmud Khalatbary, who served as Director General of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), in a discussion with Selig S. Harrison recalled that: "In CENTO, we always assumed that the Baloch would attempt to create their own independent state someday, ..., so it was desirable to keep them as politically weak, disunited, and backward as possible."
Human Rights Watch has documented that "the repression of Balochi language and Baloch culture out of fear that movement for greater Balochistan would endanger the territorial integrity of the Iran predates the Islamic republic. Mohammad Reza Shah had banned the use of the Balochi language and prohibited the wearing of Balochi National dress in schools. The publication of Baloch books and magazines and newspapers was a criminal offense". Human Rights Watch further emphasizes that "the Islamic Republic has done nothing to reverse these trends."
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has further documented the fact that the Baloch populated region has been systematically divided by successive regimes in Tehran to create a demographic imbalance. According to a HRW report from 1997, "The administrative and political districts were arranged so as to avoid the creation of any Balochi majority provinces, thus preventing locally elected officials. Immigration of non-Balochis into the area was encouraged under the Pahlavi state to the extent that almost forty percent of the population of Zahidan are non-Baloch immigrants" . The report further notes that since the mid-1990s, "a systematic plan has been set in motion by the authorities to specify the region by changing the ethnic balance of major Balochi cities such as Zahdan, Iranshahr, Chahbhar and Khash" .
All these suppressive actions are an indication that the Baloch people are struggling to achieve their cultural and national rights. The Baloch people in Iran consider the situation unbearable and they are trying to make changes in the political power to accommodate their aspiration for self rule and shared sovereignty.
To achieve sovereignty and national self determination for the Baloch people, Balochistan Peoples Party is working step by step to build alliances. Our first step was the building of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran. We are working on our next steps are to build a more broad based alliance; to work for a transition to democracy and secularism; and the creation of a federal system based on parity of constituent part.
Our solution calls for a systematic and intensive political dialogue to develop a common agenda; in order to build a broad based democratic opposition committed to democracy, federalism, the allowance for secularism, self determination, sovereignty, gender equality, as well as the freedom of religion and speech.
Such a broad based opposition should make democracy, gender equality, secularism, republican federal system based on parity of constituent part as its ground values. To further the dialog between opposition groups Balochistan people party managed to co-sponsor two conference, one in April 2009 in the European parliament and another one in the Italian Senate in 2010. later it has participate in conferences with the same aim organized by other organizations and institutes.
The Federal structure should put an end to all kind of discrimination against non-dominant nationalities. The commitment should accommodate nationalities right so that it can build their confidence that the new structure will end all discrimination against them based on nationality and religion.
Conference Report on the Alakhbariye TV
The link of the report is available Below:
This Speech was presented at the Conference: THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON "THE CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, IRAN & THE KURDS" Thursday 4th of June 2015 - Room ASP A1E-2 European Parliament, Brussels