Balochistan sits in Iran's far southeast-a hot, dry, windblasted region stretching out alongside the Indian Ocean and into Pakistan. Sparsely populated, and subject to decades of underinvestment and neglect by the central government, Iranian Balochistan is one of the most
deprived and underdeveloped regions of Iran. With a population standing at around 1.5 to 2 million, the Baloch constitute one of the smaller minority communities in Iran. Putting aside the issue of marginalisation, poverty, and systematic discrimination, the Baloch face immense challenges in holding onto their unique cultural identity in the face of the dominance of Persian culture.
The Baloch language is still largely an oral one, and as a result the publication of Balochi literature remains very limited, with the problem exacerbated by pervasive state suppression and an under-equipped and underfunded education system. Porous land borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan have also allowed for the flourishing of the drugs trade, and the free flow of militants into the region-crises which have been met by an intense militarisation from Tehran, and the deployment of thousands of Iranian soldiers. In the following chapter we'll provide a short history of this fiercely independent region of Iran, explore the extent of its neglect and abuse by the central government, and look at some of the ways that the Baloch have been making use of modern technology to defend their unique linguistic and cultural identity.
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