Herald Middle East

Undue discrimination Against Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Iran an anger brewing beneath the surface which emerges

The role and plight of ethnic minorities in Iranian society tends to receive little attention from Western analysts and policymakers. This may be largely due to the predominance of Tehran as the focal point of Iranian culture, politics, and foreign policy. Moreover, Iran’s ethnic minorities have been heavily marginalized by Iran’s Persian-dominated Shiite theocracy. The suppression of minority rights has resulted in ethnic insurgencies over the years, some of which continue to bedevil the Iranian regime.

Nevertheless, many Iranian intellectuals, have come to view Iran’s ethnic minorities as an inseparable component of the national fabric. They have also come to realize that the Iranian regime’s repression and discrimination against minorities has not only slowed Iran’s advancement, but it could one day jeopardize the survival of the Islamic Republic, and even Iran’s territorial integrity

And while the repression and human rights violations of the Iranian government are well documented, less attention is paid to the specific situation of its ethnic and religious minorities. From hate speech and police intimidation to denial of fundamental rights and opportunities, Iran’s minorities are routinely denied equal access to education, employment, and political participation

Non-Persian ethnic minorities make up roughly 40 to 50 percent of Iran’s population. The main minority groups are Turkish-speaking Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Arabs, Baluch, and smaller populations of Armenians, Turkmen, and Lors. Iranian Turkish speakers, most of whom are Shiites, tend to be closely integrated into Iranian society and politics, although they too suffer some cultural and political discrimination. Kurds and the Baluch are mostly Sunni and thus subjected to the highest level of discrimination by Iran’s Shiite theocracy.

From the time of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941), and mullahs regime the Iranian central government has attempted to mold ethnic minority groups into the state’s vision of an ideal Iranian nation. Reza Shah and mullahs used military might to suppress and subjugate minority groups, banned the writing of non-Persian languages, and made Persian the national language of Iran. The Persianization of Iran continued until now.

Ethnic and religious minorities are vilified, arrested and even executed on account of their beliefs or identity, says a group of human rights organizations in a new report.

The report finds that Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities are frequently subjected to hate speech and police intimidation, and routinely denied fundamental rights and opportunities.

Rights Denied Violations against ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, by Minority Rights Group International (MRG), the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights and the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR), is published in the wake of major clashes between the Iranian authorities and demonstrators from the minority Gonabadi Sufi order, resulting in mass arrests and a some were killed.

The recent crackdown shows that the Iranian authorities continue to view religious minorities as a security threat. ‘The arrest of hundreds of Gonabadi Sufis and intimidation of community members is a violation of their religious freedom and right to peaceful assembly.’

The report finds that members of religious minorities – in particular, the sizeable Bahá’í community – are frequently punished harshly with broad charges of threatening public morality or national security, resulting in long prison terms, and even death sentences.

Prison data shows that at least three-quarters of Iran’s political prisoners are from ethnic minorities. Arabs, Kurds, Azerbaijani Turks and Balochis have been mistreated, targeted on the basis of their identity and sidelined from education, healthcare, and other basic services, according to the rights groups.

Minority-populated regions such as Khuzestan, Kurdistan, and Sistan-Baluchistan are underdeveloped and sidelined, with higher poverty levels and poorer health. These inequalities have contributed to profound discontent and resentment, contributing, in part, to the eruption of large-scale protests at the end of 2017. Significant numbers of demonstrators in minority-populated regions were arrested in connection with the protests.

Iran’s minorities are caught in a vicious cycle of repression,’ says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. ‘They suffer disproportionately high rates of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. Then when they protest, they become specific targets.’

In addition to violating the rights of ethnic minorities, the Iranian regime often ridicules them through television programs and ignores their rights. In February 2014, in a television series, insulted Bakhtiaris, which led to a protest rally.

In November 2015, the regime’s National TV ridiculed the Turks through a movie, which led to the severe street protests in the Turkish city of Tabriz.

Now, a week ago, in the province of Khuzestan, especially Ahwaz, people were involved with government forces for broadcasting a television program that ignored the rights of Arab-Iranian citizens. So far, nearly 100 Arab nationals have been arrested.

The reason why the Iranian regime is trying to weaken the Iranian ethnic minorities is due to its weakness and, on the other hand, It is trying to make them do not unite, which is, of course, due to the weakness of the Iranian regime, and maybe this is becoming a crisis for the Iranian regime. Because the Iranian ethnic minorities are well united against the Iranian regime and they know that they must overthrow the regime to defend the great land of Iran and achieve their human and fundamental rights.

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