A view of Zahedan on Sept. 30 2022, when security forces killed more than 80 civilians

A view of Zahedan on Sept. 30 2022, when security forces killed more than 80 civilians

Iran's Baluch Region In Poverty And Under Siege

Friday, 01/20/2023

Ali Khamenei’s representative in Sistan-Baluchestan Province has strongly blamed the Raisi government for the shortcomings in the impoverished and restive region.

Video footage from the December 29 inauguration ceremony of the new governor of the southeastern province, IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Karami, contains parts of a speech by Supreme Leader’s representative Mostafa Mahami, and some lawmakers.

Mahami who also serves as the Shiite Friday Imam in the Sunni majority province capital, Zahedan, is seen in the video criticizing the government of President Ebrahim Raisi for economic hardships resulting from high inflation.

“Is it weakness [of the government], or God forbid, we are facing the mafia [of profiteers], or the ministers and authorities cannot stand against these mafias,” he said.

“I told the president that all governments have craftily made rosy reports, but we need to see the outcome in people’s subsistence,” Mahami said while asking officials to tell him that people’s problems will not be solved by mere “talking therapy” and saying things should happen without taking action.

Mahami also strongly criticized the foreign ministry for failing to resolve the dispute with the Taliban over Iran's share of the waters of Helmand (Hirmand in Persian) and revival of the Afghan-Iranian 1973 water treaty.

Mostafa Mahami, Ali Khamenei's representative in Sistan-Baluchistan

“The foreign ministry has been extremely useless in pursuing Sistan’s share of the waters,” he said. “You rattle sabers for the US but don’t have what it takes to secure your rights from Afghanistan?” he asked.

Tehran has for decades complained about not always receiving its fair share of the water. In 1999, for instance, the Taliban turned off the flow completely. In August 2021, a Taliban spokesman dismissed as "enemy propaganda" reports and a video circulating on social media showing waters flowing from the Kamal Khan Dam towards Iran, insisting the water was not for Iran.

Sistan is the northern, Shiite majority part of the province while Baluchestan refers to the southern, Sunni majority part. The province has suffered heavily from draught and seen hundreds of villages abandoned in the past two decades.

The new governor, Karami, who served as the commander of IRGC Ground Forces in southeastern Iran replaced Hossein Modarres Khiabani following the escalation of protests in the Sunni majority areas and particularly its capital Zahedan.

The Sunni Baluch population have taken to the streets in Zahedan and several other cities of the province every Friday after prayers since September 30 when government forces cracked down on protesters after prayers led by the popular cleric Mowlavi Abdolhamid in Zahedan and killed more than 80 protesters.

This week locals have reported extra heavy security measures in Zahedan including check points on all roads leading to the city and around Makki Mosque where Abdolhamid delivers his fiery speeches every Friday to thousands of Sunnis, presumably in preparation for stopping the flow of worshippers to the mosque this Friday.

In his sermons Abdolhamid has protested to the “mass arrests on the streets” and accused the authorities of torturing detainees until they accept crimes that they never committed. He has also said he holds Khamenei responsible for the violence against Sunni Baluchis and other protesters.

The province, Iran's least developed where around two-thirds of the population live in extreme poverty, is located on a drug trafficking route from neighboring Afghanistan and is known for one of the highest counts of executions in the country which are often related to drug trafficking.

According to Baluch activists one-third of over 500 executions in the country in 2022 involved people of Baluch ethnicity.

G4 Protest Special - Evening (2023)
News (44\')
G4 Protest Special - Evening (2023)

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