Ahwazi rights groups worried about the suicide trend; highest rate was among Ahwazis aged 18-25.
Several workers at a sugar processing plant in the Haft Tepe district, located about 15 km south-east of Susa city in the northern Ahwaz region, have attempted to commit suicide by dousing themselves with Benzene and setting themselves on fire. Their colleagues intervened, rescuing them from certain death.
The incident took place after the workers had been laid off from the factory. This work is the only source for them to earn their living.
Security forces in Susa city have arrested the workers who attempted suicide. They are Karim Al-Kathir, Ali Al-Kathir, Yehia Saadi, Hamza al-Kathir and Faris Saadi.
As is usual for protests in Ahwaz, the Iranian media have ignored the incident.
In Abadan, a child killed himself after desperate poverty forced his mother to sell his bicycle. Living in destitution, the bicycle was sold so as to be able to buy bread for the family.
The wave of suicides is widespread; bodies of youth, of both sexes, dead as a result of suicide, have been found throughout the Ahwaz region.
Speaking on the harrowing tallies related to suicide in Ahwaz, Reza Rafiee, the head of an ambulance service in northern Ahwaz, said that six people per week commit suicide in Ahwaz. In other words, in Ahwaz, every 28 hours a person dies from suicide.
Experts familiar with the issue say that the reasons behind these frightening figures are related to political causes and repression by security forces in the region. They also point to the mechanisms used by the Iranian state apparatus to justify shocking brutality against the population.
Based on on-field follow-ups, most of those who have committed suicide are young, unemployed men. They also include high school students. Most are not drug users. The investigations revealed that people were subject to harsh and inhuman treatment by the authorities. They were barred from even earning a living and enjoying their most basic rights, including opportunities to secure a job, lodging, food, water and access to medical care.
The experts also cited several social and psychological factors, including the lack of social support, solitude, rampant poverty and the crushing depression of life in the slums.
Explaining the root causes of suicide, Dr. Youssef Abu-Hamidan, a specialist on behavior, says, “When a person suffers from severe untreated depression, it may lead to suicide. Some are driven to suicide by a sense that the whole society is unjust, and that they confront a conspiracy of repression that targets them.”
Reviewing the near-daily suicides in Ahwaz, it must be noted that the repression the Ahwazis suffer is the work of the Iranian regime. In addition to conscious policies of discrimination, the regime’s policies fuel racism against Arabs. The policies of the Iranian state are clearly aimed at obliterating the Ahwazis, who are deprived of their political, social, economic and cultural rights.
The suicides reflect the conditions of the Ahwaz people. According to an expert in this regard, when an Ahwazi throws himself from a bridge, he wants to turn the world’s attention to his peoples’ plight; he is protesting the dire situation in the region. He wants the world to pay attention to what is happening in his homeland, in particular, the practices of the occupiers against the people.
When an Ahwazi Arab sets fire to himself, he is announcing to the world that there is no way out for his people. The policies of the government have deprived them of access to even their most basic necessities. On the other hand, the same government provides all that the Persian settlers need for them to prolong their stay in Ahwaz. This support is offered consciously to promote the colonization of Ahwaz.
Other experts, on mass suicide, say that this phenomenon is generally a response to political or religious conflicts, in which an oppressor holds all the power. It is done to win support from the public opinion at home and abroad.
Among the factors driving the Ahwazis to despair is the desertification of their homeland. Water is precious, but the Iranian regime has pursued wasteful and reckless development strategies that have poisoned resources. There is no water for agriculture or drinking. This comes as the Iranian state has seized control of the Ahwazi dams, diverting the course of the rivers to the central Persian areas.
In addition, the systematic denial of any type of employment to Ahwazis, even though all oil and gas are in Ahwazi lands, forces Ahwazis to become the poorest people in the wealthiest area. Such contradictions take their toll on the people.
Suicide has become the desperate act of the Ahwazis to express their rejection to the political, socio-economic status quo. It is their way through which they speak out against Iranian policies in their homeland.
Nouri Hamza, Ahwazi journalist and follower of Iranian affairs based in Sweden.