Iran cracks down on mass protests in Ahwaz against municipal electoral fraud

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Iranian security forces forcibly dispersed mass protests in the southern region of Ahwaz on Monday and Tuesday against what people say were electoral fraud in the recent municipal elections.

People came out to protest against what they say was a falsification of the results of the municipal elections for the benefit of the immigrants in the city and at the expense of the Arabs, amid reports of the arrest of a number of activists and use of violence against protesters, including an old man.

This comes while the director of the electoral office in Ahwaz has confirmed that there are indeed false votes in the ballot boxes as a whole, where tens of thousands of votes were copied and thrown in favor of certain candidates, stressing the need to punish all offenders.

According to ISNA news agency, Khon Mirzaee confirmed in an interview with local television in Ahvaz, that there is a re-counting of votes, and that it is possible that the results will be announced on Wednesday. Nevertheless, officials in the Electoral Commission stated that it is likely to cancel all election results due to the size of violations, which included about 70% of the votes.

Arab activists and members of the electoral committees confirmed that the votes have been fixed in favor of the Iranian immigrant candidates and other non-Arab minorities migrating in the city, who are backed by the authorities, while on Saturday, unofficial results showed that the Arab candidates won all 13 seats in the council town of Ahwaz.

The Arab candidates are demanding the cancellation of the preliminary results announced on Sunday, which concluded the victory of 10 candidates of Lurs, Persians and Bakhtiari nationalities compared to only three Arab candidates, even though the Arabs constitute the majority of the population of the city.

The demographic change in Ahwaz

Arab activists believe that falsifying the elections in favor of candidates from the Persians, Lurs and Bakhtiari nationalities and other immigrants in the region, is an extension to the project of demographic change of the city of Ahwaz and other Arab cities in the region.

They assert that while non-Arab minorities dominate the local government, jobs and all decision-making centers in the Arab province, the share of Ahwazi Arabs in official posts is less than 1%. Migrants also want control over the municipal council.

The Rouhani government has put forward the “comprehensive security project for Khuzestan province,” which is a comprehensive security plan aimed at aborting the Arab movement in the Ahwaz region in various ways, including; suppression of political movements, continuation of the plan of demographic change and the displacement of Arabs from their areas of residence and bringing more Persians and non-Arabs from the rest of the provinces and resettling them in the province of Khuzestan, according to the text of the document leaked by human rights organizations.

The project, which will be implemented within five years, from 2014 to 2018, was approved during the meeting of the Higher Committee supervising the implementation of the project in the Supreme Council of the Iranian National Security, on 27th April 2014, headed by Abdul Reza Rahmani Fadhli, the Iranian Interior Minister in Hassan Rouhani’s government.

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