The Iranian regime is increasing its pressure on ethnic minorities. Over the past 5 months, since a new round of protests started, Iran’s Baluch and Kurdish citizens are facing some of the worst attacks and violations.
This repression is being mainly implemented by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basij forces. Iran has several minority groups who are mostly based in the provinces near the country’s borders. Iranian Arabs live close to the border of Iraq, Kurds are living in the northwest, known as Iranian Kurdistan, and Baluchis are mostly based in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.
The regime has an infamous history of ethnic grievances. This is further adding fuel to the country’s complexities and current critical situation. The regime’s harsh repression that has been enforced in regions such as Sistan & Baluchestan and Kurdistan is consistently targeted at the deprived people who are making a living by working as fuel and cargo porters. This suggests that the regime is already aware of the critical and explosive situation in these regions.
The regime has forbidden these ethnic groups from educating their children in their native languages and traditions. They are facing severe hardships, including poverty, and poor access to minimum and important livelihood services. The regime is even depriving them of a healthy environment to live in and raise their families.
At present, most of the regions where ethnic groups are based are dealing with catastrophic environmental situations. High air pollution and lack of drinking water are among the shortages. Under such dire circumstances, many of the people in these areas have been forced to leave their homelands and migrate to other parts of the country.
These people are experiencing higher rates of incarceration and execution and the regime often represses them with the excuse of being separatists.
The IRGC has been publicly referring to the arrested minorities in Sistan & Baluchestan as ‘unauthorized foreigners’, as they do not possess birth certificates, which has turned into a tool for harsher repression and discrimination.
This issue has been a long-standing problem in this province and there has been much news about this in the regime’s media, causing extreme difficulties for the people in this region.
On October 23, 2022, the state-run news agency ISNA reported that “according to statistics, about 15 to 20 percent of children in this region do not have birth certificates.”
Citizens of Sistan and Baluchistan province have suffered the most killings and tortures over the last five months of nationwide protests. For various reasons, including difficult access to the Internet, threats to security agencies, etc. news related to murders, arrests, and torture of many Baluch citizens, these events have not even been reported in the media.
Following the provinces of Tehran, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan, Sistan & Baluchistan have had the highest number of arrests and detentions since the beginning of the protests.
So far, the identities of 278 people arrested in Sistan & Baluchistan have been ascertained, of which 47 are children under the age of 18, 20 are students, and 4 are civil activists.
Of the 47 children arrested, three of them have been found to not have birth certificates. The high number of people without birth certificates in this province has made it very difficult to track the situation of these detainees. Without a paper trail to note the identity of these individuals, the regime is able to repress, torture, and execute the people in this region undetected.
Another downside is that people who are arrested without birth certificates, under the pretext of being non-Iranian, are facing the threat of deportation from the country. For example, a Baluch child named Khaled Baranzehi was arrested in December by the regime’s intelligence in Shirabad. The regime announced that Khaled will be soon deported to Afghanistan, despite his residing in Iran for his entire life and not having ties to that country. This is another crime that seems to be unmatched anywhere else in the world.
In connection with this issue, the intelligence services in Sistan and Baluchistan province announced in mid-January that 100 people were arrested in Zahedan, whom they referred to as ‘thugs, armed robbers, illegal migrants’, with the cooperation of the IRGC and the police.