A wealthy Iranian foundation, owned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, will destroy hundreds of homes in Hazrat-e Abolfazl Village, near Ahvaz.
The Mostazafan Foundation claims that it owns these lands and told the 300 families living there to leave their homes; ensuring that anyone who stood up to the foundation was arrested.
Their claim was refuted by the village’s Friday Prayer Imam, Seyed Yusef Mousavi, who asked why it was not brought up before.
He told the state-run Mehr News Agency on August 20: “If their claim is true, why didn’t they bring it up before? Why did they wait for 300 families, who have lived here for over 30 years, to build their homes, then remember their claim? These are hard times for the families because of the coronavirus pandemic, the harsh summer heat, as well as unstable economic conditions.”
One villager said that the people living there – mostly farmers, drivers, or construction workers – are too scared to leave their homes because they will be homeless, but that the Foundation has resorted to slumlord tactics by asking the Utilities Organization not to install electricity poles, which has left them without enough electricity to power their air conditioners in the hot and humid weather.
A young man, whose father was arrested, said: “They are arrested like criminals for not leaving their homes… To release them from prison, we have to pay millions (of tomans) for bail. We don’t have any other job or land other than here. How is this treatment fair to us?”
Another local said that arrested villagers were only released if they promised to leave their home
More still advised that they’d been given empty promises about looking into it by the local authorities, with Mehr advising that the authorities were investigating, even though some homes have already been destroyed.
The Deputy Coordinator of Civil Affairs of Khuzestan Governorate said: “We are discussing the issue with the Mostazafan Foundation to reach positive results. There are many informal claims to land in Khuzestan, and these have their own complexities. We will pursue these claims.”
Ahmad Tavakoli implied on August 16 that the Mostazafan Foundation was corrupt, saying that the assets of “the biggest holding company in the Middle East” were used to benefit officials and regime organizations rather than, as originally intended, the poor.
The truth is that these foundations are rooted in corruption because they are exempt from taxes and answer only to Khamenei.