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RFE/RL IRAN REPORT, Vol. 3, No. 42, 6 November 2000

EMERGENCY IN KHUZESTAN.

"The war in Abadan and Khorramshahr has not ended," Abadan Friday Prayer leader Hojatoleslam Qolam Hussein Jami said, adding that "we say there is still a state of emergency in Abadan and Khorramshahr." Jami was discussing problems with the drinking water in Khuzestan Province (which led to riots in late-July and early-August), but other reports suggest that security in the province is problematic, too. What these reports indicate, furthermore, is that government officials are both corrupt and inattentive. Local dailies hope that Khuzestan's new parliamentary representatives will help the province overcome its current difficulties.

Ayatollah Musavi-Jazayeri, the Ahvaz Friday prayer leader, said that crime in the city includes robberies of homes, drug distribution, and even the theft of high tension wires. The bazaar has become a "center of immorality and sedition," and Imam Khomeini Avenue and Ayatollah Taleqani Avenues "have become symbols of anarchy and illegality." Musavi-Jazayeri said that women are in danger, fights and scuffles are a daily occurrence, and trash is not collected. The Friday Imam wanted to know where the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the Basij, and the Headquarters for the Propagation of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice are when they should be eliminating such problems, "Nur-i Khuzestan" reported in August.

The July riots in Abadan over poor water quality should have been foreseen, according to Hojatoleslam Jami, because the locals had been complaining for quite a while that the water was salty. He added that Khuzestan Province officials, from the governor-general down, were unresponsive to public complaints, and he said that if they did not know how to do their jobs, they should "go abroad and bring people from there," "Bahar" reported in July. Contractors used oil tankers to transport drinking water, and Jami suggested that the contractors who were hired to provide water were corrupt. Jami also complained that a sugar beet project, in which the state-run banks are the biggest shareholders, is using up much of the water in Abadan and Khorramshahr and is also polluting the water supply.

Ayatollah Shafii, who represents Khuzestan in the Assembly of Experts, pointed out in a meeting organized by the provincial governor-general that the local administration is not efficient, "Nur-i Khuzestan" reported in May. The provincial agricultural chief said that not only is the drought causing problems, but growers of onions and wheat are facing other (unspecified) difficulties. The demands of local workers are not being met, according to the province's Labor Ministry representative, and there is not enough housing. Governor-General Moqtadai suggested that "if everyone minded his own business...there would be good order in the country. If we do not accept this, any remarks made amount to mere sloganeering."

An August editorial in "Nur-i Khuzestan" said that the province's current difficulties and misperceptions about the province can be traced to its representatives in the first and second parliaments. Factionalism, furthermore, meant that constituents' problems took second place to politics. The publication expressed the hope that the new deputies would not repeat these mistakes, so that Khuzestan Province could achieve its full potential. (Bill Samii)

Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. http://www.rferl.org



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