Demanding Respect for South Azerbaijani Rights in Mitigating Impacts of Humanitarian Crises

The Case of the Qaradagh Earthquake on 11 August 2012

Besides disaster management programs, normally everyone contributes by their sense of duty of care. How commendable! But here I am presenting the case of the Qaradag Earthquake in August 2012, which reflects the failure of Iranian authorities on both accounts.

The legacy of Qaradagh earthquake in South Azerbaijan is as follows:

  1. The government did not send any rescue team immediately.
  2. Rescues mobilised in Urmu, Zengan and other South Azerbaijani cities were banned and rescuers were arrested, e.g. Hesen Demirchi from Tebriz.
  3. Humanitarian helps were not allowed from Turkey and Republic of Azerbaijan.
  4. The death toll was much more than 350.
  5. The damage was much more than $100 Million.
  6. The president failed to express his commiseration.
  7. The Iranian authorities filled the space with misinformation.

Article 25 of Human Rights Declaration addressed the right to a standard housing and social protection. These were cascaded to Article 31 of the Iranian Constitution. So, every victim is entitled to a reasonable lodging and wellbeing. But these were denied to South Azerbaijani victims of Qaradagh Earthquake. These victims were left to their own means and they suffered untold systemic impacts, including:

  1. Conflicting information was issued on death toll and damages to confuse the public. Still we lack accurate information on death toll and damages. The information on remote villages is even sparser.
  2. The progress on the provision for standard housing has been very poor.
  3. Shelters and tents are quite common exposing victims to the elements and hardships.
  4. Animal husbandry is exposed to foot-and-mouth disease. This undermines victims’ subsistence and agricultural products.
  5. Schools are faced with chronic problems and this undermines children’s wellbeing.
  6. Road conditions are deteriorating and health centres falling to primitive conditions.
  7. Private sectors are adversely impacted.
  8. The MP for Verziqan stated recently to Pars News Agency that drinking water to 160 villages has not yet been restored.

This brings us to our recommendations to the Iranian authorities:

  1. Complete housing projects promised to the victims of the Qaradagh earthquake.
  2. Issue independently verified statistics on natural disasters.
  3. Punish publically security agents who prevented humanitarian aid to taken to victims.
  4. Give assurance to the UN that they will never again prevent aids due to duty of care.

Iranian authorities should stop ruling by racial prejudices in South Azerbaijan but be the servant of the citizens.

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