IRI seen to
be responsible for massive human tragedy in Bam
By Maryam Namazie
January 6, 2004
I am writing on behalf of the Bam Earthquake Emergency
Coordinating Committee (BamEECC)
to raise our unequivocal and continuing concerns regarding the
relief efforts underway in Bam.
From the get go, the BamEECC has called on the generous public,
both in Iran and abroad, to give all in-kind and financial donations
to reputable organisations. We have stressed the fact that no
be given to the Islamic Republic of Iran or its government-run
We have reiterated this call via media broadcasts
in Iran, Europe and North America, including during a live interview
with the BamEECC's
Coordinator on BBC News 24 on January 2, 2004. Our reasoning
behind this call is clear. Reputable international and non-sectarian
organisations are better able and willing to assist the people
On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran is not trusted by the population at large to
spearhead relief and reconstruction efforts because it is rightly seen to
be responsible for the massive human tragedy especially given its utter
neglect in creating adequate housing during its past 25 year rule, its
imposition of desperate poverty, its disregard for people's lives and
safety, poor building methods, lack of proper regulations, as well as its
refusal to heed recommendations made by a series of inquiries following the
1990 earthquake in north-west Iran.
Clearly, the deaths of what is amounting to over 50,000 people in an oil rich country are
not the result of natural causes. In addition to its culpability for the
quake, the government's inadequate, late and chaotic response has exacerbated the
situation; many could still be alive today had the authorities
acted in a timely and responsible manner like governments are supposed to in such situations.
Bam is one more blemish on this government's inability and
unwillingness to intervene on the people's behalf. For
example, the authorities only divulged information on the earthquake
nine hours and only met to address it ten hours after it had occurred. This
was in spite of the fact that the public in Iran had already begun spontaneously
organising to provide all the assistance they could muster.
Messrs. Khatami and Khamenei only visited the site four days after the quake and even
then only to excuse their inadequacies. Moreover, the premature calling
off of Search and Rescue operations, the mishandling of international rescue teams,
including delaying their access, delays in provision
of translation services and the mistreatment of these personnel in some
instances, delays in the offloading of aid from delivery trucks for hours
and even days, the obstruction of aid being delivered by the public who
wanted to bypass the government, the selling of aid in the black market and
so on have all exacerbated the situation and wasted valuable time and
lives. If the regime's callousness was unbeknownst to relief workers
prior to the earthquake, it has become crystal clear from their first hand experiences.
More tragically, the BamEECC has received numerous
reports of people, particularly children, dying as a result of
the cold because vital aid has not reached them in time; many are still awaiting tents, food
and the like ten days after the quake.
To make matters worse, aid is not being given to
women-headed households in many instances; the authorities have expelled
numerous doctors and international aid workers from the area
and are even checking the identification of all those entering Bam in order to further
obstruct the transfer of aid and information on the government's negligence.
The BamEECC reiterates that relief efforts must
be spearheaded and monitored by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in liaison and coordination with reputable international
organisations and institutions such as UNICEF, WHO, Medicins
sans Frontieres as well as local NGOs and the concerned public.
In addition to ensuring that aid reaches survivors, its other crucial tasks
are to provide the public with up-to-date information on the progress of relief
and reconstruction efforts as well as financial accountability
of all monies donated to this effort from governments, organisations and the public.
Moreover, the BamEECC requests an investigation into the following reports
received from various sources in Bam and Iranian newspaper
reports and the action undertaken to stop these forms of abuse:
* The government Baseej and Pasdaran refusal to pull out or assist women who were unveiled.
* Reports that survivors are in some instances being
charged for the medical care they are receiving and families are being charged for burials.
* Women and children are being kidnapped and trafficked.
* Villagers from surrounding villages not hit by
the quake but that are at
risk because they received their supplies from Bam are not receiving
aid. The BamEECC is closely monitoring the situation and will provide
you with up-to-date information on the situation. We await your immediate
Maryam Namazie is Coordinator of the Bam Earthquake Emergency Coordinating
Committee established by well-known Iranian human rights personalities to ensure that
the people of Bam are not forgotten. Committee Members are Maryam Namazie
(Coordinator), Mina Ahadi, Asad Golchini, Bahram Modaresi, Esmail Moloodi, Mehrnoush
Moosavi, Kazem Nikkhah, Fariborz Pooya, Nahid Riyazi, and Halaleh Taheri.
BM Box 8927, London WC1N 3XX, England, Tel: +44 (0) 07719166731, Fax: +44
(0) 870 1351338.
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