Tragedy of the Bam Earthquake

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Following the Bam tragedy, the Iranian state launched an international appeal for aid, and in the name of human solidarity the great powers of this world sent in rescue and aid teams. From the accounts of several members of non-government organisations, there was a veritable competition between the aid teams to see who would impose their presence first. Their lack of coordination added further confusion to the chaotic state of the local aid agencies. The television teams from France, Britain and Russia produced some frankly indecent publicity about their own teams of rescuers and sniffer dogs. This tragedy was even the occasion for grand gestures between the US and Iran. Whatever the media might say, the sending of American rescuers was simply a 'humanitarian' mask for imperialist ambitions; the speeches about the purely humanitarian nature of the rescue effort were purely lies. The earthquake provided a good opportunity for the US authorities to make an approach to Iran; the latter has a huge influence on the Shiite community in Iraq, which is currently causing considerable difficulties to the American occupying force. As for the Iranians, they are hoping that the US will rein in the armed Mohajedin opposition it has been supporting against the Tehran regime.

And on top of this cynical use of the earthquake as an opportunity for diplomatic manoeuvres, the grand media show about humanitarian aid has been of short duration. Three weeks after the catastrophe, the various aid teams have departed as quickly as they arrived. The victims, of course, have nowhere to go back to. They are faced with the struggle to survive among the ruins and while the government will be carrying on with its sordid international intrigues, they will only have themselves to rely on.

WR, 30/01/04.