Persian Famine of 1917-1918

Persian Famine of 1917-1918 ... 05/05/1918 History, #African, #American, #Anglophile, #Britain, #British, #Calendar, #China, #Egyptian, #French, #Gholi, #Gilan, #Hijri, #Hong_Kong, #India, #Iran, #Iranian, #Iran–United, #Isfahan, #Opium, #Persia, #Persian, #Persian_Famine, #Qom, #State_Department, #Turkmenistan, #US, #United_Kingdom, #United_States

As much as one quarter of the population living in the north of Iran died in Persian The Great Famine. Although the research of Mohammad Gholi Majd alleges as many as 8-10 million killed, this is based on an original population estimate of 19 million. Other estimates place the original population at only 11 million, disputing Majd's numbers. The Iranian government has stated that The Great Famine of Persian was caused by the British (this is disputed, should be seen in context of bad Iran–United Kingdom relations) and that 8-10 million people died, this death toll also being in the American Archives.
As many as 8 to 10 million Iranians perished because of starvation and disease during the great famine of 1917-1919 (1296-1298 Hijri Calendar), making it the greatest calamity in Persia's history. In book of , Mohammad Gholi Majd argues that Persia was the greatest victim of World War One (Great War) and also the victim of possibly the worst genocide of the twentieth century. Using U.S. State Department records, as well as Persian and British sources, Majd describes and documents a veritable holocaust about which practically nothing has been written before.
That virtually no one in the United States, and much of the overall West, would know about the famine in Iran is quite understandable. Britain controlled the news about the war and most of the American elite that shaped the news tended to be Anglophile.
By Kallie Szczepanski
In 1870 - 71, an unfortunate confluence of events caused horrifying famine to break out in Persia (Iran), which left an estimated 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 Persians dead. Although nature's caprices and colonial agricultural policies played some role in the devastation, it was mostly human greed that caused all of this suffering and death. Exactly what or who caused the Great Persian Famine of 1870 - 71?
The underlying cause of the food shortages, as is usual with famines, was drought. In 1869 - 70, essentially no rain fell in eastern and northern Persia. The following year, again, the rains utterly failed, leaving dryland farms withered and even irrigated farms parched, as ground water and river levels sank to record lows. Harvests of wheat and barley, the staple foods of Persia, were low to non-existent in the affected regions.
Some scholars have suggested that the wheat harvest was also negatively impacted by the growth of cash crops - specifically, cotton and opium.
Certainly, the famine struck just five years after the end of the US Civil War, at a time when Asian and Egyptian cotton production was booming to make up for the disappearance of southern American cotton from the market. However, Shoko Okazaki has demonstrated convincingly in "The Great Persian Famine of 1870-71," published in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, that the total acreage devoted to cotton production in Persia was too small to have made much difference in the wheat and barley harvests.
As for opium, again, this is the period directly after the British and French victory in the Second Opium War had left China wide open to foreign opium imports, and some opium was being traded from Persia to Hong Kong. Again, however, total production numbers indicate that the land being used to grow poppies was not a significant percentage of the total crop-land in the famine regions, according to Okazaki.
Nonetheless, as grain grew increasingly hard to find and exorbitantly expensive in Persia's east and north, people began to starve. One factor was the profitable export of grain to British India, which was up to 4,000 tons prior to the famine. Within Persia, fast-growing cities also demanded more and more grain to feed their non-farming populations. By far the largest factor, however, was that when the drought struck, large land-owners decided to hoard their grain and hold out for the highest possible prices. As Briton Oliver St. John reported from Isfahan in 1872, "The great landowners, who are also the great corn-dealers, instigated by love of filthy lucre, or perhaps, as they declared themselves, by fear of a third year of famine, held [their grain stores] for a rise [in price], utterly indifferent to the sufferings around them."
The British consul at Isfahan also reported that the governor of that province was refusing to allow grain to be brought in from near-by cities, because he wanted to get the highest possible price for his own crops. Across the drought-stricken region, high government officials, grain dealers, landlords, and even clergy hoarded grain while the people around them suffered and starved to death.
The suffering was horrendous. Bread prices doubled, tripled, and in some places shot up to twenty times the regular price. By 1871, an average family's income for the year could only buy bread for about six weeks. Bread riots broke out as desperate women tried to find food for their families. Hungry nomads attacked villages, trying to find something to eat. With no pasture land, beasts of burden died of hunger or were killed for food, making transport of any available grain that much more difficult.
As conditions worsened, people fled to the south, where an estimated 30,000 refugees crowded into Gilan. They also moved north into what is now Turkmenistan. The vast majority stayed, however, and began to eat cats, dogs, rats, or grass in a desperate quest for nourishment. In the holy city of Qom, gangs lured people out of the city by promising to sell them food, then killed and ate them instead. Some people reportedly even cannibalized their own children. To add to the misery, a cholera epidemic swept through the already weakened population. Some towns lost up to two-thirds of their inhabitants, who had either died or fled.
When the rains returned in the winter of 1871 - 72, suddenly a huge glut of wheat and barley hit the market. All of the hoarders, who had been holding out for higher prices while 1.5 million of their countrymen and women starved, rushed to sell their hoarded grain. Since Persia had a population of about 6 - 7 million before the famine, these wealthy few had just managed to kill about 25% of their fellow Persians, all in the name of profits.
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