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Shahab Naseri

This photograph shows a girl from a nomadic community carrying water to a tent in Bandar Khamir, Iran.

Nomadic peoples with origins in the Indian subcontinent are referred to in the Middle East as “Dom.” Despite their centuries-long presence in Iran, they remain marginalized. They live in isolated communities, are excluded from official statistics, and lack access to education and employment because they are not granted official identity documents.

The Dom are often associated with the Roma, a people of similar origin living throughout Europe. Collectively, these peoples have long been known as “Gypsies,” although this term has come to be viewed by many as pejorative. They suffer from discrimination globally, triggered by what the Council of Europe calls anti-Gypsyism, recognized as a “specific form of racism fuelled by prejudice and stereotypes.” As a result of this discrimination, they are disadvantaged in many areas, including housing, health, employment and education. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has established a working group on Roma in an effort to protect their human rights and improve their status in Europe. While Dom in the Middle East receive some humanitarian support from non-governmental organizations, there has been little action by Iran to improve their status and protect their rights, as required by international law.