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Unrest Spreads In Khuzestan Over Fresh Water Scarcity

Online videos appear to show Iranian protests and demonstrations over water has continued in other cities of Khuzestan province.

Protests continued in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province on Monday July 2, in support of protesters in the port city of Khorramshahr.

In the past few days, hundreds took to the streets in Khorramshahr protesting the government inaction about the quality of water in that city.

There have been reports of protest gatherings in Ahvaz, Mahshahr and Sarbandar, as well as of clashes in Abadan, where Iran’s largest oil refinery is located.

The government on Sunday denied reports of one man being killed when security forces opened fire in Khorramshahr Saturday night, but admitted 11 have been injured, some seriously.

As protests usually flare up in the evenings and at night, it is still not clear if incidents happened today, July 2.

Videos published on social media show protest gatherings also in the provincial capital Ahvaz in support of the people of Khorramshahr, however, Radio Farda cannot verify their geolocation, or the time when they were filmed.

Official news agency IRNA reported that late on Sunday night demonstrators chanted “critical slogans” in Abadan; euphemism for slogans against the government and top state officials.

“The police attempted to disperse demonstrators in Abadan, but they fought back by throwing pieces of rocks and wood at the police,” IRNA reported.

Meanwhile, Ali Sari, MP from Ahvaz, told the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA that some towns and cities in Khuzestan province, especially Khorramshahr and Abadan, suffer from serious water shortage.

Sari told another news agency, ILNA (The Iranian Labor News Agency), “Hundreds of protest gatherings are serious indications that there is something wrong in Khuzestan.”

Some of the videos released on social media show people chanting slogans in Arabic or complaining in Arabic about their problems, a possible sign that they are frustrated by Iranian officials who have ignored their complaints in Persian. This could be alarming in an ethnically volatile region with mixed Arabic and Persian speaking population.

It is this alarming situation that might have prompted the government to over-react to protests in Khorramshahr, where security forces opened fire at demonstrators and attempted to disperse them by firing tear gas Saturday night.

Videos released on social media also show demonstrators making bonfires to reduce the impact of tear gas.

Water Authority officials in Khorramshahr and Abadan have told the press that that “the water crisis is over,” but the statement is hard to verify as Iran does not allow international reporters to visit the area.

According to social media reports there is a widespread rumor going around in the province about the Iranian government allegedly selling fresh water to foreign countries such as Iraq and Kuwait, but the Iranian government has refuted these reports. According to IRNA, the rumor has flared up dissent and unrest in Khuzestan.

State officials have promised to put fresh water at the people’s disposal within a few days. This comes while media and official in the province say at least 210 people have been poisoned because of drinking polluted water in Ramhormoz region in the southern part of the province.