Residents of the southern Iranian city of Borazjan have blocked the main road leading into the city as part of a protest over water shortages, state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) reports.
“On Sunday morning, July 22, several residents of Borazjan held rallies in the city center to protest the shortage of water,” the provincial representative to the Supreme Council of Provinces, Ali Akbar Fatemi, told ILNA, adding that “security forces stepped in to disperse the demonstrators.”
Protesters, according to Fatemi, set off a huge blaze at the city’s point-of-entry and disrupted the traffic for half an hour before the governor, police, and authorities affiliated with the city’s water and sewage department stepped in and restored order.
The county deputy for political and social affairs, Javad Loqmanzadeh, said peace and order was restored after protestors cooperated with the authorities, who promised to meet their demands.
A provincial official in Borazjan has admitted that since the beginning of the spring the water supply to the area has decreased by 30,000 cubic meters daily. There are reports alleging the drop in supply is due to misuse of the water by influential agricultural land owners.
Based on local reports, the taps in Borazjan have been dry for several days, and residents blame corruption and mismanagement by local authorities for the water crisis.
Borazjan, the capital of Dashtestan County, has experienced widespread protests against water shortages in recent days.
Thousands of Borazjan residents poured into the streets July 7 to protest water shortages and what they described as the “chaotic” distribution of water.
Chanting slogans against local authorities, the protesters assembled in the city’s main square, where they demanded the governor take action. The governor’s deputy and the city’s Friday prayer leader tried to deliver a speech, but angry protestors forced them to flee.
Footage widely circulated in social media show that despite the presence of hundreds of security forces, the demonstrators did not allow the Friday prayer leader, mid-ranking cleric Hassan Mosleh, to deliver his speech.
Mosleh had earlier called upon the authorities to address the water shortages.
“Either the governor steps in, or we are going to raise hell!” one protester insisted.
Dashtestan’s representative to the parliament, Mohammad Baqir Sa’adat, has accused the county’s authorities of incompetence and procrastination regarding the water crisis, insisting, “The people’s anger is justified. They are even entitled to insult the authorities.”
According to Sa’adat, the water crisis was caused by the recent installation of more than thirty powerful water pumps on a nearby river by the owners of several orchards in the neighboring city of Kazeroon. Sa’adat accused the orchard owners of illegally irrigation their fields at night.
“The governor of Kazeroon, originally from the city’s suburbs, has so far ignored an official order to dismantle the powerful pumps,” Sa’adat maintained.
Meanwhile, the New York based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported, “A civilian who was shot dead by the state security forces during the recent demonstration in Borazjan (Bushehr province in southern Iran) against the city’s water crisis, was identified as Iman Ahmadi.”
The government’s official news agency, IRNA, had earlier confirmed violent clashes between protesters and security forces July 8.
In recent months, people in many cities and agricultural areas have been protesting water shortages and environmental problems in Iran.