Reportedly, more than 300 cities—nearly a fourth of all municipalities—face water shortages and drought. Protests erupted in southwestern Khuzestan province in mid-July and then spread to several other provinces.
It is being said that water shortage was due to governmental mismanagement and neglect. The riots that started from Khuzestan province have now spread across various cities including Tehran, Karaj and Tabriz.
According to the western media, Iranian people are now putting a spotlight not only on their unmet needs, but also their unfulfilled aspirations for respect for human rights, rights to which individuals the world over are entitled.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) sent tens of water tankers to the Dasht-e Azadegan area of Khuzestan, Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour said. “Another group of tankers are on the way and will help to address the people’s water problem. Basij (volunteer forces) and the IRGC, along with the provincial officials, are standing by people with all their power,” he added.
President-elect Ebrahim Raisi expressed concern about Khuzestan’s water crisis and pledged that his government would work to address the problem. “In order not to waste time until the formation of the new government, we convened this meeting to find operational solutions to solve the problems of the province and to implement everything possible from now,” he said in a special meeting on the issues of Khuzestan province.
The US State Department condemned Iran’s crackdown on peaceful protests sparked by a water shortage. “We support the rights of Iranians to peacefully assemble and express themselves, without fear of violence and detention by security forces,” Spokesperson Ned Price said. Following are the excerpts from his narrative.
“We condemn the use of violence against peaceful protestors.
“We support the rights of Iranians to peacefully assemble and express themselves, without fear of violence and detention by security forces. We are also monitoring reports of internet slowdowns in the region.
“The Iranian people have a right to voice their frustrations and hold their government accountable, but we have seen disturbing reports that security forces fired on protesters, resulting in multiple deaths,
“We urge the Iranian government to allow its citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression and to freely access information, including via the Internet. “
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said that the United States supports the rights of Iranians to voice their frustrations and hold their government accountable. She said Washington was closely following reports of internet shutdowns and use of deadly force by security forces.
“We urge the Iranian government to allow its citizens to exercise their universal rights of freedom of expression as well as freely access information online,” she told reporters.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for human rights, called on Iran to address the water crisis and criticized the crackdown on protests. “The impact of the devastating water crisis on life, health and prosperity of the people of Khuzestan should be the focus of the Government’s attention, not the protests carried out by people driven to desperation by years of neglect,” she said.
“I am extremely concerned about the deaths and injuries that have occurred over the past week, as well as the widespread arrests and detention.” Bachelet also warned that “shooting and arresting people will simply add to the anger and desperation.”
Amnesty International reported that security forces had killed at least eight protesters and bystanders in seven different cities since 15th July 15.
Using live ammunition against unarmed protesters posing no imminent threat to life is a horrifying violation of the authorities’ obligation to protect human life.
Protesters in Iran who take to the streets to voice legitimate economic and political grievances face a barrage of gunfire, tear gas, and arrests,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.