Iranwire – Unprecedented protests in Khuzestan over the province’s nightmarish water crisis entered their fifth night on July 18. Protesters gathered outside government buildings and marched in their hundreds through the streets in a number of major cities.
Angry demonstrators amassed outside the governor’s office in the provincial capital of Ahvaz, where the city center also witnessed bigger crowds than on previous nights so far. In Susangerd crowds did the same, chanting: “Shameless governor, resign! Resign!”
Up until now, the security forces of the Islamic Republic had been heavily concentrated in the cities of Susangerd and Shadegan. But clashes also broke out in Ahvaz on Monday night while videos posted online also showed officers firing directly at protesters in Mahshahr.
Women also took part in the marches in larger numbers on Monday night, even squaring up to special forces officers and chanting in their faces.
A number of political figures have thrown their weight behind the ongoing protests in Khuzestan. In a tweet directed at the security forces yesterday, Reza Pahlavi, the country’s last crown prince, said: “You have no right to shoot at peaceful and unarmed people who have taken to the streets. Your duty is to defend the innocent, thirsty people of your country against this anti-patriotic regime and its mercenary agents of suppression.”
A large number of residents in the Alavi and Kut Abdollah neighborhoods of Ahvaz lit fires in the streets last night in a bid to block the officers off. They could be heard chanting in Arabic against the flawed water policies of the Islamic Republic, and in particular the diversion of water from Khuzestan’s rivers to the central regions of Iran.
People in Alavi also reported that riot police had been shooting directly at them. At least three people have been killed by the security forces in Khuzestan since last Friday, according to provincial authorities. Eyewitnesses report that many others have been injured, and in Alavi, demonstrators have responded by throwing stones.
In the major port of Khorramshahr and in Jarahi township, a suburb of Mahshahr, police have also reportedly been shooting at protesters. A source on the ground told IranWire that anti-riot units have used “extreme force” in trying to suppress local unrest. Local sources in Shadegan also say anti-riot units and military sharpshooters have been stationed at the Laleh crossroads, near the city’s main marketplace.
Citizens in some other provinces of Iran have now also taken to the streets in support of the demonstrations in Khuzestan. In one video published online, residents of Khorramabad, the capital of Lorestan, are seen attending a rally. “We must stand united,” the man recording the video says.
Monday’s unrest took place shortly after Khuzestan’s deputy governor for security affairs had told Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency (IRNA) that the protests had “finished”. In the same interview on Monday, though, the governor also threatened people posting footage of the demonstrations on social media, saying they could be arrested for “disturbing the public mind”.