Saturday , 25 September 2021

Sweeping arrests of locals amid water protests in southwest Iran

Iran-HRM – Iran’s IRGC and security forces have rounded up and detained scores of locals amid the ongoing protests over water shortage in Kuzestan Province.

According to activists and local reports, the state security forces arrested several injured protesters from hospitals.

A number of activists who had been previously arrested during the widespread protests in November 2019, are among those arrested.

Many injured protesters are not seeking hospital treatment due to fear of arrests.

The local Khakzadegan Telegram channel identified the names of 350 people who have been arrested.

Reports and amateur videos show a heavy presence of anti-riot police in the past nights. There were local reports of electricity cutoffs in addition to the internet disruptions amid the water protests in southwest Iran.

July 21- Susangerd, SW #Iran
Heavy presence of anti-riot reported in Susangerd which has been an epicenter of #IranProtests in restive Khuzestan province.#خوزستان_تنها_نیست— IRAN HRM (@IranHrm) July 21, 2021

July 23 – Lorestan, W #Iran
IRGC Basij forces are patrolling the streets & on high alert. #Iranprotests over water shortages are continuing for a 9th day despite the regime’s brutal crackdown & internet disturbances. #خوزستان_تشنه_است— IRAN HRM (@IranHrm) July 23, 2021

July 21—Izeh, SW #Iran
Video shows dispatching of security units to quell protests over water shortages.
The state security forces killed or wounded several people during the #IranProtests in Khuzestan.#خوزستان_تنها_نیست— IRAN HRM (@IranHrm) July 21, 2021

Peaceful protests started on July 15 in several cities across southwestern Khuzestan Province over water shortages and mismanagement. In some other cities, such as Lorestan and Isfahan, people took to the streets in support of their Arab compatriots.

Iranian security forces reacted by violently crushing the protests instead of addressing the longstanding water crisis.

Nine protesters were killed in the past nights, and many were injured and detained amid the water protests in southwest Iran.

Local reports say 20-year-old Omid Azarkhush was killed on July 22 in Aligoudarz western Iran. A police official in Lorestan confirmed a 20-year-old was killed, blaming it on “anti-revolutionaries”. He said the young man was killed with pellets used by “anti-revolutionaries.” Pellet shots are usually used by riot police to crack down on protests.

Iranian officials in the past have blamed protesters for the deaths occurring during the violent state-crackdown.

In previous nights, Mostafa Asakereh (Naimavi), Ghassem Naseri (Khozeiri), Meysam Achrash, Hamzeh (Farzad) Fereisat, Mehdi Chanani, Hamid Mojadam (Jokari), Hadi Bahmani were killed in the protests.

Rights chief condemns use of deadly force on water protests in southwest Iran

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the violent suppression by Iranian security forces of protesters demanding action to resolve chronic water shortages in Khuzestan province.

She called on Iranian authorities to “concentrate on taking urgent action to address the chronic water shortage in the province of Khuzestan, rather than using excessive force and widespread arrests to crush the protests about the situation.”

“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 said.

Amnesty International also published a report on July 23 and condemned the use of live ammunition against the unarmed protesters. Amnesty compared the water protests in southwest Iran to the nationwide anti-government protests in November 2019, where over 1500 protesters were killed by security forces.

“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.

“Iran’s authorities have a harrowing track record of using unlawful lethal force. The events unfolding in Khuzestan have chilling echoes of November 2019, when security forces unlawfully killed hundreds of protesters and bystanders but were never held to account. Ending impunity is vital for preventing further bloodshed.”