Iranwire – Reports from Isfahan indicate martial law has been imposed on the periphery of the Zayanderud river. Friday morning saw a widespread presence of security agents throughout the city, as well as intermittent disruption of the internet and phone lines.
The tightening of restrictions came after locals issued a public call for people to join a fresh demonstration over the local water crisis. Farmers and supporters had planned to hold Friday prayers on the dried-up riverbed.
In the early hours of Friday morning Isfahan Traffic Police also closed all roads on the approach to the Khaju Bridge, a major site of protest in recent weeks. In a statement, the police chief said restrictions would be in place from 5am and any vehicles still in the area by that time would be towed away.
Government forces have also been blocking people from holding prayers near the bridge in the past few days. On Thursday, the governor of Isfahan had claimed “any” rallies in the province on Friday would be “illegal”. Local judicial institutions also warned residents to be wary of “abusive dissidents” and to refrain from participating in “illegal” gatherings.
Members of the agricultural community have held successive waves of protest over water shortages in the province for the last 10 years. The latest round of weekly rallies began on Friday, November 8.
The November protests were initially covered by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. But after other citizens joined the farmers in numbers, a clampdown and media blackout ensued as the government evidently feared losing control of the situation.
Last Friday a thousands-strong protest on the Zayanderud riverbed elicited a brutal response from security forces, with farmers and locals sprayed with tear gas and birdshot. Hospitals in the area reportedly refused to admit some of the injured.
HRANA news agency reports that some 214 people, including 13 children, were arrested during the most recent protests. Iran Human Rights states that about 40 people suffered eye injuries after being struck in the face with metal pellets.