Heavy droughts in Khuzestan in southwest Iran have led to civil unrest and protests that broke out ten days ago.
The droughts are the worst in over a century, hitting agriculture and leading to power blackouts. The area is Iran’s main oil-producing region and the wealthiest of the country’s 31 provinces.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the people to stop protesting.
“The enemy will try to use any tool against the revolution, the nation and the people’s interests, so we must be careful not to give him any pretext,” Khamenei posted on on his official website. “The people have expressed their discontent, but we can’t criticize them for that. The water problem is not a minor one, particularly in Khuzestan’s hot climate.”
Amnesty International claimed that Iranian security services have used excessive force in dealing with protesters, killing up to ten people. At least 100 people have been arrested in the past 10 nights in 30 cities and towns across Iran,
Iran: Security forces use live ammunition and birdshot to crush Khuzestan protests | Amnesty International https://t.co/DxhD7OEz9H
— karim Abdian (@abdian_karim) July 23, 2021
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Friday told Iran to address the chronic water shortage in Khuzestan instead of cracking down on protesters.
“Shooting and arresting people will simply add to the anger and desperation,” she said, adding that the “catastrophic” situation had been building up for many years.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Saturday dismissed Bachelet’s comments as “meddling in its internal affairs. “Her comments on the recent events in Khuzestan (are) regrettable”,Khatibzadeh said, claiming they were based on “false accusations and incorrect information”.
Kuzekhstan is ethnically diverse with fully one-third of its population being Arab who frequently claim they are targeted by prejudice and marginalization.