Iran police fire tear gas at water protesters in Isfahan

Iran police fire tear gas at water protesters in Isfahan
Protesters and Iranian police have clashed in the city of Isfahan, as issues of drought continue to plague the region.
2 min read
27 November, 2021
Protesters have blamed the Iranian authorities for the lack of water in the region [Getty]

Iranian security forces fired tear gas as demonstrators threw stones and torched a police motorbike Friday in the city of Isfahan in protest at water shortages, Fars news agency said.

It said some 500 people had gathered in the dry bed of the Zayadneh Rood river that crosses the central city.

Drought is seen as a cause of the river's woes, but farmers also blame the authorities' diversion of water to neighbouring Yazd province.

A Fars journalist said two bulldozers were used to destroy a pipeline taking water from Isfahan province to Yazd.

The Fars agency said three water reservoirs were destroyed and drinking water cut to several cities in Yazd, the news agency said. Repairs needed 48 hours.

Police fired tear gas while demonstrators threw stones in streets near the riverbed.

Some protesters smashed the windows of an ambulance and set fire to a police motorbike and trees, Fars said.

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Another news agency, ISNA, said farmers and authorities struck an agreement Thursday on the distribution of 50 million cubic metres (over 1.6 billion cubic feet) of water.

Despite the deal, it said hundreds of people gathered early Friday in the riverbed following a call on social media by "suspect and counter-revolutionary elements", and clashes ensued. 

There have been almost daily protests in the region of Isfahan, which has been particularly hard-hit by drought.

Thousands converged on Isfahan city last Friday to voice their anger, while more than 1,000 people marched towards the governor's office in the western province of Chahar-Mahal Bakhtiari on Sunday to demand a solution to water shortages, state media reported.

President Ebrahim Raisi met with representatives from the provinces of Isfahan, Yazd and Semnan earlier this month and vowed to resolve water issues.

Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has said the topic is the country's main problem, without making reference to the protests.