Iranian security forces shoot dead water shortage protesters in Khuzestan

Iranian security forces shoot dead water shortage protesters in Khuzestan
Iranian security services have shot and killed protesters angry at water shortages and a devastating drought in the country, according to local activists.
3 min read
21 July, 2021
The water shortages are severely affecting agriculture in the Khuzestan Province [Getty]

Several Iranians protesting water shortages in southwestern Iran have been shot dead, following a heavy crackdown by authorities in an Arab-speaking province

Protesters took to the streets angered at severe water shortages, which have led to droughts across Khuzestan Province.

Demonstrations have swelled and now include more robust criticism of the Iranian regime and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Ahwazi activists and local reports have said five people have been shot dead by the Iranian security forces during the water protests.

Many of the rallies are being led by the Arab minority in the oil-rich region, who have long complained of being marginalised and discriminated against by the state. 

Videos uploaded by activists, including from the town of Izh, show protesters chanting slogans such as "Reza Shah bless your soul", in reference to the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, which was ousted from power in 1979. 

Other videos show security forces firing tear gas at protesters.

Two men have been shot dead by the security forces, according to Reuters and local activists, although Tehran has denied the claims.

In one video, a female Arab protester can be heard shouting: "Sir! Sir! The demonstration is peaceful. Why are you shooting? No one took your land and water."

A resident of Mollasani, in Khuzestan Province, described the protests to IranWire: "First they were shooting into the air, but when people refused to leave they attacked them with batons and arrested a number of them. I know at least three of the detainees.

"They were shouting 'We're thirsty! We're thirsty!' But the security forces scattered them by shooting in the air, lobbing teargas and hitting them with their batons or the sticks people had been carrying to dance with. They also arrested a couple of those in front and took them away." 

Protests in solidarity with Khuzestan have also erupted at Tehran's metro system, according to videos shared on social media. 

The footage, reportedly filmed on Tuesday at the Sadeghieh Metro Station, showed people shouting "Down with the Islamic Republic", "Down with Khamenei", and "Down with the guardianship system". Many of the chants were led by women.  

Iranian authorities have also reportedly detained a number of high-profile human rights activists. 

On Thursday afternoon, Narges Mohammadi, deputy director of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was reportedly arrested and beaten by the police.

Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, broke the news on Twitter, adding that several other activists have been arrested.

He later tweeted that his wife and the other detainees had been released. 

These included labour activist Jafar Azimzadeh, human rights lawyer Arash Kaykhosravi, political activist Hamid Assefi, civil rights campaigner Pouran Nazemi, and former political prisoner Ruhollah Mardani. 

IranWire reported they were held due to their alleged involvement in a demonstration in front of the interior ministry.