Ahvaz protests over environmental issues continue amidst threatsPublished by International Liberty Association on February 20, 2017
People in the city of Ahvaz, the capital of oil rich south-west-Iran province of Khuzestan, have been demonstrating for 7 consecutive days amidst warnings by state security agents to stop. Residents of Ahvaz are protesting high levels of air pollution as well as severe cuts in water and electricity.
Riot police and troops have been transferred to Ahvaz from neighbouring cities to suppress the protests. The security force of Khuzestan province has issued a warning banning all forms of gatherings and rallies without prior permission. The Iranian regime has also dispatched anti-riot police and the Revolutionary Guards’ Basij militia units from neighbouring Fars Province, to Ahvaz. Internet speed has also been significantly reduced to prevent protesters uploading films and pictures of the demonstrations.
Demonstrators have been calling for resignation of incompetent authorities and an end to scraping Iran’s resources in wars in Yemen and Syria.
Demonstrations in support of the people of Ahvaz have also been staged in various other cities across Iran including in the capital, Tehran.
Because of abusive and misguided measures and projects handled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp, Khuzestan, one of the richest provinces of Iran has been turned into dry land, and in recent days thick dust has covered the cities which prompted the demonstrations on February 13.
The demonstrators raised placards written: “Enough with silence”, “Khuzestan is not alone”, “Khuzestan has no water”, and “Khuzestan has no clear air, help the dying Khuzestan.”
“I’m just a worker and [doctors] had to remove fluid from my chest twice due to the dust filling my lungs,” regime’s media quoted a protester. “My grandchild, wife and I are all suffering from respiratory diseases; when the storm hits the city we have to shut the windows and draw the blinds and can’t leave the house for some days and we feel like prisoners who live in small and dark cells,” said another.
Suffocating dust is reported to be 66 times above acceptable level when the storm hits the city.
Dust storm that provoked protests is seen to
be caused by negligence of officials who have not done anything to control and
reduce the damaging eff
ects of environmentally disastrous projects in the area as well as their acute inattention to infrastructure and environment. Wetlands in the province have dried up due to plundering policies and mismanagement of oil extracting projects in the region.