Bachelet urges Iran to focus on addressing the water crisis in Khuzestan rather than crushing protestsPublished by Ali on July 27, 2021
International Liberty Association: GENEVA (23 July 2021) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday called on the Iranian authorities to concentrate on taking urgent action to address the chronic water shortage in the province of Khuzestan, rather than using ILA: excessive force and widespread arrests to crush the protests about the situation. “The impact of the devastating water crisis on life, health and prosperity of the people of Khuzestan should be the focus of the Government’s attention, not the protests carried out by people driven to desperation by years of neglect,” said Bachelet. “I am extremely concerned about the deaths and injuries that have occurred over the past week, as well as the widespread arrests and detention.” Khuzestan Province – where a large number of the 5 million inhabitants belong to Iran’s Arab minority – used to be the country’s main and most reliable source of water. However alleged mismanagement over many years, including the diversion of water to other parts of the country, coupled with nationwide droughts, has drained the province of its precious life-saving resource in a manner that has proved to be unsustainable. In recent months, the Karkheh and Zohreh riverbeds in western Khuzestan have dried up, as have the Hoor-al-Azim wetlands (or Hawizeh Marshes). As a result, protests over the water shortage and mismanagement erupted on 15 July in several cities across the province, with protesters including children chanting, “I am thirsty, Water is my right,” along with other calls clearly related to the current crisis. In response, state security forces appear to have reacted with disproportionate force against unarmed and peaceful protesters, leading to the killing of at least four individuals, including one minor, and injuries to several others. Protests have spread over the past week to at least 20 major towns and cities in Khuzestan, with further protests breaking out in support elsewhere in Iran, including in Tehran and Lorestan province.