Shots Fired at Protest as Officials Unable to Ease Water Shortage Crisis in Iran’s Khuzestan Province
Shots were reportedly fired during protests over water shortages in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr in Iran’s Khuzestan Province but the Interior Ministry has denied any fatalities.
Khuzestan, home to mostly ethnic Arabs, is Iran’s main oil producer and contains the country’s largest oil refinery but remains economically disadvantaged compared to northern provinces.
No one died in the clashes; only one person was injured on his side,” Gen. Hossein Zolfaghari, the deputy interior minister in charge of security affairs, told reporters on July 1, 2018.
Zolfaghari added that ten policemen were also injured.
The clashes began on June 29 as people protested going weeks without access to clean water.
Carrying empty canisters, dozens of people at the city’s Friday prayers chanted slogans and carried signs, “They robbed us in the name of religion,” “We don’t need useless officials” and “Your prayers are no good, no good.” In the nearby city of Abadan, where water has also been rationed for several weeks, Friday Prayer Leader Ali Najibi called on the government to urgently install water purifiers.
“The people of Abadan and Khorramshahr are facing a serious water crisis and the government has a duty to allocate a budget to buy water desalination equipment at any price,” Najibi said in a sermon on June 29.
“The citizens of Abadan and Khorramshahr cannot tolerate the water problem any longer and this crisis must come to a final resolution as soon as possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian warned people not to give Israel an excuse to “steal” water from Iran.
“The Zionist regime is using all the latest scientific tools to steal water in the Middle East and we should not let it interfere in our water crisis,” he said at Tehran’s Friday prayer gathering on June 29.