Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters in Iranian city

November 26, 2021
Hundreds of people were protesting in central Iranian cities demanding government action to solve water shortages.
Hundreds of people were protesting in central Iranian cities demanding government action to solve water shortages.

DUBAI — Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people in a central Iranian city who were protesting to demand government action over a drought, the Associated Press reported quoting Iranian media.

Some videos on social media appeared to show police and protesters clashing in the dry bed of the Zayandehrud River. The video corresponded to known features of the area, though original posters of the material could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press. Other videos showed similar unrest in nearby streets of Isfahan.

Tents set up last week by Iranian farmers in a dry river bed in Isfahan, Iran's third-largest city, to protest against water cuts have been set on fire by riot police, and shots could be heard in the area on Thursday.

The site was being "cleaned up" by the city's municipality after the tents were set on fire overnight by Iranian security forces, reports said.

The protest movement started in Isfahan on November 8 and a number of demonstrators set up tents in the dried-up bed of the Zayandehrud River that passes through Isfahan last week.

On Friday, Iranian semi-official Fars news agency said a heavy force brought the gathering of some 500 people in Isfahan to an end.

A separate report carried by semiofficial Tasnim agency said unknown perpetrators had damaged a pipeline that transfer waters from Isfahan to other provinces Thursday night.

Farmers reportedly ended a nearly weeks-long protest after authorities promised to compensate them for losses suffered in drought-stricken areas of central Iran.

Drought has been a problem in Iran for some 30 years, but it has worsened over the past decade, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The Iran Meteorological Organization says that an estimated 97% of the country now faces some level of drought.

In 2012, farmers clashed with police in a town in Isfahan province, breaking a water pipe that diverted some 50 million cubic meters of water a year to a neighboring province. Similar protests have continued sporadically since then. —Agencies

November 26, 2021
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