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Iran says it arrested 25 people protesting water shortages last month

Islamic Republic faces increasing levels of drought contributing to a lack of drinking water and sparking fears of future environmental crises

Iranians gather during a protest to voice their anger after their province's lifeblood river dried up due to drought and diversion, in the central city of Isfahan, on November 19, 2021. (Fatmeh Nasr / ISNA / AFP)
Iranians gather during a protest to voice their anger after their province's lifeblood river dried up due to drought and diversion, in the central city of Isfahan, on November 19, 2021. (Fatmeh Nasr / ISNA / AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran announced Thursday the arrest of 25 people during protests last month against severe water shortages and a lack of response from officials in a western province, local media reported.

“During three illegal gatherings that took place in Hamadan, 25 people were arrested,” the provincial governor was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

Hundreds of Iranians took to the streets in Hamadan province in late August to protest a lack of drinking water, complaining of officials’ inability to resolve the problem.

Parts of Hamadan had been enduring water cuts for eight days, leading protesters to demand the resignation of the governor and of “incompetent officials,” the daily Hamshahri reported at the time.

The state news agency IRNA also reported that demonstrators had shouted “slogans against the officials” and “demanded urgent action to provide drinking water to the city.”

Iran has been facing increasing levels of drought that have caused water shortages and sparked fears of worse environmental crises.

Lake Urmia, the Middle East’s largest lake located in northwest Iran, is at risk of completely drying up if rescue efforts are not prioritized over the needs of farmers, an Iranian environment official said Tuesday.

In mid-July, police arrested several people for “destroying public property and disturbing the security of the population” after they demonstrated against the drying up of the lake.

It was one of a spate of demonstrations in Iran this year against the drying up of rivers and lakes in drought-affected areas of the center and west.

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