Iran: Security forces attack peaceful gathering of Isfahan farmers

State security forces stormed the gathering of a large group of Isfahan’s farmers who had gathered at the basin of Zayanedeh Rud river before dawn on Thursday, ransacking their tents and burning their belongings. The farmers, who had been holding rallies for more than two weeks, were demanding fair access to water to irrigate their lands.

Videos obtained from the scene show tents burning and a large contingent of anti-riot forces advancing on the farmers at Pol-e Khaju. Security forces used teargas to disperse the protesters. In the background, authorities are ordering the protesters to go back home. “You have received the resolution you wanted. You’ve been supported. Go home,” the authority said, to which the farmers responded “You’re lying! You’re lying.”


While the security forces were forcibly removing the tents and dispersing the protesters, state media falsely reported that the farmers are calling off their gathering after having reached agreements with the government.

It is worth noting that the protesters had declared that if their demands for access to water were not fulfilled by Thursday, they would hold a huge gathering on Friday. The farmers’ movement has become very popular among the people of the province. On November 19, thousands of people from around the province gathered in the basin of Zayandeh Rud to support the demands of the farmers.

The ongoing protests have also triggered similar movements in the neighboring Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, where protests began on November 21 and are ongoing until today.

The farmers of Isfahan and other provinces have been regularly protesting the deteriorating conditions of the province’s farming industry and water shortages. Farming is among the key economic activities of Isfahan, and with irrigation water becoming scarcer, the livelihoods of millions of people in the province are endangered.

The regime’s policies and destructive projects, including the building of dams without regard to the province’s ecosystem, has resulted in severe ecological problems and damage to the province’s agriculture sector.

In the past weeks, regime officials have made contradictory remarks. Last week, Mohammad Mokhber, the first vice-president of Ebrahim Raisi, told the Isfahan local television, “I have told the energy and agriculture ministers to manage this issue as soon as possible so that we can put these difficult times behind us.” He did not discuss any concrete steps that the government planned to take.

Ironically, the energy minister, who spoke publicly shortly after Mokhber, said, “I am sorry for the farmers, but we are not in a position to provide their water needs.”

According to the orders of the Supreme Water Council and the Council of Coordination for Zayandeh Rud, 74.3 percent of the waters of Zayandeh Rud was to be allocated to farmers and 25.7 percent to the energy ministry and government projects. But in practice, a ruling minority have seized full control of the river’s capacity, leaving a large population of farmers without any means to irrigate their lands.

While the regime tries to blame water shortages on environmental factors, it is well-known fact among Iranians that government projects and policies are the main cause of the drying of Zayandeh Rud and water shortages.

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