Thursday, December 9, 2021

Riot police attack water protesters in Iran at midnight

Farmers protesting in Esfahan for water say that after midnight on Thursday security agents and riot police attacked their camp, set fire to their tents, and bulldozed the scene.

Protesters, many of whom have refused to leave their tents for over two weeks, said on social media the attack occurred at 3:00 AM while many other farmers and their supporters were gone. According to these reports, security forces then broke the metal frame of the tents and drove a loader over the site to remove the remains. During the attack, protesters say, security forces shot blanks and tear gas to disperse them.

One of the protesters posted a video report that has been widely circulated on social media and shows a large group of riot police advancing towards the camp in the dry bed of Zayandeh Roud river. The citizen-journalist speaking in the video says protesters have been ordered to leave and alleges that security forces set fire to the protesters’ tents. “We only came here for water,” he says.

Promises of water for Esfahan have fueled protests in Shahr-e Kord, the capital of the neighboring Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province, where people have been also protesting the mismanagement of water in the past four days.

The recent water protests took place as many Iranians marked the second anniversary of the bloody November 2019 unrest. In 2019 protests that quickly spread across the country were heavy-handedly suppressed by the security forces who killed hundreds of unarmed people. After two years, no one has been accountable, and the protesters have been accused of serving foreign interests and destroying property.

State-run broadcaster (IRIB), however, in a report Thursday morning alleged that “opportunists” some of whom were arrested by security forces were responsible for burning the tents. This is a well-known technique of Iran’s plainclothes agents where they destroy public property during peaceful protests to use it as leverage and justify killing unarmed civilians.

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