Sunday, 4 September 2011

"Azerbaijan rise up and cry out"

 Yesterday, Saturday 3 September, saw yet again thousands of protesters on the streets of Orumieh in the Iranian province of Western Azerbaijan protesting against the inaction of the government to save lake Orumieh (or Urmia), one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world. The protesters were attacked by the regime’s security forces.

Street protest in Orumieh

Lake Orumieh, in Iranian Azerbaijan is the largest lake in the Midlle East and it has lost 60% of its water in recent years. Two weeks ago the Iranian parliament voted against allocating funds to help revive the lake and some members of parliament have suggested that the population around the lake should be re-settled. 

Abandoned shipwreck on Lake Orumieh
Recent protests against the lack of action by the government broke out last Saturday, 27 August, in the provinces of East and West Azerbaijan.

Street protest in Orumieh on 27 August
Yesterday, Saturday 3, saw again thousands of protesters coming out on the streets in Orumieh protesting against the government, shouting "Let's cry and fill Lake Orumieh with our tears,". They were met with a heavy presence of security forces. According to several sources the security forces attacked the protesters using batons, rubber bullets and tear gas. Dozens of people were arrested. 

Arrest of people in Orumieh

A planned protest in Tabriz did not happen due to several arrests and intimidations by security forces. Tabriz has already seen weeks of separate incidents of protests relating to the dying lake. On August 23 football fans shouted anti-government slogans at a football match in relation to the dying lake. The next day, a group of about 30 activists were arrested whilst discussing the state of the lake and having dinner together (during Ramadan). At a first protest in April this year, 70 people were arrested at a protest in Tabriz; many sentenced to lashes and fines.

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