November 29, 2021

By Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

A U.S.-based news outlet that covers news in Iran says at least 214 people, including 13 minors, were arrested last week in a police crackdown on demonstrators protesting crippling water shortages in the central city of Isfahan.

Thirty people were wounded in the eyes by pellets fired by police officers on November 26, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

Severe drought and water diversions have been blamed for drying up the Zayandehrud River that runs through Isfahan, some 400 kilometers south of Tehran.

This month, the desiccated bed of the river saw rallies drawing at times thousands of demonstrators, as farmers and other have gathered there from across Isfahan Province.

A rally on November 26 escalated into clashes, with security forces firing tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators. Authorities said 67 “rioters” were arrested.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price has said Washington was “deeply concerned about the violent crackdown against peaceful protestors.”

“The people of Iran have a right to voice their frustrations and hold their government accountable,” Price tweeted on November 27.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni has said the water crisis is a top priority for the government.