July 23, 2021

By Sura Ali

A demonstrator was shot dead and two others injured during “riots” on Thursday night in western Iran’s Lorestan province, according to state television. This comes amid continuing protests in neighboring Khuzestan over a lack of access to water.

The demonstrators were shot by “unknown agents” in the town of Aligudarz, according to the IRIB News Agency.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday that the Iranian authorities used excessive force against protesters in Khuzestan province.

Human Rights News Activist Agency (HRANA) said on Wednesday that at least four civilians and one police officer have been confirmed as killed since the start of the protests, along with mass arrests.

HRW called on Tehran to conduct transparent investigations into at least three deaths that occurred among the demonstrators, and to hold those responsible to account, demanding the Iranian government to address the long-standing problems of access to water.

“Iranian authorities have a very troubling record of responding with bullets to protesters frustrated with mounting economic difficulties and deteriorating living conditions,” said Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Government authorities need to ensure the right to peaceful assembly and stop security forces from using excessive force,” she added.

The protests spread to other provinces inside Iran, in solidarity with the people of Khuzestan, including as Aligudarz in Lorestan, and Shahin Shahr in Isfahan. The Iranian authorities have sent thousands of security forces and special units which have used tear gas bombs and live ammunition against protesters in Khuzestan and Lorestan.

Internet service has been cut off to parts of the country’s southwest, according to Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org.

Several videos shared on social media show security forces shooting toward fleeing protesters.

Khuzestan is home to a large minority of Sunni Arabs, many of whom claim to be discriminated against by the Persian-majority country’s authorities.