Isfahan Farmers Stage 40+ Day Protest Against Authorities’ Water “Mismanagement”
Hundreds of farmers have been camped out on the eastern and western outskirts of the Iranian city of Isfahan for more than 40 days to protest the authorities’ mismanagement of water resources in the drought-ridden province.
The state-funded Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported that the protests peaked on October 31, 2018, when 1,500 farmers parked their vehicles and tractors along the Zayandeh Rud river that runs through Isfahan.
Photos posted by ILNA showed the protesters holding up signs including, “Today is a day of mourning; agriculture’s [future] is in the air” and “We will die for our water rights.”
Hossein-Mohammad Rezaie, a member of the Farmers Guild of Isfahan union, told ILNA: “Given the scarcity of water in the Zayandeh Rud river and the shortage of rainfall in the region this year, the Energy Ministry decided to release 400 million cubic meters of water stored behind dams in Isfahan Province for farming this fall but the amount water was no more than 160 million cubic meters.”
“The reason for the shortfall was the inability of the officials to prevent excessive usage of the river water by outside and inside the province,” he added.
The farmer continued: “For the past 18 years, the farmers in Isfahan Province have not been able to fully engage in agriculture and they have not been able to do any work for the past two years because of all this mismanagement. They have no other income. Agriculture is their only profession. So they are very angry and upset.”
The October protest marked the sixth mass demonstration by Isfahani farmers and their families since mid-March 2018.
On April 13, the farmers had protested east of the capital near Khorasegan Sq. chanting, “farmers will give their life before accepting humiliation,” “death to the government that deceives the people” and “the enemy is right here; they’re lying when they say he’s in America.”
President Hassan Rouhani had promised to alleviate Isfahan’s water shortage problems during his second-term presidential campaign.
“In the past four years, my government saved Oroumiyeh Lake from drying up and this time it’s Zayandeh Rud’s turn,” he said during a campaign rally in Isfahan on May 14, 2017.
But as indicated by the ongoing protests, the farmers have not seen any improvements.
According to the Iran Meteorological Organization, around 97 percent of the country is experiencing drought to some degree.
Protests over water shortages occurred in various cities in Iran in 2018, including Khorramshahr, Khuzestan Province, where shots were fired at protesters in July 2018.