Rouhani: Water protesters in Iran have the right to demonstrate | Iran

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Rouhani: Water protesters in Iran have the right to demonstrate | Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that citizens have the right to protest after days of demonstrations against water shortages in Khuzestan province, in which three people were killed.

The southwestern province is the main oil-producing region of Iran, but it has been suffering from severe drought since March.

In a speech broadcast on state television, Rouhani said that the people of Khuzestan “have the right to speak, express themselves, protest and even take to the streets within the framework of regulations.”

At least three people, including a police officer and a protester, were killed, according to Iranian media and officials who accused “opportunists” and “rioters” of shooting at protesters and security forces.

“It is possible that a malicious person will take advantage of the situation, come in the middle of it, use a pistol, shoot and kill one of our dear citizens,” Rouhani said.

Farsi-language media based abroad broadcast videos that it said were protests in several towns and cities, showing hundreds of people marching and chanting slogans against the authorities while surrounded by riot police.

The authenticity of the videos could not be verified

“If there is a problem, I ask the people of Khuzestan to solve it legally,” Rouhani said.

Khuzestan is home to a large Arab minority, and its people regularly complain of marginalization. The province has been a hotspot for anti-government protests that also rocked other regions of Iran in 2019.

Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Secretary-General of the Supreme National Security Council, said Thursday, “The security forces have issued orders to immediately release those arrested during the recent events in Khuzestan who did not commit any criminal act.”

Summer heat waves and seasonal sandstorms from Saudi Arabia and neighboring Iraq have dried up the once-fertile plains of Khuzestan in recent years.

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