The United States is “very concerned” about the “Violent repression” of the “Peaceful” protesters in Isfahan, Irana State Department spokesman said Saturday.
“The Iranian people have the right to express their frustration and hold their government to account”Ned Price tweeted, referring to the discontent of the local population with the drought in the region.
The United States and Iran are scheduled to resume indirect talks in Vienna on Monday to try to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal.
At least 67 people were arrested after clashes with the police on Friday during a new protest against the draining of an emblematic river in Isfahan, the third largest city in the countryaccording to the Iranian police.
For more than two weeks, residents have organized rallies to complain about the terrible drought that has hit the area for years. They blame the authorities for diverting water from the city to supply neighboring Yazd province, which is also in dire need of water.
The arrests were carried out by the police, the Revolutionary Guard, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic and the intelligence services.
Last Sunday, more than 1,000 people marched to the governor’s office in the western province of Chahar-Mahal Bakhtiari to demand a solution to the water shortage, state media reported.
President Ebrahim Raisi met with representatives from the Isfahan, Yazd and Semnan provinces earlier this month and pledged to resolve the water issues.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that this issue is the country’s main problem, without referring to the protests.
Drought has been a problem in Iran for about 30 years, but in the last decade it has worsened, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Iran’s Meteorological Organization says that about 97% of the country now faces some level of drought.
With information from AFP