Khuzestan water protests leaves one man dead

Second consecutive night of demonstrations in the province bordering Iraq. According to the governor, the protester was hit by a stray bullet fired by demonstrators. The opposition's version was different, saying that the security forces were responsible. Oil workers take to the streets over non-payment of wages. 



Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - One person has died during the second consecutive night of protests in southwest Iran, triggered by a severe water shortage that has lasted for some time.

Official state media quoted an official from the province of Khuzestan as saying that the protester was accidentally shot by people who were firing gunshots into the air. 

Witnesses close to the opposition said the security forces intervening at the scene were responsible for the death. Iran is facing a severe drought and there is collective anger over the lack of water and electricity. 

Irna, report the death occurred in the city of Shadegan; pictures of the man were shared on social media. In this rally," explains the interim governor Omid Sabripour, "the rioters started to shoot in the air to provoke people and, unfortunately, one of the bullets hit a person there, killing him.

The victim is said to belong to the Arab minority in Khuzestan, on the border with Iraq. However, the opposition abroad claims he died as a result of the intervention of the police, who fired on the demonstrators in the square. The authorities' version of events was different, as they played down the scale of the protests, which were said to have involved several cities in an oil-rich province. In videos posted on social networks, people are seen setting fire to tyres in an attempt to block roads.

On 16 July, the government had sent a delegation to the region in an attempt to respond to the protesters' demands. The water crisis has had devastating effects on agriculture and livestock breeding and has caused several power cuts. This is why protests have been taking place in various cities across the country since the beginning of the month. 

According to the Iranian authorities, the drop in rainfall has dried up many hydroelectric power plants and triggered the crisis, along with a spike in requests for the use of air conditioners and refrigerators in this period of intense summer heat.

Others say the problem is linked to mismanagement of the grid and corruption, while the national economy remains paralysed, partly because of US sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, thousands of oil workers have gone on strike, demanding better wages and working conditions.