DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iranian police opened fire on Sunday night amid protests against water shortages in southwestern Iran, a video showing the latest unrest after days of demonstrations in which at least one person died.
Video from the Human Rights Activists News Agency of Human Rights Activists in Iran showed the shooting in Susangerd, which has been an epicenter of demonstrations in Iran’s restless Khuzestan province.
A police officer shoots into the air with a pistol and at least one other shot can be heard in the footage. Riot police on motorcycles turn around a corner, firing at protesters.
The video corresponded to other Associated Press reports on the demonstrations in Khuzestan, home to ethnic Arabs who complain of discrimination by Iran’s Shiite theocracy. The video also matched Susangerd’s known characteristics and the protest shown took place where other demonstrations occurred in recent days.
On Sunday, the Khuzestan province deputy governor in charge of security affairs acknowledged that the riots had killed at least one person. The state news agency IRNA quoted Valiollah Hayati as blaming “rioters” for killing a citizen in the Khuzestan city of Shadegan. Iran’s government has long blamed protesters for the deaths during protesters in the riots, despite its record of bloody crackdowns.
Arab separatists have long operated in Khuzestan, which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sought to seize in his 1980 war with Iran. They have blown up oil pipelines in the past and have been blamed for the attacks, including a 2018 assault on a military parade that killed at least 25 people in Ahvaz.
Water concerns in the past have sent angry protesters to the streets in Iran. The country has faced continuous blackouts for weeks, in part because of what authorities describe as a severe drought. Rainfall had decreased by nearly 50% in the past year, leaving dams with increasingly scarce water supplies.
The protests in Khuzestan occur as Iran struggles through repeated waves of infections in coronavirus pandemic toward thousands of workers in its oil industry have started strikes for better wages and conditions.
Iran’s economy has also struggled under the US sanctions. since then-President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, causing the value of the Islamic Republic’s currency, the rial, to collapse.