Ahwaz protests continue in Iran

Protests against recurring electricity and water cuts and heavy air pollution continue for the sixth consecutive day in the city of Ahwaz in Khuzestan Province, Iran.

According to reports, riot police and Revolutionary Guard forces have been deployed to curb protests and the Iranian government throttled the internet service to prevent the protests from spreading on social media. Arrests and gun shots have been reported.

Over the past week, protests have been held in Ahwaz, considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, as well as in other cities in Khuzestan Province.

Khuzestan, home to Iran’s largest Arab community, the Ahwazi, is a fertile and oil- and gas-rich province providing Iran with energy and revenue but nonetheless suffers from neglect and environmental disaster.

Storms of dust and pollution particles mixing with heavy rainfall were reportedly the cause for the water and power cut-offs beginning at the end of January. The dust storms have swept over the province for years and the pollution has provoked many kinds of diseases such as respiratory ones amongst the population.

The events have sparked comments drawing parallels to the 1978 Arab oil workers’ strike in Khuzestan that paved the way for the Iranian Revolution which ended the rule of the Shah the following year.

Saddam Hussein invaded Khuzestan in 1980, which lasted until 1982 while the Iran-Iraq war continued until 1988 causing much damage to the oil refineries and the cities of the province.