Five Arrested in Hashtrud for Environmental Protest

In Hashtrud, East Azerbaijan province, five individuals were detained by security forces following a protest against environmental damage.

The detainees, identified by HRANA as Rahmat Saeedi, Jafar Sharifi, Davoud Sharifi, Hadi Sharifi, and Aghil Talebi, are residents of a village in Hashtrud County.
They were protesting the ecological harm caused by local sandwashing workshops. The protest escalated into violence following intervention by police and security agents, leading to multiple arrests. The specific charges against the arrested individuals have not yet been disclosed.

At least Five Animal Rights Activists Arrested

Mehdi Fadaei, Hadi Behbahani, Mojtaba Rasouli, Mohammad Azizi and Milad Shaterani are among the animal rights activists arrested during the recent nationwide protests.

These Animal rights activists were arrested earlier on 26th October, for unknown reasons in relation to the current nationwide protests.

At the time of writing, there is no information on the charges and place of detention of these individuals.

Since the outbreak of nationwide protests, over 18200 people, including journalists, lawyers, teachers, students and civil rights activists, have been arrested. For more details and statistics on the nationwide protest across Iran, read HRANA’s comprehensive.

Several Individuals Arrested in Maku County

In Maku, West Azerbaijan Province, the Ministry of Intelligence summoned and arrested several individuals following a protest against government negligence to revive the Urmia Lake, which has been completely dried up.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, in recent days, several individuals were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence due to their environmental activism for Urmia Lake.

HRANA has identified one of these individuals as Aydin Jafari, age 19, whose condition and whereabouts are unknown so far.

On September 11, 2022, several Maku residents and environmentalists staged a protest to demand actions to rescue Urmia Lake.

The charges against these individuals are still unknown.

Twenty-Two Protestors Arrested during Protest against the Pollution of Landfills   

On Thursday, April 29, 2022, 22 residents of Saravan Village, were arrested. In recent weeks, residents of Saravan Village in Rasht Province held protests to get the officials’ attention to the local landfill sites, which have insects, toxins, and leachate to come to the area.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting IRIB News Agency, 22 individuals were arrested during the protest against the pollution caused by landfills in the forests near Saravan Village in Rasht Province.

Confirming the arrest of these protestors, Majid Rasoulzadeh, the Social and Cultural Deputy of the Gilan Police Department, claimed that during the clash with protestors, five police officers were injured and one was hospitalized.

Photos and videos circulated on social media, however, showing that the police have used violence against the protestors.

22 Citizens Sentenced to Total of 160 Years and 1480 lashes for Protesting against Water Transfer Project

Recently, Branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Boroujen County sentenced 22 citizens to a total of 160 years imprisonment, 1480 lashes and fines for a protest that took place seven years ago against an under-construction water transfer project channeling water from Sabzkuh to Boroujen.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, in Boroujen County, 22 citizens were sentenced to imprisonment and flogging for a peaceful protest against a water transfer project.

Twenty citizens were sentenced each to one year and 74 lashes on the charge of “disturbing public order” and 7 years in prison on the charge of “destruction of public property”. Two other citizens were sentenced each to a fine in the amount of 2 million tomans as an alternative to three months imprisonment. Based on these verdicts, the prison sentences 10 citizens to be suspended for two years.

An informed source told HRANA that: “In 2015, these citizens protested against the digging of a water transfer tunnel, at the headspring Alugareh and the construction site by holding symbolic mourning ceremonies. The project did not have permits from the Department of Environment. The protestors rejected all accusations from the beginning” 

Nonetheless, in 2020, the Public and Revolutionary Court of Boroujen found these citizens guilty.

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Zahra Mohammadi Sent to Jail to Serve Five Year Sentence

On January 8, civil activist Zahra Mohammadi was sent to the women’s ward of the Correctional Center of Sanandaj City to endure her five year imprisonment.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, Mohammadi was arrested by security forces on May 23, 2019. After more than six months in detention, she was released on a bail of 700 million tomans (166,600 USD) on December 2 of that year.

In July 2020, Branch 1 of Sanandaj’s Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 10 years in prison on the charge of “organizing people with intention to disturb national security”. In February of 2021, this verdict was reduced to 5 years on appeal. Her request for a retrial was rejected by the Supreme Court of Iran.

Mohammadi, 29 years old, is a member of the cultural association Nojin which is engaged in environmental activities, forest protection and Kurdish language teaching.

Security Forces Brutally Suppress Protesters in Isfahan

On Friday, November 26, a farmers’ protest in Isfahan over water mismanagement turned violent after military and police forces used tear gas and live ammunition on protesters.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, internet connection has been intentionally disrupted across the city and in some areas has been completely shut down.

According to video footage obtained by HRANA, numerous military forces attempted to scatter protesters using batons, tear gas, and live ammunition. In this brutal attack, several citizens, some of them elderly, were injured.

The protest began on November 7, when farmers assembled at the office of Hossein Mirzaie, a parliament member who had previously responded to reports of water shortages with directives to simply pray for rain.

“We are waiting for the MP to come here and do rain prayer,” the farmers stated in response. “We (will stay) here on sit-down strike until it rains.”

In the following days, they continued their protest by assembling in dried up stretches of the river Zayandeh-rud to demand their water portion for wheat cultivation and the revival of the river. They also asked for the shut down of a water transfer project which extracts water from the province through two canals, exacerbating the current water shortage. Recently, a video published on social media shows that some farmers are damaging the water pipe, which carries water from Isfahan to Yazd Province, in protest.

Gradually, other citizens joined the farmers until November 19, when thousands of people assembled and marched. The protestors chanted, “Let Isfahan breath, give Zayndeh-rud back”, ” Zayndeh-rud is our inalienable right”, and “We won’t get back home, not until the water gets back to the river”,  and “Shame on the police and death to the dictator”.

According to information obtained by HRANA, as of Saturday, at least 214 protesters, including 13 underage citizens, have been arrested. Most of these arrestees have been transferred to the IRGC’s regional quarter known as Saheb-al-Zaman as well as Ghoddusi Basij Base in Isfahan City. Some of these citizens have been released after taking a solemn pledge and confiscating identity cards until the end of the day. About the 150 detainees were relocated to Isfahan, Khomeini Shahr Prisons and Isfahan women’s penitentiary.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran News Broadcasting (IRIB), The Isfahan chief of police, Mohammad-Reza Mir-Heydari, commended the police, Basij military forces and security agents for suppressing the protest and promised decisive action against the protesters.

The regime’s official and affiliated media outlets, such as Fars News Agency and IRIB, claimed that the protesters are not Isfahan farmers and these protests have been held by the call of “anti-revolutionary groups”.

Last Wednesday, security forces set fire on some of the farmers’ tents, who went on sit-down strike under Khaju Bridge.

In addition to denying the news about the death of one protester, Spokesman of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences stated, “According to the latest reports, all injured people, including police forces, have been discharged from hospital and only 19 people are still hospitalized, of which one is on critical condition.”

Thousands Demonstrate Against Water Mismanagement in Isfahan

On Friday, November 19, thousands of citizens and farmers assembled and protested in the dried up stretches of the river Zayandeh-rud in Isfahan.

Since last Sunday, these farmers have been on a sit-down strike in protest of authorities’ ongoing mismanagement of the water supply. They ask for their water supply for the fall wheat planting and revival of the river Zayandeh-rud, most of which is now dry. Moreover, the lack of water crisis management has affected the living conditions of many farmers.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, thousands of citizens in Isfahan have been assembled in dried up stretches of the river Zayandeh-rud and near the Khaju Bridge. Reportedly, in this area, the internet connection is intentionally disrupted.

The protestors chanted, “Let Isfahan breath, give Zayndeh-rud back”, ” Zayndeh-rud is our inalienable right”, and “We won’t get back home, not until the water gets back to the river.”

Along with land subsidence and water shortage, the way the shortage has been handled has worsened the living conditions of about one hundred thousand farmers in eastern Isfahan.

The farmers have assembled to protest several times, but they have not received any proper response from authorities. Once in response to these issues, parliament member Hossein Mirzaie recommended “rain praying” as the only solution.

As a backlash, the farmers assembled at the office of parliament member Hossein Mirzaie and asked him to pray to see if it rains. “We are waiting for the MP to come here and do rain prayer,” the farmers stated. “We go here on sit-down strike until it rains.”

Earlier, parliament member Abas Moghtadai promised that, along with other Isfahan members of parliament, he would have a meeting with the president to address their issue. However, as of this writing, no report has been published on the holding of this meeting or its resolution.

Park Ranger Sentenced to Death for Murder of Illegal Hunter

The criminal court of Kermanshah Province recently sentenced a park ranger to death for the murder of an illegal hunter while he was poaching in the protected nature area Bisotun.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Javan Online, Branch 3 of the Criminal Court has issued this verdict. The report has identified the convicted park ranger as Boroomand Najafi.

In August 2020, during a fight between several forest rangers and several illegal hunters, one of the hunters was shot dead.

The most recent report of the Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) states that between October 8 of 2020 and October 9 of 2021, at least 266 citizens, three of whom were juvenile offenders, were executed and 90 citizens were sentenced to death.


The Uprising of the Thirsty; An Analysis of the 2021 Khuzestan Protests

The July 2021 Iranian protests were a continuation of protests that have been erupting sporadically since 2016.

The driving force behind the July/August uprising was to protest the perennial water shortages and rolling blackouts stemming from mismanagement of resources, fueling public anger. The latest round of protests erupted on 15 July, starting in Khuzestan soon spreading to other provinces including Isfahan, Lorestan, Eastern Azerbaijan, Tehran, and Karaj. These protests have been coined the ‘Uprising of the Thirsty’.

As nearly 5 million Iranians in Khuzestan are lacking access to clean drinking water, Iran is failing to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to water, which is inextricably linked to the right to the highest attainable standard of health; both are protected by the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESR), to which Iran is a signatory. It is a common cause that Iran’s water crisis has reached a critical point. Even the regime’s state-run media have acknowledged the dire situation, with at least 700 villages out of water.

According to the state-run Aftab News on July 4, 2021, “Of Iran’s population of 85 million, about 28 million live in areas with water shortages and are under pressure in this regard, mainly in the central and southern regions of the country. Water shortages have affected all sections of society, from urban households to agricultural and rural communities.”

It did not take long for the protests to take on a political character, with protesters in various cities calling for the end of the current regime and expanding the subject matter of their protests from water shortages to deteriorating living conditions.

One protester told HRA, “My ideal outcome is to see a regime official resign in response to our suffering. We are tired of all of this misery, poverty, dehydration, neglect, lies, and empty promises.

A protester living in Tehran told HRA, “Besides supporting [the people of] Khuzestan, we are protesting unemployment, high prices, poverty, and the existing problems in the country. We can no longer bear the hardships of life created by unworthy officials. The authorities must address the problems…

In the two weeks of the uprising, Human Rights Activists (HRA) verified 129 videos documenting the protests, 361 arrests, 6 deaths, and several more wounded. HRA’s Spreading Justice team (HRA-SJ) additionally identified individual violators associated with the violent crackdown. The following report analyses the events that occurred as a result of the uprising, those responsible, and concludes with a call for accountability noting that without action, this cycle of abuse will only continue.

Read the full report here.


For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]