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Angered by Water Shortages, Iranians March for 3rd Day

Iranians walk next to the "Si-o-Se Pol" bridge (33 Arches bridge), April 12, 2018, over the Zayandeh Rud river in Isfahan, which now runs dry because of water extraction before it reaches the city. The 295-meter-long bridge was completed in 1596 by an Iranian Safavid king, Shah Abbas the Great (Shah Abbas l).

Iran’s third-largest city of Isfahan has seen a third consecutive day of street protests against worsening water shortages in the country.

A social media video labeled as filmed Thursday in Isfahan’s eastern district of Khorasgan shows a group of protesters gathered on a street and marching peacefully through an adjacent park. VOA’s Persian service monitored the video as it circulated on the Telegram instant-messaging service.

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In the video, Iranian police stand behind barriers opposite the protesters as a man using a megaphone is heard calling on people not to chant anti-government slogans. Iranian police have made similar appeals to water-shortage protesters in Isfahan in recent days. Later in the clip, as the protesters walk through the park, they chant: “Don’t fear, we are together.”

Social media videos posted earlier this week and monitored by VOA’s sister network RFE/RL showed what activists said were peaceful water protests being staged in Isfahan on Wednesday and Tuesday.

Iranian state media quoted two lawmakers as saying Tuesday that millions of residents of Isfahan province in central Iran would lose access to tap water in the coming months as a water crisis deepened.

Map showing Isfahan, Iran
Map showing Isfahan, Iran

Iran’s government also has been diverting river water in Isfahan to the neighboring province of Yazd for industrial use, angering Isfahan’s farmers.

Iranian officials have acknowledged that outdated agricultural and irrigation systems and poor water management policies in the past three decades have contributed to national water shortages. Below-average levels of precipitation in recent months have exacerbated the situation.

VOA Persian’s Shahram Bahraminejad and Mohammad Naficy contributed to this report.