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Iranian Police Crackdown on Water Shortage Protests

In this frame from a social media video posted April 13, 2018, people in Khorasgan, Iran march to protest water shortages that are hurting local farmers.

Iranian authorities have begun to crack down on days of protests against water shortages in Iran’s third largest city of Isfahan.

In a social media video monitored by VOA Persian and identified as filmed in Isfahan’s eastern district of Khorasgan on Saturday, Iranian police can be heard firing into the air as an officer using a megaphone tells protesters that their gathering is illegal and they must disperse.

WATCH: Police attempt to break up protest in Khorasgan, Iran

Police attempt to break up protest in Khorasgan, Iran
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It was the fifth consecutive day that social media users reported water-related protests in the city. But Saturday’s video was the first to show police taking action to break up the demonstrations.

The protest movement expanded on Friday, with conservative women from area farms seen marching in Isfahan for the first time in a social media video identified as having been filmed that day.

The Iranian government’s Shi’ite prayer leader in Isfahan, Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabaye-nejad, lost patience with the protesters on Friday, accusing them of seeking to cause “riots and sedition.”

An exiled Iranian opposition website posted what it said was an audio clip of Isfahan residents reacting to that accusation, chanting “shame on you, leave us alone.”

Iranian farmers in Isfahan province’s rural town of Varzaneh began protesting water shortages in February, angered by authorities diverting local river water to the neighboring province of Yazd for use in industry. Those protests escalated into violent confrontations with security forces last month.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service

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