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Iran: Protests for a Drying Lake

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Iran, Environment, Governance, Politics, Protest

Dozens of protesters were arrested on April 2, 2011 [1] in Iran's Azerbaijan region [2] in the cities Tabriz and Urmia (northwestern Iran). This time protests were not for democracy and freedom, but instead demands for the government to protect Lake Urmia [3], one of the world's largest salt water lakes.

The construction of a dam on part of the lake accompanied by a recent drought has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Urmia receives. This in turn has increased the salinity, repelling many birds.

Protesters cried: “Lake Urmia is burning of thirst”, and “Break down dams and let water flow into the Lake Urmia”.

On the website Tabrizsesi, there are several photos – like the one above [4] of today's demonstration.

Az inavr o Oonvar says [5][fa]

Today we can say that Iranian Azerbaijani people rose up and protested to save Lake Urmia. Other Iranian citizens in different cities such as Tehran and Shiraz should support this movement as a sign of solidarity.

Urmuiscileri blog writes [6] [fa] that according to eye witnesses, around 300 people attempted to start a demonstration in Urmia, but they were repressed by security forces and several people were arrested.

Lake Urmia has [7] 102 islands, the second largest being, Kaboudi. This is the burial place of Hulagu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan [8], emperor of the Mongol empire. One of the earliest mentions of Lake Urmia is from the Assyrian records from 9th century BCE. See photos of its beauty on Abdolian.com [7].