As representatives of more than 120 countries tried to reach an agreement to curb global warming, at COP26 in Glasgow, several hundred Iranian demonstrators marched last week in the bed of the Isfahan river. , in central Iran, to denounce the drying up of the emblematic river, the Zayandeh Roud (literally “The fertile river”in Persian).
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For two decades, the former Persian capital, which suffers from a semi-desert climate, has seen its river disappear and the ground crack under the arches of the emblematic Khadjou bridge from the 17th century.e century. As if in Florence, the Arno had disappeared under the Ponte Vecchio.
“A special place in the hearts of Iranians”
Since Monday, November 8, the farmers joined by residents of the city, the third largest in the country with around two million souls, have set up tents in the bed of the river and march past chanting: “There will be no respite in Isfahan if the river does not flow”, Where “Zayandeh Roud is our indisputable right”, according to videos posted on local media and social networks.
“Some Iranians say this is the biggest environmental protest in the country,” reports researcher Sina Toossi of the National Iranian American Council in Washington. ” This river holds a special place in the hearts of Iranians and its drying up in recent years is a great tragedy ”, he adds on Twitter.
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The protests are yet another episode of water scarcity in Iran, the fourth country in the world in water stress rankings (meaning water resources are insufficient for consumption), according to a World Resources report. Institute published in 2019.
Intensive crops and diversion of the river
In addition to global warming, which now regularly raises the temperature to 50 ° C, drought is also due to intensive crops and water-intensive industries. The drying up of the river is also the consequence of the diversion of the river by the authorities to supply the neighboring province of Yazd. On October 23, the Fars News Agency reported that water pipes had been destroyed east of Isfahan. “By demonstrators” to prevent this supply to Yazd, home province of former President Mohammad Khatami.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi, directly questioned by the demonstrators – “Raissi, this is our last warning! “ – promised to solve the problem, at a meeting with the deputies of the provinces of Isfahan, Yazd and Semman. “A committee and a working group will be formed to investigate the matter and restore the course of Zayandeh Roud”, he said according to the website of the presidency.
Ratify the Paris Agreement if …
The president keeps in mind the demonstrations which took place in July, just after his election, in many Iranian cities and in particular in the province of Khuzestan, in the south-west of the country. For days, thousands of protesters denounced “The dam mafia” and called for the fall of the regime. Several demonstrators were then killed by the police.
“Iran is affected by climate change like any place in the world. This has reduced our annual precipitation and the inflow of water into our rivers has decreased by 40%, which has affected our agriculture and our industrial and drinking water ”, TolamentedAli Salajegheh, Iranian representative at COP26, November 10. However, the Islamic Republic has not ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The head of the Iranian Environmental Protection Agency clarified that Tehran would only do so when international sanctions linked to its controversial nuclear program were lifted. And to add: “How then can Iran get involved (in this treaty) if it does not derive any benefit from it?” “