London, 14 April – According to reports coming out of Iran, residents of the flood stricken areas in the southwestern city of Ahvaz have come out in protest over what they call the Iranian authorities’ incompetence in dealing with the floods.
In videos published on social media, locals in the Eyn-e Do region in western Ahvaz — an oil rich province of Khuzestan — marched through the streets chanting, “they wanted to dishonor us, but we will not be dishonored.”
The government and the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are opening dams so that floodwaters can be directed onto farmlands, villages, and cities, rather than allow them to affect property owned by the IRGC. Locals don’t have facilities to make flood barriers but also claim that if the government refuses to direct water to Hawizeh Marshes they will take matters in their own hands. Similar protests are reported in the Shelang Abad region in Ahvaz, as well. But, videos released on social media only show the tip of the iceberg in terms of the people’s growing anger and frustration with the government.
The Revolutionary Guards has blocked water from the Hawizeh Marshes according to reports, in an attempt to protect its oil interests in the region. Instead the water is directed to nearby cities and villages. Angry flood stricken Ahvaz residents are said to have verbally attacked a visiting senior IRGC officer. In fact, videos showed locals surrounding Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a former commander of the infamous Bassij forces, chanting at him, “Khuzestan has been swept away by water while officials sleep.” The locals also chanted, “get lost” in Persian and “Ahvaz will be free” in Arabic while pushing Naqdi’s bodyguards and police.
State-run news agencies such as Tasnim may boast that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Basij forces, and other regime affiliated institutions are aiding flood victims in the worst hit areas of Iran, but locals are furious and claim they have been abandoned by the government.
While severe rain and floods have ravaged more than 27 provinces since May 17th, corruption and mismanagement are being blamed, For example, Naser Saraj, the head of the country’s Inspection Organization recently said that “mistakes and man-made elements” have increased flood damages.
A report published on Thursday by Fars cited Iranian emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khalidi as saying the death toll from a series of flash floods has risen to 70, with hundreds of people injured.