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Iran arrests several after protests at the dried up lake

#Iran #arrests #protests #dried #lake

Iranian police have arrested several people for disrupting security after they protested the drying up of a lake once thought to be the largest in the Middle East, official media said on Sunday.

According to the UN Environment Program, Lake Urmia in the mountains of northwestern Iran began shrinking in 1995 due to a combination of prolonged drought and the abstraction of water for agriculture and dams.

One of the world’s largest “hypersaline” — or super-saline — lakes, Urmia lies between the cities of Tabriz and Urmia, and has more than six million people dependent on agriculture on its shores.

Rahim Jahanbakhsh, the police chief of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, reported the arrests on Sunday.

He described the suspects as “many evil and hostile elements who had no other aim than to destroy public property and disrupt the safety of the population,” according to the state news agency IRNA.

On Saturday, Fars News Agency reported that “dozens of people in the cities of Naghadeh and Urmia protested the authorities’ lack of attention to the drying up of Lake Urmia.”

Fars said protesters shouted slogans in the provincial capital, Urmia, warning that the lake was shrinking.

“Lake Urmia is dying, Parliament orders its killing,” some shouted, Fars reported, while others shouted, “Lake Urmia is thirsty.”

Like other neighboring countries, Iran, which is largely dry, has been suffering from chronic droughts and heat waves for years, which are expected to worsen with the effects of climate change.

Thousands of people have demonstrated in recent months against the drying up of rivers, especially in central and south-western Iran.

Lake Urmia is an important ecosystem, a key stopping point for migratory birds and home to an endemic shrimp and other underwater species.

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