TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pointed the finger at the enemy’s dirty hands and some internal provocations as the main instigators of protests in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
“Civil protest is one of the fundamental rights of all members of the nation, and managers have a duty to listen to the protests and be humble and tolerant, but there is no doubt that behind these incidents are the dirty hands of the enemy and the provocations of some internal groups,” the president remarked.
Rouhani made the remarks during a cabinet meeting on Sunday afternoon, during which First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri presented a report on his visit to Khuzestan province.
According to Jahangiri, the patient people of Khuzestan, including sheikhs and tribal leaders, while expressing loyalty to the country and the system, demanded a solution to the problems that were in some cases due to drought and illegal water use.
Jahangiri stated in his report that appropriate decisions were made and implemented in the region.
The president thanked the dear people of Khuzestan for their patience, and members of the government for their work, especially the first vice president in solving the problems of the “heroic” people of Khuzestan.
Rouhani underlined the need for authorities to heed the people’s grievances. “The government cannot ignore recognizing people’s right to protest because of the fact that enemies may use it,” Rouhani continued.
Rouhani added, “This government has provided the most water and sewage services, building canals, tree planting, dust control and agricultural development to this province to honor the sacrifices of the dear people of Khuzestan in the eight years of the Holy Defense”.
Iran refers to resistance against the invading Saddam army in the 1980s as Sacred Defense or Holy Defense.
In the end, the president ordered all the relevant managers to continue working in this dear province until the problems are completely resolved.
Officials have shown sympathy with the people of Khuzestan while underlining that the people should be careful not to provide grounds for the enemies to abuse the protests.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has castigated the United States for its comments on the Khuzestan water protests, saying Iran will not let anyone meddle in its internal affairs.
Responding to a question from Fars News on the protests over water shortages in the oil-rich Khuzestan, the spokesman said Persian-speaking news organizations affiliated with foreign governments are seeking to undermine the unity and oneness of the Iranian nation.
“Of course, this is not their first effort in this regard and it will not be the last one. We are also aware of the comments by a U.S. State Department official [on Khuzestan protests],” Khatibzadeh told Fars News. “What is important is that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not let any country meddle in its internal affairs.”
“The government and officials are well aware of their duties towards the honorable people of Iran, and at the highest levels, they take care of the rightful demands of their citizens and try to eliminate the shortcomings,” he added.
The spokesman also called the stance of the United States and their claim of compassion for the human rights of the Iranian people “shameful” and stressed, “The U.S. regime itself is the direct cause of many of the sufferings that have been inflicted on the honorable people of Iran through conspiracies or oppressive sanctions.”
He noted, “The brave Khuzestan will never forget the crimes of Washington’s strategic partner, Saddam [Hussein] and the Ba’athist regime in Iraq.”
Khatibzadeh also condemned the U.S “hypocrisy” because of its insistence on continuing with the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Khatibzadeh said the Biden administration is following in Trump’s footsteps in terms of clinging to this campaign even though Trump has gone. “At the same time, they shed crocodile tears over the Iranian people’s human rights,” the spokesman said of the Biden administration.
Protests have erupted in several cities of the southwestern province of Khuzestan in recent days. Demonstrators called on local authorities to release waters stored behind the numerous dams on rivers flowing into Khuzestan plains and marshes, where hundreds of thousands of people make a living by tilling lands and raising water buffaloes and dairy cows among other livestock.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution also reacted to water protests in Khuzestan on Friday, underlining the legitimacy of the protesters’ demands.
“In the past seven, eight days, one of our concerns has been the issue of Khuzestan and the people’s water shortage problem in that area. It is really painful for us to see that despite the loyal people living in that province and with all the abundant natural resources in that area and with all the factories working there, the people have reached a point where they are dissatisfied with the shortage of water and sewage system,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to the khamenei.ir.
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out, “Well, the people cannot be blamed and their problem should be addressed, as should have been addressed until now. If the necessary measures had been adopted in due time, this situation would definitely not have arisen for the people. Thankfully, various organizations – executive and non-executive – have involved themselves and are pursuing the matter seriously and when the next administration takes office, they should seriously deal with the matter.”