Iran arrested more than 60 people in connection with Friday’s protests over water shortages in the central city of Isfahan, state media reported on Saturday.
Security forces have so far arrested 67 of the “main agents and motivators” of Friday’s unrest, the semi-official Fars news agency cited Hassan Karami, head of the police’s special units, as saying.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed “deep concern” over the crackdown on Iranian protestors.
He said: “Deeply concerned about the violent crackdown against peaceful protestors in Isfahan. The people of Iran have a right to voice their frustrations and hold their government accountable.”
Washington has repeatedly censured Tehran over its crackdown on protests across the country, while expressing solidarity with the Iranian public’s right to peaceful protest.
Watch: Protests continue in some parts of #Isfahan including at the Simin Intersection at the center of the Iranian city, where protesters chanted "Death to the Dictator."https://t.co/L8fm4pJZgf pic.twitter.com/0dMUqF3Wgd— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) November 27, 2021
Iran’s security forces clashed on Friday with demonstrators who were protesting the government’s water management policies in Isfahan, videos shared on social media showed.
Security forces attacked protesters with batons in the dry bed of the Zayandehrud River and fired tear gas to disperse them, some videos shared on social media showed.
Karami blamed “anti-revolutionary elements” for the violence in Isfahan. Iranian officials use the term “anti-revolutionary” to refer to groups opposed to the Islamic Republic.
Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based rights group, said security forces arrested more than 120 people over the protests in Isfahan.
Isfahan’s once-famed Zayandehrud River, which has dried up due to drought and mismanagement, has been the scene of protests led by farmers against the government’s water management policies since November 12.
But on Friday chants turned political with some protesters chanting “death to the dictator,” taking aim at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, footage circulating on social media showed.
Government officials have blamed low rainfall for water shortages in Isfahan and elsewhere in the country.
In July, deadly protests broke out in the southwestern province of Khuzestan over water shortages. At least eight protestors died according to rights group Amnesty International; Iranian officials have not revealed the number of casualties.
Protests in Iran have intensified over the past two years, occurring more frequently and becoming more violent. The public is angry with the regime over poor living conditions as international sanctions have pressured the country’s economy and crippled the currency.
Protesters demonstrated against rising gas prices, inflation, and water shortages. The demonstrations eventually take on a political nature with many people blaming the regime and government corruption for their daily life woes.