Iran’s Mashregh newspaper reported on Saturday that Ahwazi MPs unexpectedly interrupted President Rouhani’s speech about the 2017 budget during the Iranian parliament’s open session to object to the government’s lack of attention to terrible air pollution problems and the ongoing diversion of Karoon River’s water in Ahwaz region.
The newspaper explained that MPs Abdullah Sameri and Jalil Mokhtar interrupted the president’s speech to protest about the government’s failure to help the people of Ahwaz, who are facing multiple serious health issues caused by pollution aggravated by horrendous dust storms and other adverse weather conditions in the region.
The two Ahwazi MPs protested in particular at one of the most serious risks threatening the Ahwaz’s environment, which is gradual desertification due to the regime’s diversion of the region’s rivers to central, ethnically Persian provinces of Iran.
The regime’s existing massive damming and diversion programs, particularly on the Karoon, Karkheh and Dez rivers, have already had catastrophic effects on the region’s residents, on agriculture and on Ahwaz’ ecosystem and wildlife, with growing numbers of dust storms due to the increasing aridity and desertification adding to the severe pollution from the oil and gas fields in the region.
More such damming and diversion programs are planned by the regime for the region, inflicting even greater damage on the people and environment of Ahwaz. The droughts and desertification are also having a devastating effect on the region’s renowned, once-verdant marshlands, such as Hor Howeyzeh and Hor Falahiyeh.
MP Sameri shouted, “The president Hassan Rouhani talked about everything today, but he didn’t say anything about Ahwaz, while five million people are dying there!”
Such open protest by Ahwazi Arab MPs is exceptionally unusual as the regime goes to great lengths to intimidate Ahwazi representatives into silence and to prevent them from publicly addressing the subject of the Ahwazi people’s suffering. Previous complaints by Ahwazi MPs meant that they were deselected by the leadership and refused the opportunity to stand in local elections.