(Reprinted from Global Voices Online 28 Aug 2011)Once again thousands of protesters have poured into streets of Tabriz and Urmia in Iran's Azerbaijan region on Saturday to call on the Iranian government to save the dying Urmia Lake, one of the world's largest salt water lakes.
From dying lake to saving country
|Lake Urmia 1984: NASA|
Iranian authorities quickly reacted by repressing protesters. The news was censored in Iran-based media, but several video were posted on YouTube and bloggers flooded cyber world with their posts. Blogger Urmuiscierli writes [fa] that there were battles on the streets with security forces beating up and arresting protesters, and even tying them to trees. Some bloggers called on more Iranians to support the Azeri activists and relaunch anti-regime demonstrations around country.
The construction of a dam on part of the lake, accompanied by a recent drought has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Urmia receives. This in turn has increased the salinity, repelling many birds and threatening permanent damage to the ecosystem. If the lake dries out, millions of people in the region will need to resettle to survive.
Protesters in Urmia
In Urmia, people say the lake is dying and that the authorities are responsible. Azarakan writes [fa] that the spark started in Azerbaijan, and that we should now support their struggle and do what we can to stop regime forces repressing Azeri people. He says, this is a rare opportunity and that we should go on until freedom.
1freecountry writes [fa] that Urmia Lake does not distinguish between Tehran and Tabriz, we should organize in coming days everywhere. Mosbate1000 says [fa] that:
Revolutionary Guards are responsible for constructing such dams to make a lot of profit. We should be aware of the cyber army of the Revolutionary Guards. In such occasions they post and share links to divide Iranians.
Doughodushab calls on [fa] Iranians to defend Urmia Lake and Azerbaijan. The blogger writes that we are all trapped by the Islamic regime and should protect our natural and cultural heritage.
Andarbab suggests [fa] that this Tuesday in Tehran and other cities people protest and demonstrate for supporting Azerbaijan.