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Why Environmental Protests In Iran Are Being Ignored

The growing environmental movement in the West, wittingly or not, has given no attention to mass protests in Iran against the clerical regime, most recently focused on the drought conditions and other ecological risks. Had ecologists been hoping to sign a green pact with Tehran?

Local women walk on Gavkhooni wetland in Isfahan province, central Iran

Local women walk on Gavkhooni wetland in Isfahan province

Elahe Boghrat


I wrote this in late November as farmers in Isfahan, in central Iran, faced a ruthless assault by the security forces of the Islamic Republic on the dried Zayanderud river bed, where they had been protesting for several days. The latest footage shows shots being fired on the crowd of citizens, striking at least one man and a woman.

Farmers had called a protest for 9 a.m. on November 26, and large numbers of people were expected to gather in the river bed where water had until recently flowed for centuries, if not millennia.

The international community, which for decades has failed to question the information fed it by the Islamic Republic and its lobbyists and sympathizers abroad, said nothing about those protests, even as the world's attention was focused on the COP26 summit in Glasgow to discuss the state of the planet.

Indeed, the protests in Iran were about the very same topic, with drought and other environmental destruction in Iran. Countries preferred to listen to the claims of the Islamic Republic's envoys who were also in Glasgow, no doubt hoping for some sanctions relief and a cash handout.

Drought is real

These same people vowing to join a global green alliance are the ones who have destroyed Iran's environment, with or without sanctions, and insist on a satanic nuclear program that has isolated Iran from its neighbors and the world and brought sanctions on its head. And now they declare they would join a global green pact if sanctions were lifted!

Even in the summer of 2020, after the world had watched Iran's sham presidential vote and the election of the man Iranians dub the Death Judge, nothing was said when protests erupted over water in the southern province of Khuzistan. Once more, the media seemed to agree the elections deserved more attention than the protests of ordinary folk.

They looked the other way

But dried rivers will not flow again with promises, threats, repression or an Internet shutdown. Sooner or later, endemic and worsening drought in several parts of Iran was going to reignite protests. But are these protests not part of a global movement to save the environment? Only drought is not some distant threat in Iran. It has already happened.

Yet the defenders of the environment looked the other way. Was it to avoid offending the regime that is fueling this calamity? Are protesting Iranians and their bloody repression less important than Greta Thunberg's now-familiar declarations at summits?

Sometimes, the most harmful and inhumane act of all is neither words nor deeds, but silence.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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