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?
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.
Massive Protest in Isfahan #Iran today against drought, corruption and poor management.\n\nInternet disruptions now being reported, and heavier security presence now to quell gatherings at night:pic.twitter.com/0uygcusVyx— Joyce Karam (@Joyce Karam) 1637341612
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.