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Protests Continue in Tabriz: Families of Prisoners Attacked

By Kaveh Ghoreishi, Rooz Online

The gathering of families of arrested political activists in Azerbaijan province on April 2 (the day of the Iranian Spring festival when Iranians traditionally picnic outside their homes) turned into a verbal and physical confrontation between them and security forces. The gatherings continued the next day, with no word from authorities on the conditions and fate of the detainees.

video showing people being detained in Tabriz

Meanwhile Amnesty International referred to the arrest of some seventy Azerbaijani citizens in Tabriz and twenty more in Urumieh and demanded their unconditional release while also requesting information on their whereabouts. In their interviews with RoozOnline, Azerbaijani activists said that they anticipate that if the Iranian government continues with its current approach the wave of protests against the deteriorating living conditions will grow throughout Azerbaijan's cities and will lead to political demands.


Officials Do not Respond

According to Aadaap (The Association for Defending Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran) news-site , "Security forces attacked protestors and charged against those wearing red clothes or red signs, detaining some and injuring others." The gathering in the Tabriz' Azerbaijan square and in the Ellarbaaghi Park of Urumieh was in response to the call by civil and environmental activists of Azerbaijan to protest against the current conditions of the Lake Urumieh region. Saeed Khazarlou, Rasoul Razavi, Davood Shiri, Samad Karimi, Hassan Khoui, Habib Pourvali, Hossein Abdollahi, Hamed Hosseini, Jalil Alamdar Milani, Hojjat Mokhtarzadeh, Ali Salimi, Rahim Tarabnak, Ali Balandeh, Kazem Vaahedi, Saeed Siami, Ali Babapour and Elias Shokri were among those detainees reported by Azerbaijan's sources.

Based on video recordings circulated on social networks, the demonstrators were chanting such slogans as "Lake Urumieh is thirsty", "Death of Lake Urumieh is the death of all Azerbaijan", "Protect Lake Urumieh", " Long Live Azerbaijan", " Open the dams and fill Lake Urumieh".


According to published reports, the water level of Urumieh lake has fallen 27 centimeters since last year. Earlier Kiyumars Kalantari, the director-in-chief of the environmental agency of West Azerbaijan had said, "Due to this decrease the coastal area covered by salty sands is shrinking". He also mentioned that the volume of water entering the lake system had decreased by 1/5 million cubic meters in comparison to last year levels. At the same time some MPs representing the region had warned about the consequences of a possible environmental crisis in this regard. Also a few months ago Javad Jahangirzadeh an MP from Urumieh had stated at the parliament, " The officials either don't know the depth of the crisis or they play with people for to change the irrigation system in these two provinces will cost more than three thousand billion Tomans" (about 3 million USD). According to this MP, " If the problems of Lake Urumieh go unanswered, as they have been, this lake will die and if its life will run into problem and its survival will require hundreds of billion dollars of re-investment. One to ten billion tons of the salt that is carried away by winds from this lake to the east of the country can affect the lives of 13 million people and can even impact the life of people in Tehran."

... Payvand News - 04/07/11 ... --

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