Iran slams U.S. stance on Khuzestan protests as 'shameful'

July 25, 2021 - 19:49

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has castigated the United States for its comments on the Khuzestan water protests, saying Iran will not let anyone meddle in its internal affairs.

Responding to a question from Fars News on the protests over water shortages in the oil-rich, southwestern province of Khuzestan, the spokesman said Persian-speaking news organizations affiliated with foreign governments are seeking to undermine the unity and oneness of the Iranian nation.

“Of course, this is not their first effort in this regard and it will not be the last one. We are also aware of the comments by a U.S. State Department official [on Khuzestan protests],” Khatibzadeh told Fars News. “What is important is that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not let any country meddle in its internal affairs.”

“The government and officials are well aware of their duties towards the honorable people of Iran, and at the highest levels, they take care of the rightful demands of their citizens and try to eliminate the shortcomings,” he added. 

The spokesman also called the stance of the United States and their claim of compassion for the human rights of the Iranian people “shameful” and stressed, “The U.S. regime itself is the direct cause of many of the sufferings that have been inflicted on the honorable people of Iran through conspiracies or oppressive sanctions.”

He noted, “The brave Khuzestan will never forget the crimes of Washington’s strategic partner, Saddam [Hussein] and the Ba'athist regime in Iraq.”

Khatibzadeh also condemned the U.S “hypocrisy” because of its insistence on continuing with the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Khatibzadeh said the Biden administration is following in Trump’s footsteps in terms of clinging to this campaign even though Trump has gone. “At the same time, they shed crocodile tears over the Iranian people’s human rights,” the spokesman said of the Biden administration. 

Protests have erupted in several cities of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in recent days. Demonstrators called on local authorities to release waters stored behind the numerous dams on rivers flowing into Khuzestan plains and marshes, where hundreds of thousands of people make a living by tilling lands and raising water buffaloes and dairy cows among other livestock.

Earlier, Khatibzadeh also reacted to the “interventionist” and “politicized” statement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the recent events in Khuzestan.
Khatibzadeh on Saturday described the commissioner's statement on the recent events in Khuzestan province as regrettable, saying it was totally invalid and tainted with false accusations and incorrect information.
“The accusations have been made without considering the extensive efforts of the government, judiciary, security and media officials to alleviate the suffering of the people of this province and to resolve the existing problems, and that is the most important proof that the statement is politicized and invalid,” he added. 

“In this respect, the high commissioner's statement is more like a political declaration with a hostile tone than the words of an international human rights official,” Khatibzadeh noted.

The spokesman noted that making such unprofessional and biased comments on the management of Iran's water resources is not within the scope of the commissioner's responsibilities, and the institution under her responsibility does not have the authority and legitimacy to comment on this issue.

Khatibzadeh noted that the water crisis in Khuzestan is the result of a series of natural phenomena, especially this year's drought, and a consequence of the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Iran which have prevented the transfer of technology and investment in the water sector of Khuzestan. 

“The question is why the commissioner has not yet, so blatantly, condemned the unlawful sanctions imposed by the United States against the Iranian nation which have led to the violation of many of the fundamental human rights of this honorable nation, and has just expressed a few short and weak sentences!”

It seems that the efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to invent minorities and cause rift among the united nation of Iran are in line with the political program of a few specific governments whose enmity towards the Iranian nation is obvious, Khatibzadeh noted.

“These governments are the abusers of the lofty concept of human rights and the main proponents of anti-human rights political resolutions against the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly,” added the Foreign Ministry spokesman. 

Khatibzadeh stated that the Islamic Republic of Iran respects its citizens’ right to hold peaceful gatherings, and the country's authorities at the highest level have acknowledged the existence of water problems in the region and the people’s right to peaceful protests.

He added that the presence of the police and law enforcement in such gatherings in order to prevent riots and damage to people and public property is legal and accepted in accordance with international norms and regulations.

“At the same time the martyrdom of one police officer and the injuries of others indicate the infiltration of foreign-affiliated elements into the ranks of the protesters that is aimed at inciting sedition and creating fake conflicts,” he added.

Several high-ranking officials also addressed the concerns of the protesters and vowed to soothe them. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on government officials to seek solutions to the Khuzestan water problems in accordance with the latest instructions issued by Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in that regard. 

“Some of the problems in this province have been reduced, and we hope that the rest of the problems will be alleviated with the presence of the first vice president and other officials. The settlement of the Khuzestan issues must continue according to yesterday's directive of the Supreme Leader,” Rouhani said on Saturday.

Rouhani underlined the “special importance” of the protest-stricken province as a resource-rich border region. “These days, we witness problems weighing on the lives of the people of Khuzestan province in terms of water [shortages] and hot weather which has reduced the input of water dams. In general, the people have faced problems some of which have been reduced,” the president added. 

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution reacted to water protests in Khuzestan on Friday, underlining the legitimacy of the protesters’ demands.

“In the past seven, eight days, one of our concerns has been the issue of Khuzestan and the people’s water shortage problem in that area. It is really painful for us to see that despite the loyal people living in that province and with all the abundant natural resources in that area and with all the factories working there, the people have reached a point where they are dissatisfied with the shortage of water and sewage system,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to the khamenei.ir.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted, “Well, the people cannot be blamed and their problem should be addressed, as should have been addressed until now. If the necessary measures had been adopted in due time, this situation would definitely not have arisen for the people. Thankfully, various organizations – executive and non-executive – have involved themselves and are pursuing the matter seriously and when the next administration takes office, they should seriously deal with the matter.”

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