On August 27, 2011 in the city of Urmia, citizens gathered to peacefully protest the Iranian government’s neglect of Lake Urmia. Iranian police used tear gas and force to attempt to stop peaceful demonstrators. Many were injured and arrested on the scene while police forces later arrested those being treated for injuries in local hospitals. Three people are currently confirmed dead.
Lake Urmia is the largest lake in the Middle East and its drying has reduced its size by sixty percent. The lake is crucial to its neighboring communities but the Iranian government has consistently rejected proposals and funding to revive the lake.
Lake Urmia is one of the most pivotal environmental issues in the Middle East today and affects the livelihoods of over 13 million inhabitants in the region. The violent reaction to the peaceful demonstrations only continues Iran’s oppression of civil and human rights.