Friday, August 26, 2016


Fresh Protests Over Iran's Lake Orumieh

Lake Orumieh (Urmia), located near Iran's border with Turkey, has been a flash point for previous protests.
Lake Orumieh (Urmia), located near Iran's border with Turkey, has been a flash point for previous protests.
Police in the Iranian city of Orumieh have cracked down on protesters demonstrating against the continued drying up of neighboring Lake Orumieh, according to BBC Persian reports

Videos uploaded to YouTube show large groups of people chanting slogans including, "Whoever stands aside and doesn't do anything is a coward."

The authenticity of the videos cannot be independently verified.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that police arrested "dozens" of protesters and beat several others with batons.

In September, Iranians took to the streets of Orumieh to protest the dire condition of the lake. 

Lake Orumieh, a salt lake located in Iran's East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan provinces, is drying up and turning into a salt marsh.

WATCH: User-generated YouTube video of protests in Orumieh

Late last year, RFE/RL photographer Abbas Atilay traveled to Orumieh to photograph the lake.

  • Lake Orumieh, or Urmia, in northwestern Iran, was once one of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders. (photos by Abbas Atilay, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service)
  • Located near the city of Orumieh, known as the “Paris of Iran,” the lake has historically attracted visitors from across the country.
  • But Lake Orumieh is now better known as the site of an environmental disaster.
  • One of the world’s largest saltwater lakes, Orumieh has shrunk by some 60 percent in recent years due to drought and the diversion of rivers to supply upstream communities with water.
  • Areas that used to be underwater are now accessible by car.
  • Stranded boats line what used to be the lake’s shores some six kilometers from the nearest water.
  • Salt drifts have accumulated in the dry lake bed.
  • Due to the desertification of the region, authorities are warning that as many as 1 million inhabitants might have to be relocated within five to six years.
  • Residents and environmental activists are pushing for action to help restore the water levels. Little can be done about the drought, but the amount of river water diverted for irrigation can be reduced, allowing more to reach the lake.
  • A fast-track solution to help save the lake was rejected in an August 17 vote in Iran’s parliament, the Majlis.
  • The slow death of Lake Orumieh has now become a hot-button political issue.
  • The lake borders Iran’s East and West Azerbaijan provinces, home to much of Iran’s ethnic Azeri population; the region’s history of protest against Tehran has helped galvanize demonstrations for policies to save the lake.
  • Without decisive action, this UNESCO biosphere reserve -- home to hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and mammals -- might disappear forever.

We will keep this post updated throughout the day. If any reader has more information -- photos, videos, eyewitness accounts -- please mention us on Twitter (@RFERL or @RadioFarda_) or send an e-mail to (Azǝrbaycanca materiallar da qǝbul olunur; لطفا نظرات خود را هم  به زبان فارسی).
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Rail Safiyev from: Berlin
May 22, 2012 18:04
In the article there is no mention of who is protesting at the rally.
They are ethnic Azerbaijanians who live in the north part of Iran. Unifortunately, the Iranian government put them under pressure and does not admit that 30 Mio has to speak its own language and has to be free.

by: Urmiyeli from: Canada
May 22, 2012 20:51
Many thanks to Radio Liberty for reporting on this and helping Azerbaijani people in their fight to protect Lake Urmia. I would like to point that, the issue of Lake Urmia is linked with the issues of minorities in Iran. I hope in future reports you will mention that the protesters are Azerbaijani Turks.

by: Javid from: Tabriz
May 22, 2012 22:48
Azeri people were divided by Russian and Persian empires. Its time to unite Azerbaijan! As Iranian Azeri Im tired of Persian assimilation and discrimination and equally tired of denial of all this by other Iranians. Either Iran must change and become a fair equal federal state or it must let Azerbaijan go!

by: URMIA BABA from: USA
May 24, 2012 23:57
I am from URMIA
I think, the Protest is a indisputable Right of people, specially when it is just. BUT most of times behind this kind of protests there is usualy foreign plots to separate Azerbaijan from Iran. That is my concern
As they did in 1945-1946 during Pishevari period.

Many people are not aware, that, Historicly and geneticly Azeris in Iran are neighter Turkish nor Caucasian Azeris
The origins of the Azeris in Iran derived from ancient IRONIC tribes such as MEDS in Northern Persia ,like other Iranian local minorities
Born in URMIA

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