Friday, September 17, 2021

The Uprising of Thirst: Day 7 – This Regime Will Drown in Water

On the 7th day of the protests, the Internet was completely cut off in Khuzestan. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021, after 7 days, NetBlocks confirmed the continuous and widespread disruption in internet of Khuzestan province during the whole week. According to the independent organization, which monitors the restrictions and disruptions of Internet all over the world, users in Khuzestan have faced severe internet restrictions since the beginning of the protests, on Thursday, July 15, especially in mobile Internet network. Over the past week, IranTrue has reported daily internet outages and disruptions in Khuzestan, despite the constant denial of the state media, specifically the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency. In its report, NetBlocks reveals a new quality in stifling and restricting communication networks and free flow of information:

“Cellular data analysis metrics corroborate widespread user reports of cellular network disruptions, consistent with a regional internet shutdown intended to control protests. Fixed-line connectivity remains available in the area although users in Khuzestan are understood to be highly dependent on mobile data services. The incident is estimated to have knocked out approximately 3%-4% of Iran’s national mobile data connectivity. This class of internet disruption affects connectivity at the cellular network layer and cannot generally be worked around with the use of circumvention software or VPNs. Hence, it can severely limit access to information without the implementation of a total or national network blackout.”

Nariman Gharib, a civil activist and IT expert, explains this new quality of imposing restrictions and creating suffocation in a simpler language:

“They bring down the speed to such a low level that practically nothing would work, mainly on mobile networks.”

Brutal oppression and killing of protesters, use of heavy military weapons against defenseless citizens, lack of information and news coverage by the Islamic Republic Radio and Television (IRIB), lies and widespread propaganda of state media, insult of provincial and national officials to the dignity of protesters, calling citizens “rioters and terrorists”, killing and injuring them – no one still has accurate statistics on their numbers and identities, and the regime has been denying, preparing and broadcasting misinformation and false scenes 24 hours a day – and the internet -which at this moment and this time, not only in Khuzestan, but anywhere that has been a protest, has been cut off or severely disrupted – none of these can stop not the wave, but the massive avalanche of protests that started from Khuzestan and reached Isfahan, Bushehr, Karaj, Tehran yesterday. The protests which united Lor, Arab, Bakhtiari, Tangestani, Fars and Ganavehi in “Death to the Islamic Republic! Death to Khamenei!”

The number of protesting cities has doubled in a week. According to videos and reports published on social media, people in Susangard, Behbahan, Yazdanshahr (Isfahan), Khor Musa, Ganaveh, Ahvaz, Dezful, Sheiban, Alahee, Mahshahr, Masjid Soleiman, Ramshir, Shahdasht (Karaj), Khorramshahr, Shaour (Karkheh) , Shadegan, Shush, Khalfieh, Darkhovin, Daghagheleh and Molashieh (Ahvaz), Bushehr, and… held protest rallies. In some places, protesters set fire to tires and blocked roads. Many videos show the regime’s repressive forces firing tear gas and bullets at people. The sound of machine gun fire can be heard. Children are also among the protesters. Police fire indiscriminately at the crowd. These people’s demand is no longer water. They want freedom. They do not want an Islamic Republic. They do not want Khamenei. They want their land. They do not want forced migration. They do not want Islamic Republic’s lies. They want their Karun, Karkheh and Zayandehrud (largest rivers in Iran which have dried up in recent years). They do not want the Gotvand Dam. They do not want the IRGC. They want their Hour al-Azim Wetland, Rezaieh, the bride of the Middle East, Abadan, once again.

International institutions have been warning of a water and drought crisis in the region for more than a decade. In the 2010s, Ahmadinejad’s first term, Islamic Republic attributed the water crisis in large parts of the central and southern plains of Iran to reduced rainfall. However, in the first years of that decade, the Islamic Republic systematically and strategically launched the “forced migration” plan – or to be more precise, the more fascist term appropriate for the Islamic Republic: the “mass deportation” plan.

At the same time, regime officials in the media space publicly injected lies into the public mind. It was two years ago, in July 2019, that Isa Kalantari, the head of the Rouhani’s Environment Protection Organization, in the National Dust Control Committee reassured everybody: “Khuzestan is the only province which won’t have water crisis for the next 50 years!”

Today, after 42 years of the Islamic Republic, Khuzestan resembles the “wasteland” of TS Elliott *:

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation

Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was now living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road

[…]
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses

If there were water       
And no rockIf there were rockAnd also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock

If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing

But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water


Translation of this post by Sahar.

*: T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

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