Ardeshir Amirarjmand, a spokesman for the opposition’s Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, has made a provocative proclamation: “A government that is faced with a legitimacy crisis is in fear of everything and sees threats everywhere: the rejoicing of youth and the breaking of the fast in public parks, and even the water levels of Lake Oroumiyeh become a security concern.”
Amirarjmand is referring to the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which has faced a legitimacy crisis since the 2009 presidential elections were marred by allegations of vote fraud.
On Sunday, Amirarjmand told the opposition website Kaleme that Lake Oroumiyeh is “the natural heritage of the people of Iran and our Azerbaijani compatriots,” adding: “They [the government] fail to carry out their responsibilities because they are removed from expert action and the real problems of the people. They think if they order the waters of Lake Oroumiyeh not to dry out, their order will be obeyed or else there is a conspiracy. So when people stage a peaceful protest to demand protection of their natural and environmental heritage, the government crushes them in the most severe way.”
In the past week, protests in Tabriz and Oroumiyeh against government inaction on the dire state of Lake Oroumiyeh were crushed by Iranian security forces, which dispersed crowds by force and arrested scores of demonstrators.
Protesters maintain that the government’s intention is to dry out the lake, which has been suffering a rapid decline in its water levels. The construction of numerous dams on the rivers that feed the lake has been raised as one of the factors contributing to the problem.