The water crisis is not the focus of the current demonstrations, which have mostly been led by city dwellers whose livelihoods are unlikely to be directly affected. But it is part of the accumulated anger now being unleashed. On the streets and on social media, protesters have referenced the dried-up Urmia Salt Lake and Zayandeh Rud river, which have emerged as symbols of the Iran regime’s incompetence.
Other environmental problems, like air pollution, are cited as motivations for rebellion in the viral protest anthem Baraye (“Because of”)
Nine environmentalists and ecologists were arrested in 2018 on charges of espionage. All were members of the Persian World Heritage Foundation, an NGO dedicated to conserving wildlife in Iran, and are serving sentences from four to 10 years.