22 May 2012
The Honourable Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran
Lake Orumiyeh in northwest Iran, which is one of the saltiest lakes in the world, has currently lost half its water. Environmentalists ascribe the reason to irregular construction of dams on the rivers feeding the lake. They believe that only by releasing the water behind the dams it would be possible to avert a looming environmental disaster.
If the current trend continues, it is estimated that Lake Orumiyeh will dry up in less than three years. As a result, some 10 billion tonnes of salt in the form of a dust storm will descend upon six million residents of the surrounding regions and destroy many farmlands.
Civil and environmental activists called for protests against the Iranian government policies on Lake Orumiyeh. Consequently on Monday 21 May 2012, several peaceful demonstrations were staged in the city of Orumiyeh and several other cities in Iran’s Azerbaijan Province. The security forces cracked down on the demonstrators, arresting over 100 protestors. Although a number of them were released after 24 hours, the fate of several more remains unknown. According to received reports, Messrs Hasan Ahmadian, Ali Hamed-Iman, Mohammad Eskandarzadeh and Ms Afsaneh Toughi were among those arrested.
I am drawing your Excellency’s attention to the issue of Lake Orumiyeh because the several protests that have so far been staged in that regard have resulted in the arrest of a number of innocent citizens. Moreover, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s recklessness is likely to expose millions of the residents in the region around the lake to serious danger. In addition, this issue could intensify ethnic tension in the region, hence posing a serious threat to peace and stability in Iran.
With best regards,
Human Rights Advocate and 2003 Nobel peace prize Laureate
cc: Mr. Ban Ki Moon, The Honourable UN Secretary General; Honourable Madam Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; The Honourable UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detentions; The Honourable UN Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment