A spokesperson for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Michelle Bachelet’s remarks were “regrettable” because the protests had caused four deaths.
Iran on Saturday rejected the “false allegations” made by the UN human rights chief over the water shortage protests in the southwest of the country. Since last week, at least four people have died in the area.
Khuzestan is Iran’s main oil producing area and the richest among the country’s 31 provinces. It has been suffering from drought since March. protest Since July 15, several towns and cities have erupted.
Iranian media and officials said that at least three people were killed, including a policeman and a protester, who accused “opportunists” and “mobs” of shooting at demonstrators and security forces.
State television stated that a fourth person was killed and two injured in the “riots” in the western province of Lorestan on Thursday, and that people took to the streets “using Khuzestan’s water problems as an excuse”.
In the past few days, sporadic Internet slowdowns or power outages have been reported across the province. Despite Internet restrictions, a large number of videos have appeared in several counties in Khuzestan in the past week, many of which can be heard from gunshots and the use of tear gas.
In some videos, protesters can be seen venting angrily to a large number of security forces riding motorcycles, wearing black clothes and brandishing batons.
Tags such as #KhuzestanIsThirsty and #KhuzestanHasNoWater in Persian have been widely used to draw attention to crises and protests that are rarely reported by the international media.
Michel Bachelet, the head of human rights at the United Nations, told Iran on Friday to resolve Khuzestan’s chronic water shortages rather than suppress protesters.
She said: “Shooting and arrests will only exacerbate anger and despair,” she added, adding that “catastrophic” situations have accumulated for many years.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Said Khatibzad said on Saturday that Bachelet “regrets the recent events in Khuzestan” and condemned “false allegations and incorrect information”.
Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the head of rights did not consider the government’s “great efforts” to “alleviate the suffering of the people”, adding that this demonstrates the “political” nature of the declaration.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that “despite actions taken, certain problems in Khuzestan must be resolved quickly”, adding that people “have the right to protest” the situation.
According to official media reports, on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the protesters could not be blamed and called on officials to deal with the crisis.
“The people have expressed their dissatisfaction… but we can’t really blame the people, their problems must be resolved,” Iranian News Agency quoted Khamenei as saying on Friday that this was the first time he directly mentioned the week-long protests. .
Foreign human rights organizations accused Iran of using illegal and excessive force to quell the Khuzestan protests, and claimed that the death toll was higher than the death toll reported by the Iranian media.