26 Jul 2018
Ahwaz palm trees at risk as the regime’s policies are heavily taking toll
The crimes of the Islamic Republic of Iran against Ahwazis have no limit. Anything related to the life of these people is a subject of an attack and is at the mercy of regime’s sinister schemes. The aggressive actions are directed at people, places, animals, livelihoods, water and even the air. During the last 40 years, there was a rapid decrease in the number of palm trees in Ahwaz region, leading to the destruction of five million out of six million palm trees in the region. However, as a result of the government destructive policy, the remaining one million palm trees are left to die from thirst, causing hardships for many farmers.
The palm trees are considered the main source of income for many people in Ahwaz. The region was the main producer and exporter of date product in Iran, however, farmers who have relied completely on these trees are now facing uncertainty and dark future as the regime refuses to provide them with the required water for their farmlands.
Although a palm tree is capable of resisting harsh condition, yet it can be vulnerable to salty water and die in short time. The Deputy Rural Cooperative Organization of Ahwaz explained that ‘the input volume of Karun River water has been severely reduced. As a result of the low level of the water in the river, we have witnessed the surge of salty water from the sea into Karun River in which increased the amount of salinity of the water in this river.’ 
In addition, the construction of Gotvand Dam where the bed lake is located on a mountain of salt, has contributed to increasing salinity of Karun river. This dam has been described as‘the factory of salinity,’  ‘museum of environmental lesson,’ ‘environmental disaster’ and ‘the big national mistake’ that has increased the salinity of Karun River to 25 percent. 
These disasters need intervention from the United Nations that should send the concerned specialised agencies to monitor the aforementioned situation and to remind the Iranian regime of its international obligations in terms of the protection of human rights and to prevent environmental disaster in Ahwaz region. Under the international human rights law, the Iranian state is responsible for redressing the current state-caused environmental situation that impacts the enjoyment of various civil and economic rights guaranteed by multiple international treaties which Iran recognised and signed.
 Paniz Milani, ‘The holding of funeral ceremony for the death of palm trees in Khorramshahr/ The drying of 6 million Palm trees’ (Borna, 20 July 2018) <https://www.borna.news/بخش–اجتماعی-4/731120-برگزاری–مراسم–ختم–مرگ–نخل–ها–در–خرمشهر–خشک–شدن–میلیون–نخل> accessed 26 July 2018.
 Kayhan, ‘Gotvand Dam, the factory of saltiness (report from far and near)’ (29 April 2014) <http://kayhan.ir/fa/news/11429> accessed 26 July 2018.
 Hamid Bayati, ‘Iran, Ahvaz, Gotvand Dam, museum of environmental lesson’ (You Tube, 22 February 2015) <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtX9TevP2dg> accessed 26 July 2018.
 Salamat News, ‘Fair of environmental disaster in Gotvand’ (17 August 2015) <http://www.salamatnews.com/news/158519/هراس–از–فاجعه–زیست%E2%80%8Cمحیطی–در–گتوند> accessed 26 July 2018.
 Sharareh Azizi, ‘The implementation of Gotvand Dam was a big national mistake/ Karun water has become saltier by 25%’ (Manoto, 3 May 2016) <https://www.manoto.news/news/hdzxsd/news22264> accessed 26 July 2018.
By Abdulrahman Hetteh