DUBAI, March 2 Farmers from a drought-stricken
Iranian province who clashed with security forces in a protest
over water supply have met officials in an attempt to settle the
dispute, local media reported.
The farmers in central Isfahan province have for years
protested against what they say is the unfair diversion of water
from the Zayandeh Rud river to supply other areas, leaving their
farms dry and threatening their livelihoods.
A pipeline transporting water to Yazd province was smashed
in February, the opposition website Kaleme said. A demonstration
by farmers near the pipeline on Wednesday led to clashes with
security forces and three police buses were set on fire, Kaleme
Demonstrations against authorities are rare in Iran, but
there have been isolated protests by labour groups and consumers
against delays in payment of wages and high food prices in the
Fifty-five farmers met local officials to air their
grievances, Isfahan provincial governor Alireza Zaker-Isfahani
was quoted as saying on Saturday by Iran's semi-official Mehr
"During the meeting the farmers expressed their viewpoints
and the provincial executive agencies also shared their issues
with the farmers, and both sides were looking to solve the
problems," Zaker-Isfahani said.
"The issues of the last few days caused problems both for
the farmers and for the executive agencies, and we believe that
we cannot respond to demands in a volatile environment."
Isfahan's Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Yousef
Tabatabaei-Nejad, said the smashing of the pipeline to Yazd was
against Islamic law, but expressed sympathy for the farmers'
"The livelihood of the people of east Isfahan is dependent
on farming and provincial officials must help them in other ways
in the current drought conditions," he was quoted as saying by
Mehr on Saturday.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Pravin Char)