Bungled Flood Response Lead to Cause Massive Protests
In the aftermath of a series of devastating floods that ravaged more than 27 provinces in Iran, thousands of survivors say that they have been abandoned by the regime. While the Tasnim news agency and other state-run media outlets continue to report that the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Basij Forces, and other regime agencies are providing assistance to flood victims, reports from local residents and dozens of videos shared on social media tell a different story.
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) April 10, 2019
Flood Victims in Khuzestan Left without Shelter
The southwestern province of Khuzestan sustained heavy damage from the floods, leaving numerous people homeless and entire towns destroyed. In one video shared on social media, a man broke down sobbing, saying that he had still not received a tent one week after losing his home.
Khuzestan Province, SW #Iran
"How much cruelty?! For 7 days we've been surrounded by water. You're saying the gov doesn't have a tent for me? My sister is sleeping out in the cold… To whomever I say, they say it's not my responsibility… should I kill myself?" #IranFloods pic.twitter.com/Qup8JVV8w0
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) April 10, 2019
“How much cruelty?! I have been surrounded by water for seven days. They can’t come here and give me a tent?! My sister is sleeping under a tree. Didn’t we participate in the [Iran-Iraq] war to defend our country,” he asked.
“Who should I ask (for help)? Whomever I ask, they say it’s not my responsibility. I asked the IRGC, the army, and the Governor. Who should I ask then?! You give me an address to go wherever you say. Maybe I should kill myself. Why am I even alive?!” he cried.
Other videos show people in Khuzestan making their own flood barriers bags filled with rice and sand.
April 7 – Near Shush, Khuzestan Province, southwest #Iran
Locals striving to prevent floodwaters from engulfing their village.
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) April 7, 2019
Pictures show young men sleeping on their homemade barriers to protect them at night.
Women Assist Lorestan Flood Victims
A video from Lorestan Province shows Iranian Arab women making bread for flood victims in the western province.
Lorestan Province was among the hardest-hit by the recent floods, and many villages are still inaccessible by roads. Residents in these areas have still not received badly-needed assistance from the regime, so Iranian youth are walking for hours through mountainous terrain to deliver supplies to their countrymen.
Waiting for an Opportunity
The failure of the regime to provide assistance to its people after the deadly floods have led to growing anger among the population. A number of regime officials and state-run media outlets and journalists have expressed concern that this anger could lead to a revolt.
Former regime intelligence official and political strategist Saied Hajarian worried that the regime’s failure to provide flood assistance could lead to distrust in the government.
“We have to take note that the crisis of distrust will lead to a crisis of discredit to the extent that people will prefer neutral foreign arbitrators to their Iranian counterparts,” he said.
In an April 9th interview published on the Fararu website, “reformist” journalist Abbas Abdi warned that the people were already angry with the regime and that the floods would cause additional protests.
“The people are waiting for an opportunity to vent out [their frustration] and what better opportunity than floods and similar incidents,” he added.
The Shoaar Sal website, which is affiliated with the regime, acknowledged that the regime has been negligent in addressing the floods in Lorestan Province, warning that the “people’s increased distrust will have horrifying effects in the future.”
Lack of Public Trust
The Ebtekar daily newspaper, which is closely tied to regime President Hassan Rouhani, wrote that the Iranian people no longer trust state-run media, turning instead to social media for flood-related news. The MEK uses its network inside Iran to share information on social media and the Internet as a whole. This has been invaluable in countering the mullahs’ propaganda and giving the Iranian people the power to access accurate news.
It admitted, “We continue to witness the public’s lack of trust in official media against social networks. The internet and reports on social media are more trusted by the people than official media.”
The regime has consistently underreported the extent of the damages and fatalities caused by catastrophic floods. Official reports claim that 70 people died in more than 20 days of flooding in 25 provinces.
April 6 – Mamulan, Lorestan Province, western #Iran
Locals protesting not receiving any state aid days after recent floods.
"Don't show us videos of Gaza & Lebanon. Don't tell us to be afraid of becoming another Syria. This is worse than Syria… Where's the help?"#IranFloods pic.twitter.com/agIQxNB9uu
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) April 6, 2019
Local reports and eyewitness accounts contradict that number. Several hundred men, women, and children are believed to have died in the floods, mostly in the cities of Shiraz and Poldokhtar.
The regime’s Attorney General attempted to suppress accurate reporting on the floods and the government’s response to them by threatening publishers of “fake news” on the floods, saying that anyone found publishing information contradicting official reports would be dealt with for “disrupting the security of the country.”
According to Tehran’s Chief of Police, four people were arrested in the nation’s capital for “spreading rumors” about the regime’s botched response to the floods.