Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, April 5, 2019 - In the final days of March and the beginning of the Persian New Year, Iran was hit by a wave of rainstorms which caused devastating flash floods throughout the country. Dozens of cities and villages drowned and thousands of people lost everything they had. The floods were more severe in parts of the country leaving destruction, havoc, and ruins. The damages in the cities of Golestan and Shiraz were reported unconceivable. In Lorestan province, especially the town of Poldokhotar destruction and damages were extremely shocking.
Although the floods have, to some extent, receded, it has left many cities destroyed and many lives shattered and the havoc still continues.
And now, the social consequences of the floods is surfacing. The first outcome of the floods is the deep distrust of people towards the corrupt officials of the regime which is escalating by the day. This distrust, of course, didn’t appear just overnight or even during the past couple of weeks of flash floods, but it has built up during past 40 years of the regime’s actions and repression. One of such catastrophe happened in Poldokhtar city in Lorestan province, which continues to date.
Lorestan Province talks
In regards to the appalling condition in Poldokhtar with all connections to the outside world cut, Lorestan province governor on Tuesday, April 2 confessed to the vast and massive destruction in the province, especially Poldokhtar. He claimed, “Different measures have been taken to reach out the town population and about 2 o’clock in the morning, we were able to access the city through a new land road and send paramedic forces there.”
“Today [on Tuesday], from early hours of the morning, I visited the area with helicopter… the scale of destruction is inconceivable. We still do not have an exact assessment of the ruins in the neighboring villages,” he said after the claim of a short visit to the area.
He continued to say, “We don’t have any ground access to the area due to the destruction of the major road connecting Poldokhtar to Khorramabad. We have no means of communications with people there. In general, all of the villages near the river on the path to this town have been totally submerged.”
The governor claimed that everybody has been evacuated and the Red Crescent helicopters and the military in Khorramabad are taking the matter in hand. But he failed to say anything about the rescue operation of the people.
“We anticipate that a number of helicopters will be dispatched to the flood-ravaged areas and we hope they get there as soon as possible because there are massive areas that need services,” the governor claimed. “We are doing our best to reach Zal Bridge near Poldokhtar through Khorramabad Freeway,” he continued to say insisting on the continued lack of communication.
The governors’ comments indicate that the establishment in the region didn’t have any factual assessment of the destruction even one week after the flash floods destroyed the town, and the only effort to evaluate the situation was an aerial visit to the sight by a helicopter.
Despite the arrival of a number of paramedics, the governor didn’t mention anything about the arrival of military paramedic forces to the flood-ravaged area. Obviously, if there were any of these forces on the ground, he himself, the interior ministry and the head of the government would deafen the public by publicizing it.
Comments by the head of the Crisis Management Organization
Esmael Najjar, the head of the Crisis Management Organization commented on the crisis by saying, “The next place with major problems after Lorestan Province, is Khuzestan.”
Najjar’s comments carried by ISNA News agency indicated that armed forces and paramedics arrived in Poldokhtar area on Wednesday, a few days after the flash floods. “Relief has arrived in Lorestan from other provinces, including Isfahan, and Central province,” Najjar said.
Najjar acknowledged that calls had been made by the interior ministry officials asking all provinces to rush to the aid of Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces, but only one province expressed willingness.
Commenting on the need to evacuate some of the villages and towns in these two provinces, the head of the Crisis Management Organization said, “Some of the villages in Lorestan province might need evacuation operation. Even some other towns, such as Hoveizeh, Soosangerd, Hamidieh, and Boostan are in danger of being submerged in flood waters.”
A look at the comments quoted by Najjar shows that other than a single team of paramedics to the region, no other tangible action has been taken.
The facts and figures speak
During recent flash floods across dozens of provinces in Iran, the town of Poldokhtar was hit by this devastation on March 30 and 31. The crisis escalated to its peak on March 31st. The flood water level reached the ceilings in a number of districts forcing residents to flee to the roofs. Phone and internet connections were cut off. The people were stranded without clean water, food, heating system, and medicine. Some even fled to the mountains and higher grounds only to see that their town and livelihoods being washed out by the floods.
A brief picture of the extent of the catastrophe
The governor of Ilam province, west of Iran said on March 31 that there is another town near Poldokhtar called Mazhin. This town has 19 villages and 7 tribes’ around it with the population of 7,000 habitats and more than 2,000 families. The roads to almost all of these areas have been blocked and we have no information about them for the past 24 hours.
International media reported that residents of Poldokhtar have sought refuge at the roofs of their homes. Controversial comments coming from different government officials indicate that even they don’t know if Poldokhtar is reachable or not. This has contributed to the general distrust of the government and the system in whole.
People’s distrust of the regime
Government-run media reported on March 31 that the head of Omid coalition has expressed concern about the “lack of people’s trust of the government.” According to a member of Omid coalition the people’s trust of the government has been “seriously damaged.” Another high-level cleric said, “the people have developed a peculiar feeling towards the regime.”
This “peculiar feeling”! Is no other than what Shiraz Friday prayer said after the floods engulfed the city. He explicitly told reporters and province officials that “I went among the people and was bombarded with curses and obscenities that got into my nerves.”
So, it is crystal clear that the balance of power between the people and the dictatorship ruling Iran has tipped in the favor of the people.