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Residents of Gilan protest the Iranian regime’s lack of response to snowstorm disaster

Snowfall in Gilan province has caused a major crisis for the residents
Snowfall in Gilan province has caused a major crisis for the residents

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, February 14, 2020—Protests erupted in different cities of Gilan province, northern Iran, after the government failed to prevent and respond to snowstorm that have caused a crisis across the province. At least eight people were killed and hundreds injured after a wave of cold weather and heavy snow hit the province. Five people died in an avalanche and two more were buried in snow. Several people have been reported missing.

More than 200,000 people are suffering from electricity outage and several major roads and highways have been blocked by the heavy snowfall. Telephone lines have also been cut off and water pipes have frozen. The people of the area are faced with a serious shortage of potable water.

Absent government relief efforts, the residents of the disaster-struck areas are forced to take matters into their own hands. The lack of services have triggered protests in different cities including Rasht and Lahijan.

The residents of Rasht’s Jamaran district protested to the incompetence of authorities and electricity outages that have lasted for several days.  

The protesters were chanting, “We don’t want incompetent officials.”

In Lahijan, a group of residents held a demonstration protesting the electricity outage that has left them defenseless against the freezing cold weather.

One of the residents of Lahijan said, “There are no facilities. In Rasht and Lahijan, we don’t have water and electricity, only gas.” This resident also said that only 25 percent of bakeries are working, which is making it difficult for the people of the city to provide their needs.

Another resident said although the government had forecasted the freezing weather ten days in advance it did not take the necessary measures to deal with the disaster. “Look at our alley. How am I supposed to take my kid to the hospital if he falls sick?”

“How is it that the Crisis Management Office was taken by surprise? They knew about this,” another resident says.

“There was no surprise. They knew about this a week in advance,” another resident, a middle-aged man said. “They have sold all the [public assets] and don’t care about the people. They don’t do anything for the people.”

“The officials didn’t even visit the people. We called the water and electricity company and told them that electricity cables have been torn. They didn’t react,” one of the residents said.

“The officials only give promises. They don’t do anything,” a man said, recounting how the torn electricity cables had nearly caused a fire incident. “The governor says we have fixed everything, we are on alert, the people are satisfied. Who’s satisfied?”

One of the residents of Rasht said, “I’m sure you are aware of the disastrous situation in Gilan. Even though there were warnings by the weather forecasting stations inside the country and abroad and relevant online weather forecasting websites, neither the governor nor the mayor took no preventative measures. In many of the areas of Rasht, Lahijan, Langrud, Astaneh Ashrafieh and Shaft, there’s no water, electricity and telephone lines. In some areas, there’s not even gas. The conditions in the villages is even worse and their connection to other cities have been cut off.

“Is this misery what the people deserve after 40 years? I ask all the people of Gilan to rise in protest to the incompetent officials of the municipality and governorate. Hold them to account for this disaster. We alone can save Iran. The only way out of this disastrous condition is regime change.”

Interestingly, while the regime had spent huge sums for the 40-day mourning ceremony of its dead chief terrorist Qassem Soleimani, it had not taken minimal preventative measure in respect to the snowstorm of Gilan.

While urging the people of Iran to help the disaster-stricken residents of Gilan, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said, “By wasting our nation’s wealth on warmongering, nuclear & missile projects, mullahs have rendered our compatriots defenseless at times of such incidents.”

 

 

One state-run newspaper wrote, “The snow was predictable and manageable, and this is exactly what the officials of Gilan didn’t do. Earthquakes might not be very predictable, but snow and rain surely are. The people have been cut off of electricity, water and gas and their lives have been disrupted because of the snowfall. We have officials who are very good at being caught by surprise. Even the rain catches them by surprise as we saw in Shiraz last year. It’s as if it’s not limited to one area. Officials across the country share this trait.”