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Saving Karoun is Saving "Life"! Let’s help it stay alive!

Statement by Ahwaz Cultural Centre (Meshdakh)

Karoun River is the largest and most effluent river running in the south west of Iran, and the source of livelihood of the Arab and Bakhtiari people since the old times, has seen the rise of the first human civilization alongside its banks. 

This river has been the inspiration for the Hammurabi’s Code of Laws (Code of Hammurabi, 1790 BC), the first written laws in human history.

It was not that long ago when the painting canvases of the French lady, Mrs. Dieulafoy, were adorned with paintings of the lions living in the groves alongside this river, during her three trips over the river between 1881 and 1886. Lion Frieze painting is on display at the Louvre.

Not too long has gone by since the British (Lynch brothers, 1888), after travelling thousands of miles, succeeded in signing the largest trade agreement in their time, i.e. permission to navigate in Karoun.

The reddish color of the river due to the muddy waters during flooding and the verdure and tranquility of the woods alongside the river, during the history of this river have not only been a source of life and livelihood for the people, but have also exhilarated the sentiments of poets, songwriters and singers and created the most exquisite chants and the most epic poems and the most sentimental tales.

But Karoun has been living in misery and agony for a long time.

The seemingly ambitious economic plans such as development and expansion of sugarcane production and transferring the headwaters of Karoun to inlands, in addition to excessive and haphazard building of dams and without proper ecological studies, have not only diminished the flow of water in the river bed, but have also caused the discharge of pollutants, the urban sewage and hospital waste and lethal drainage of effluents from under the sugarcane farms into the river.

Today, it has become crystal clear that planning and executing such projects, regardless of any overt or covert reason and any rivalry inside the regime among the powerful circle in the capital, have not only not benefited the people, but also calls us for labeling such “foolish ambitions”  as “deliberate genocide”.

Now, and at a time when the exuberant, dynamic and mindful youth of Ahwaz, instead of rejoicing and celebrating the New Year (Eid) have determined to hold hands and make a human chain to prevent the death of this life-giving river, we stand by these youth and call upon all the freedom loving people around the world who cherish life to stand by this humanitarian movement.