Drying up of Urmia Lake, a Large Catastrophe as a Case Study Shahin Helali Khyavi                    

Deliberate negligence of Iranian authoritiesin planning and taking into account the obvious and scientifically proven, on-going or future natural disasters and catastrophes, such as drying up of Urmia Lakein the Azerbaijani region of Iran, regardless of repeated early warnings by academic individuals and sources, international organizations such as the United Nations specific agencies, vigilant civil societies including many Azerbaijani civil right and environmental activists, and not the least local authorities has become a key concern, affecting lives of millions of people. 

We believe, based on the scientific studies available, and per local knowledge and information, that Urmia lake catastrophe is not a direct product of climate changeand or decline in the average annual rainfall, not only because the nearby Van lake in the neighboring Turkey has remained intact and live, which enjoys the same climate.

We claim that many deliberate exploitative dam-building projects implemented mainly by the construction companies attributed in or affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guardian Corps, accompanied by unbelievable number of water borehole drilling and exploitation encouraged by the authorities along with the aggressive crackdown of peaceful demonstrations to protest about happenings have all forcibly imposed a massive natural catastrophe to a vast region.

What has remained is a thick dry lake bed, massive salty particles of which are flown, during salt storms, hundreds of kilometers away affecting health, livelihoods and future of millions of people in real danger. 

What has come to the minds of Azerbaijani civil and human right activists as a dominant theory
is that Iranian regime is attempting to deliberately destroy natural resources and cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis in Iran
, as an inhumane tool and deterrence strategy to make Azerbaijanis more vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters that can make it easy for the regime to weaken demand in Azerbaijani minority rights and help increase control over developments in the region.

In this regard, we see a steady growing evidence about the link between crises, be natural or man-made, its origin, development and results and threat to minority identity and lives. 

At the end, the following questions remain unanswered: 

Do these practices produce immunization for governments? Is Urmia lake catastrophejust an unintentionalhumane error? or is it a product of inhumane deterrence policies?or otherwise why a disaster risk escalation?!! Who must be held accountable? Please help us find an answer!

Statement by Shahin Helali Khyavi on the situation of Azerbaijani Turks people in the Iran “Drying up of Urmia Lake, a Natural Catastrophe as a Case Study

9thsession of United Nations Forum on Minority Issues.25-11-2016


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