By INU Staff
INU - There have been reports of more than a dozen injured people at a protest in the north-western area of Iran. Families of workers who were laid off from their jobs in the Aqdarreh gold mine in Western Azerbaijan on 15th June took to the streets to peacefully protest.
They were protesting because the local people are living in extreme poverty and their situations have been made worse by the job losses.
The police forces attacked the crowed and numerous people were beaten. Some women were treated so violently that they suffered serious injuries, with one woman reported to have been knocked unconscious.
All the protesters wanted was a job opportunity for the families following news that officials form the mine hired people who were not local to the area.
There were several arrests carried out too.
Some of those injured went to get medical treatment in nearby towns, whereas others felt more secure being treated in the privacy of their own home, fearing being arrested by security agents.
The gold mine in Aqdarreh is the second largest gold mine in the country. It is approximately 30 km from the city of Takab. It is the first active mine to start operating in the country. Mining started a decade ago and it produces 2.2 tons of pure gold per year. Its headquarters are in the city of Karaj.
Since mining started, the natural ecosystem, environment and ecology in the area have been greatly damaged. Because of the extraction process local people have had their livelihoods destroyed. Chemicals are killing animals and farming produce will not be purchased because it is very contaminated.
A pond that surrounds the mine (for outtake and gold ore purification purposes) has destroyed the region’s ecology. Furthermore, as a result of this, natural water in the area is unclean and drinking water cannot be consumed by the local people.
There are also numerous reports of people becoming very sick in the area, with illnesses and diseases such as lung infections and cancer.
In 2014, approximately 250 workers protested against the termination of their contracts at the same mine. The Iranian regime’s judiciary said that 17 of the protesters were charged with inciting others to protest and were given prison sentences, fines and lashes.
It is very common for peaceful protests in Iran to turn into serious incidents. Security forces arrive and treat the people with aggressive behaviour and violence.