Photo posted on Flickr by Alexandros Papadopoulos
Iranian activists tried to stage a demonstration in the northwest of the country last week, but were met with a heavy police presence that led to violent clashes. Their cause? The country’s biggest lake, which they say is at risk of disappearing.
Protesters and security forces clash in Urmia on August 27. Video posted on YouTube by sherlock72
Security forces on motorcycles try to contain protesters in Urmia on August 27. Video posted on YouTube by xDarkNicotine
Lake Urmia, located in the northwestern region of Iranian Azerbaijan, is the country’s largest lake, with a current, but dwindling, surface area of 5,200 square meters. A bridge built over the lake links the region’s two major cities, Urmia and Tabriz.
The lake has lost 60 per cent of its water over the past 10 years. While the government blames the problem on drought, local environmentalists say that dams built in the vicinity of the lake have significantly worsened the situation. If the lake disappears, they say, millions of people will be forced to leave the region – not only northwest Iran, but also in neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The protest on August 27 was organised by local activists after the Iranian parliament voted against allocating funds to irrigate the lake on August 16.
Activists say that several people were arrested.
Lake Urmia in 2003 (left); a notably drier Lake Urmia in 2010 (right).

Lake Urmia photographed from a plane in 2010. Photo posted to Flickr by jankie.