Activists in southwest Iran have launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the dire levels of air pollution across the country, and particularly in Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchistan provinces.
The “We can’t breathe either” initiative calls on politicians to take action on the environmental hazards residents from the southwestern provinces face regularly, including extremely poor air quality due to repeated dust storms. At the same time, it seeks to inform the Iranian public, engaging them to apply pressure on the government and appealing to their own experiences of enduring high levels of air pollution. Campaign slogans include “Inhabitants of the capital can’t breathe,” and “Tehran’s inhabitants are asphyxiated.”
According to the Gandom Press website, the campaign highlights the fact that pollution is a countrywide issue, but also draws attention to the fact the needs outside of the capital are often neglected. Tehran residents have been accused of ignoring the situation in Khuzestan and other provinces.
Provinces in southwestern Iran have endured devastating dust storms in recent years, with 2015 being a particularly harsh year for residents. In early February, authorities ordered the closure of schools, universities and government buildings in Khuzestan after dangerous levels of dust particles were recorded in the air. In nearby Ahvaz, city officials distributed face masks to residents. The region also suffered substantial economic fallout as a result of the storms. Gandom Press has published widespread coverage of the damage and impact in recent months.
The toxic dust storms are partially attributed to general climate change and ongoing damage to the environment through bad land management, which has led to the deterioration of wetlands.
Organizers of the “We Can’t Breathe Either” campaign hope a long-term solution for coping with the storms can be reached — and stress that hopes for significant rainfall must be matched by real action. Those taking part say it is in no way a political campaign. Its aim is to raise awareness and facilitate change in the lives of people hit hardest by this ongoing environmental disaster.
Read the original article in Persian
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