Raise your voice and demand your right.. Let the rule of the guide fall.” With these words, the demonstrators in Narmak district, northeast of Tehran, protested against the rise in the prices of flour, bread and other food commodities in the country, after the government lifted subsidies on it.
The protesters also chanted, “We are not afraid of cannons and tanks,” and “Down with the mullahs’ rule,” according to video clips posted by Iranian activists on social media.
In addition, the protests spread to different cities in the country due to the rise in prices and the severe shortage of some other foodstuffs.
Similar protests were witnessed in the cities of Borugard and Drod in Lorestan province, Gunkan and Farsan in Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari province, Dehdasht in Kohkiluyeh province and Boyer Ahmed province.
“Calls of Enemies”
The security forces responded with tear gas to the demonstrators, who chanted slogans against the country’s rulers and the government alike.
While Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi indicated in televised statements that the demonstrations were not large-scale, saying, “Our people did not respond to the calls of the enemies, only a few dozen people gathered.”
Inflation in Iran (AB)
price increase 300%
This spark of anger was sparked a few days ago, after the government cut subsidies on imported wheat, which led to a 300 percent increase in prices for a group of flour-based food commodities, at a time when the official inflation rate in Iran is about 40 percent, while it exceeds 50 percent in some estimates.
More than half of the country’s 82 million people live below the poverty line.
The Russian military operation in Ukraine has made the situation worse, after food prices have skyrocketed across the Middle East due to crises in global supply chains, especially since Tehran imports half of its cooking oils from Kyiv, where fighting has prevented many farmers from their fields.
It also imports quantities of wheat from Russia, although it produces almost half of its wheat.
In addition, the smuggling of Iranian subsidized bread to neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan increased, while hunger spread throughout the region.
In addition to those reasons above, the drought has already put a significant pressure on the Iranian economy. Western sanctions imposed on the country for its violations of the nuclear agreement have also increased the difficulties.
From a shop in Iran (AFP)
The specter of fuel protests
However, regardless of the reasons, these protests brought to mind the demonstrations of raising fuel prices three years ago, when large-scale protests, the most violent since the establishment of the “Islamic Republic” in 1979, swept all over the country, which led to the killing of hundreds of demonstrators in an unprecedented crackdown. According to what was reported at the time by Amnesty International.
Perhaps this is what prompted the authorities in the country to be on alert, and cut off the Internet in many areas for fear of its expansion, in a repetition of the fuel scenario.