A new round of protests began on May 5 over the sudden and extraordinary increase in the price of food staples in several cities in the southwest province of Khuzestan, including Ahvaz, Sousangerd, and Izeh.
The protests started after the government removed subsidies on basic food items which have sent prices skyrocketing including the price of non-traditional bread, flour, dairy products, cooking oil, poultry, and eggs.
Reports say the protests spread to at least 31 cities, including in the restive province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari where protesters attacked and set fire to a base belonging to the Basij, the paramilitary branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) tasked with crushing protests.
Protests spread in 31 cities across Iran
The protests started on May 5 in Susangerd, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, and rapidly expanded to 31 cities dozens of provinces such as Ardabil, Khuzestan, Lorestan, and Razavi Khorasan.
The protests turned political with slogans calling for top leaders to step down.
“Raisi, you liar! Where are your promises”, “mullahs get lost”, and “Raisi, shame on you! Let go of the country!” “down with Khamenei” were among the chants.
Social media videos showed security forces warning protesters that there were “thugs” among them who would “endanger their security” and asked protesters to disperse. They did not listen.
Internet shut down and disturbances
Internet disturbances were initially reported on May 5 in Ahvaz. The disruptions later spread to 10 other cities.
Global internet monitor NetBlocks confirmed the internet disruption in Iran amid protests, a potential move by the authorities to prevent protesters from communicating with each other and sharing videos on social media.
Crackdown on protests over price hikes in food staples
During the protests, the regime implemented severe security measures, deploying large numbers of security forces in dozens of cities including the capital Tehran.
Social media reports said security forces used tear gas, pellet guns, and even live bullets against protesters.
Security forces used live bullets to shoot directly at protesters in eight cities including Andimeshk, Izeh, Pordanjan, Cholicheh, Sureshjan, Shahre Kord, Faresan, and Hafashjan.
Published videos of the protests over price hikes in food staples show the state security forces carrying MP5 guns, Kalashnikovs, sniper rifles, and vehicles equipped with DShK Heavy Machine Gun.
The suppression of protests in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province was particularly violent. Images and videos shared on social media show the state security forces directly firing at protesters.
The regime has until now arrested about 450 people in the restive province of Khuzestan. Reports say hundreds of other protesters were detained in other provinces including many from the same family.
The regime has expanded its crackdown on civil society. Numerous labor, civil and political rights activists have been arbitrarily arrested.
Media outlets had reported at least six deaths among protesters since the protests, two of whom have been confirmed by state officials: Sa’adat Hadipour who was killed in Hafshejan (Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province), and Pishali Ghalebi Hajivand, who was killed in Andimeshk (Khuzestan Province).
Many other protesters were injured, mostly with pellet guns.
The slain men have been identified as Pish-Ali Hajivand, killed in Dezful, Omid Soltani, killed in Andimeshk, Hamid Qasempour, killed in Faresan, Sa’adat Hadipour, killed in Hafashjan, Jamshid Mokhtari Juneqani, killed in Juneqan, and Behrouz Eslami, killed in Babaheydar.
Funerals were held for Pish-Ali Hajivand and Jamshid Mokhtari.
Source » iran-hrm