People in the city of Dezful in Khuzestan province of southwest Iran took to the streets on Wednesday night local time protesting rising inflation and skyrocketing prices of basic goods, including even bread. Their rallies included marching in the streets, blocking roads by setting tires on fire and chanting slogans, specifically targeting senior regime officials.
Regime authorities have reacted harshly by dispatching security and anti-riot units to the streets and disrupting internet access in various cities.
Protesters in Dezful were seen chanting:
“Death to Khamenei!,” specifically targeting regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
“Death to Raisi!,” referring to regime President Ebrahim Raisi
“We don’t want the mullahs’ regime!”
“Mullahs must get lost!”
“No fear! We’re all together!”
These protests in Dezful and other cities have been in response to a recent hike in the prices of flour and various types of bread, parallel to statements issued by regime officials that the prices of poultry, eggs, milk, dairy products, and cooking oil will increase from Thursday, May 12.
Authorities dispatched a large number of security forces to Dezful and across Khuzestan province to confront popular gatherings in various areas. In response, protesters began chanting, “Have no fear! We all stand together!”
And protests have continued despite incoming reports of security forces conducting nightly raids targeting the homes of identified protesters and activists in different cities of Khuzestan province.
There are also numerous reports of internet disruptions and complete blackouts for mobile devices, and severely slowed internet connections in numerous areas throughout Iran.
Netblocks, the international internet monitoring organization, confirmed these reports about temporary internet blackouts imposed on the Rightel internet service company. Other such mobile networks and fixed-line providers in Iran were also experiencing deterioration, according to the Netblocks report, adding that “slowdown may limit the free flow of information amid protests.”
The protests in Khuzestan province began last week. On April 26 state TV in Iran announced a five-to-seven-fold increase in the prices of various types of bread. The regime’s official IRNA news agency wired a report on May 4 emphasizing that “the only solution left is canceling all bread subsidies,” signaling an unbridled skyrocketing of bread prices across the board.
As a result, prices of various types of bread began to increase throughout Iran in an unprecedented manner. The price of sandwich buns jumped by 1,300 percent. People on social media were reporting the different price hikes, forcing the regime’s state media, such as the “Eslahat News” website on May 3, to acknowledge the fact that people can’t even purchase simple sandwiches as the bread has become far too expensive.
Ebrahim Sayami, a senior official of the regime’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, announced on May 5 that bread will be rationed, meaning each loaf of bread will be sold at 100,000 rials (around 35 cents). In fear of the resulting social backlash, there are reports claiming regime officials have denied any intentions to ration bread.
In a letter to the regime’s president, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Basij paramilitary warned of possible protests over the prices of basic goods. “The society is not ready for sudden price hikes,” the text reads, adding such decisions can lead to social unrest.
This is the latest of such warnings by different regime officials and institutions. In November 2019, a sudden increase in the price of gasoline triggered a nationwide protest. The IRGC Basij played a key role in suppressing the uprising and murdering more than 1,500 protesters.
A senior member of the mullahs’ sanctuary in the city of Qom said on May 5 that if “skyrocketing prices are not brought under control, there won’t be a revolution. We should expect a revolt by the hungry; a revolt is far more dangerous than a revolution!”