Iran has been the scene of another round of widespread protests in the past 12 days. They were sparked in Khuzestan on May 6, 2022, where several were reportedly killed, and then spread to other provinces including Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Lorestan, Kohgiloyeh-Boyerahmad, Markazi, Ardabil and Khorasan Razavi. As usual, the Islamic Republic propaganda network, inside and outside the country, online and in print, has been busy covering up facts and spreading false narratives.
The demonstrations began due to unleashed price increases for essential needs, such as bread, cooking oil, sugar and eggs. But most of the slogans have been aimed at the head of the regime. Shouts of “Death to Khamenei” echoed across the country, just like all widespread protests since 2016 that have had “overthrowing of the Islamic Republic” as their common goal. One of the main chants is: “Canon, tank, firecrackers (no matter the weapon used against us), mullahs must get lost!”
Islamic Republic has always responded to people’s objection of its existence the same way: brutal crackdown by all means necessary. The videos circulating on social media show continuous shots and tear gas fired, batons used, peaceful protesters arrested violently. Internet access has been disrupted since the beginning of the protests. CloudFlare Radar and NetBlocks have confirmed the disruption and pointed out the pattern the regime uses: The internet slows down, in some areas is completely shut down, during nightly protests.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported 7 were arrested violently in Soogh, and 7 in Yasouj, Kohgiloyeh-Boyerahmad. Khuzestan has the most number of detainees: 15 were taken away in Dezful, 5 in Shavur, 8 in Ahvaz, and 13 in Susangerd. Several minors, ages 16 and younger, among the arrestees are noticeable. The list is growing by the hour as oppressive forces raid houses and take away whoever they think has participated in protests.
In the meantime, the regime officials have been denying the facts in local and international media. Several “Islamic Consultative Assembly Representatives” have either downplayed the protests by calling the peaceful protesters “thugs” and number of them “few,” or outright denying their existence despite all the videos and citizen reports.
While Iranians are being violently treated by the Islamic Republic regime, international community has chosen to remain silent for 10 days. For the first time in weeks, Anthony Blinken mentioned Iran in his tweets but only to point out the United States has been in talks with its allies to “go back to JCPOA!” As if nothing else is happening in Iran.
A few hours later, Ned Price, US Department of State Spokesman, posted a tweet about “recognizing the rights of Iranians to protest” and “asking” the regime to behave! As if the Khamenei regime has been listening to US’ requests! In response, regime’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman objected the notion of US recognizing the rights of Iranians and called Ned Price’s statement “interference in domestic politics!”
Islamic Republic, as many officials have admitted, is afraid of another November 2019. It is doing its best to prevent another nationwide uprising, but as days go by, not only the protests have not scattered, but are becoming more organized and spread to new cities. In Tehran, and many other big cities, heavy presence of security forces are reported.
Yesterday, bus drivers went on strike in the capital and added onto the regime problems. According to the Union of Bus Drivers, 12 were arrested. Today, security forces have surrounded the area so nobody could gather. Anti-regime gatherings continue to grow, especially at nights. Shahr-e-Kurd, capital of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province, was the scene of another bout of clashes between people and Islamic Republic oppressive forces.
It is time for the international community to support the civil society in Iran in their quest to accomplish freedom they deserve. If they support the people, they will also reach peace in the Middle East – and not only there.