As Tehran bus drivers continue their strike, anti-government protests took place Tuesday in other Iranian cities and spread to central Esfahan province.
According to social media reports security forces have maintained a heavy presence in several large cities including the capital Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Kermanshah and Ahvaz as well as some smaller towns in western provinces where protests have taken place in the past two weeks.
Tuesday evening protesters took to the streets in Golpayegan, a city of around 50,000 in the central Esfahan Province, for the first time since protests against the government’s decision to remove an import subsidy for staple food and medicine imports began in the southwestern Khuzestan Province two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC) said in its last post on its Telegram channel Tuesday that a dozen drivers were detained.
Authoritiess have continued using police buses and drivers hastily recruited from the Revolutionary Guards and municipality workers to transport passengers in the capital for free.
Bus drivers on strike have vowed not to surrender until their demands, including payment of overdue wages and a 57 percent raise are approved by the Supreme Labor Council more than two months ago, are met.
The authorities have also apparently banned the media from reporting on the protests and the soaring prices of staple foods including bread, pasta, cooking oil, chicken, eggs, and dairy products that sparked the protests. Newspapers and websites in Tehran did not cover the protests on Wednesday.
Access to the Internet has repeatedly been restricted in areas affected by the protests to prevent the news of protests from spreading and images being uploaded to social media.
Videos posted on social media show protesters in Golpayegan chanting against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and President Ebrahim Raisi, clerics in power, and the Basij militia of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
“Khamenei Is a Murderer, His Rule Is Illegitimate” and “We Don’t Want IRGC Rule”, protesters in Golpayegan chanted and urged the regular police force, which has a better reputation than the IIRGC, to support them. The Basij militia, under IRGC command, is often deployed to suppress protesters and has been accused of brutalizing protesters.
There were also reports of further protests Tuesday evening in Jouneghan in the western Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province where so far security forces have shot dead at least two protesters. Social media reports said Tuesday the authorities had completely shut down internet access in Jouneghan and security forces were shooting at protesters.
Unrest in Shahr-e Kord, the capital of the same province, continued Tuesday and there are videos showing security forces attacking protesters and arresting them. Social media users have also posted videos showing tanks being transported to Shahr-e Kord from neighboring Esfahan Province on Wednesday but the authenticity of the videos cannot be verified.
On Tuesday security forces clashed with people attending the funeral of Pishali Ghalebi, a citizen killed by security forces during protests on Friday, in a small village near Aligudarz in the western Lorestan Province. Ghalebi was reportedly shot in the head in Dezful, Khuzestan Province,while standing in front of the window inside his house and watching the protests.
The number of protesters arrested by security forces is not clear but so far at least six deaths have been reported by social media users.