Security forces clashed with protesters in Tehran on Sunday while several other cities were scenes of protests over the dire economic situation engulfing Iran.
Videos surfaced in social media on Sunday showing security forces beating the striking shopkeepers and breaking shop windows in Tehran while footage from other cities such as Esfahan, Shiraz, and Arak show merchants rallying in protest to the sharp and irregular rise in taxes for private businesses.
Earlier in the day, crowds in Tehran gathered outside the city’s power distribution company’s office in eastern Tehran to protest regular blackouts, which have increased in recent weeks as summer heat begins and air-conditioning use increases pushing consumption to a peak. The country faces a deficit of about 14,000 megawatts in electricity production.
The protesting shop owners in various cities chanted slogans against the government and corruption and mismanagement by the authorities, threatening to intensify their protests. Iran’s rial is hitting new lows against the US dollar daily amid runaway inflation and economic chaos, with one US dollar surpassing 333,000 rials on Sunday. This represents a more than 25-percent decline since late March and a 10-fold drop since 2017. ()
Bazaar or traditional retail market strikes have a deep historical root in Iran and signal a serious political and economic crisis. The bazaar strikes played a major roleboth in the Constitutional Revolution of the early 20th century and the 1979 revolution against the monarchy.
In the central city of Esfahan, people mostly pensioners, chanted “Death to Russia” and "The Russian Embassy Is the Den of Espionage," alluding to a phrase used by the former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini and other Islamic Republic officials to refer to the former US embassy.
In the southwestern city of Shiraz in Fars province, security forces arrested pensioners who planned to hold their protest outside the office of Shiraz Friday prayer imam, who is the Supreme Leader’s representative in the province.
Videos of the pensioners’ protest in Shiraz shows people chanting slogans in support of the Pahlavi dynasty that ruled the country before the Islamic Revolution, saying “God Bless Your Soul Reza Shah” the father of the last shah of Iran who reigned until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941 and the grandfather of the exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi living in the United States.
The Sunday strikes and protests took place on the backdrop a series of demonstrations and marches since early May when the government scrapped a food import subsidy. Retirees and teachers in particular have organized to demand higher pensions and wages as incomes fast lose their purchasing power.
A workers’ trade union said that security forces attacked a gathering of retirees in front of the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran and arrested several, using force to disperse others.
The Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations issued a statement recently announcing the next round of nationwide protestsslated for Thursday, calling on teachers all over the country to take to streets and demand their legal rights.
Teachers have been often holding protests for nearly a year, but the political situation in Iran has worsened in recent months, with a growing sense that social chaos and political insurrection might ensue.