Protesters who flocked to Tehran’s Grand Bazaar area Saturday chanted against poverty, corruption and the ever-increasing cost of living, amid bad economic news.
In response to an online call to protest at the Grand Bazaar, crowds formed in the area around noontime despite massive intervention of security forces, both male and female, and plainclothes agents who had stationed themselves in large numbers in various locations to prevent protesters from congregating in any one place.
“Poverty, corruption, unaffordable prices, We will go on until toppling [the regime]”, protesters chanted while security forces tried to disperse them violently. Videos posted on social media show protesters and onlookers booing security forces and shouting “Scoundrels, scoundrels” at them.
Chanting began as did the firing of tear gas, shooting of plastic bullets, beatings with batons, and many random arrests by security forces when numbers grew big enough around the Grand Bazaar, a maze of corridors running over 10 km in the heart of the capital with several entrances.
People chanting “Poverty, corruption, unaffordable prices” and vowing to topple the regime at Tehran Grand Bazaar area.
Shops in several of the corridors, including the goldsmith’s lane, and a large shopping mall in the heart of the bazaar and adjacent streets closed when protests began outside.
Inflation is currently hovering around 50 percent. In the past few days this week rial has further depreciatedagainst the dollar and other major currencies, pushing up prices for many basic commodities. The dollar rose to an unprecedented high of 440,000 rials earlier this week, forcing the Central Bank of Iran governor Ali Salehabadi to resign. The new governor, Mohammad-Reza Farzin vowed to strengthen the rial again, and intervened on Saturday with some success.
On Saturday employees of several large companies, including the oil refinery in Abadan in the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and another one in Arak Iran, staged strikes in protest to low salaries and wages and in Rasht, capital of the northern province of Gilan shops closed in protest to the government.
People running from security forces in bazaar area.
Videos posted on social media show female students who took to the street in Najafabad, a very conservative city of around 300,000 in Esfahan Province, also chanting against the government for poverty and corruption which they said would only end when the regime is toppled. “This homeland will not thrive before the [ruling] mullahs are dead!”, protesters chantedwho also accused the government of sending Iran's “dollars” to Lebanon while putting the youth in prison at home.
Meanwhile, in the Kurdish city of Javanrud, the third-largest city in the western Kermanshah Province, unrest that began Saturday morning escalated after security forces shot and killed a 22-year-old protester, Borhan Eliasi, in clashes with protesters who were trying to convene to hold memorials for seven others who had been killed forty days earlier during a spate of protests in Kurdish cities in late November.
Several others were shot and injured in Javanrud where people barricaded the streets Saturday morning when they were attacked. Angry protesters later stormed and ransacked two government banks, Keshavarzi and Sepah, and burned a road checkpoint kiosk.
Eliasi was buried a few hours later with thousands attending the burial ceremony at a nearby village cemetery. “We’re children of fire and blood, We will take revenge for our martyr”, participants chanted in Kurdish.
Elsewhere, in the restive city of Samirom, also in Esfahan Province, a large crowd gathered in front of the local governor’s office and protested while calling him “Daish-minded”. Protesters also chanted “Death to Khamenei”. On Thursday thousands had marched from the city to a cemetery in the snowy countryside to honor the memory of a young protester, Ali Abbasi, who was shot dead by security forces inn November.