Riots in Iran after rising gas prices

Very quickly, the slogans of the demonstrators in a hundred cities, which were first on economic claims, took on a political color.

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Demonstration in Tehran on November 16, 2019.
Demonstration in Tehran on November 16, 2019. – / AFP

The decision by the Iranian government to abolish subsidies on the price of petrol triggered, on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 November, important events in hundreds of cities across the country. For the first time since the end of 2017, and three months ahead of the legislative elections scheduled for February 2020, Iranians took to the streets in the thousands to protest or block roads. Very quickly, their slogans, which first focused on economic demands, took on a political color that went so far as to call into question the very legitimacy of the entire system.

Sunday, November 17, anti-riot forces were deployed in number in some arteries of Iranian cities, where the demonstrators seem to have been fewer than the day before. According to reports relayed by the Iranian authorities, at least two people were killed, including a civilian in Sirjan (south), as well as a member of the security forces in Kermanshah (west). The balance sheet could be heavier. Videos, difficult to verify, show protesters shot and bleeding, lying on the ground, in other cities including Chiraz and Isfahan. Banks, government buildings, service stations, police stations, buses and cars were set on fire in different cities.

Internet access cut

The Iranian agency Fars, close to the guards of the revolution, the security backbone of the Islamic Republic, has published a detailed report on the riots, presented as coming from"An intelligence organization of the country". The text refers to the participation of 87,000 Iranians in demonstrations in 100 cities in the country and counted a thousand arrests. Monday morning, access to the Internet was still cut in large parts of the country, both on ADSL networks and on mobile networks. Schools in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan were closed Sunday, the first day of the week in Iran.

The decision to raise prices at the pump was announced without notice, late on the night of November 14th. It was taken by a council consisting of the heads of the three Iranian powers, the president, Hassan Rohani, the head of justice, Ebrahim Raisi, and that of Parliament, Ali Larijani. Mr. Rohani denied that the government would try to profit financially from the price increase, saying that this money would be returned to about 60 million needy Iranians in the form of cash grants. However, according to analysts, this measure aims to stem the budget deficit in Iran.


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