Iranians take to the streets to protest regime and rising food prices

We spoke to a young woman who has taken to the streets to protest the rising prices in Iran, despite harsh repression by police forces.
We spoke to a young woman who has taken to the streets to protest the rising prices in Iran, despite harsh repression by police forces. © Observers

Since early May, Iranians have been taking the streets to protest rising prices of basic goods, causing prices to balloon by up to 300%. The economic protests quickly turned political, with people calling for the fall of the regime as security forces harshly repressed dissent. We spoke to a young Iranian protester who said that "enough is enough".

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The movement has been the largest since 2019, when protests over the price of petrol led to widespread unrest. At least 1,500 people were killed by security forces.

'The people will continue this to the end'

Alam (not her real name) went out to protest in her town in Khuzestan province.

There were lots of anti-Khamenei slogans simply because he’s the one responsible for our situation. His politics over the past 30 years have brought us here. 

And the people will continue this to the end. They tried to disperse us. They shot tear gas, lots of them shot in the air and toward people. I heard some people in the city got injured. We were there past midnight. There are lots of police, and Basij forces [the paramilitary branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps] in the streets.

Like in 2019, the current wave of protests began over economic concerns. In early May, conservative President Ebrahim Raisi announced changes to a system of subsidies as well as increases in the prices of many basic products, including cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk, in order to confront Iran’s economic difficulties in the face of international sanctions.

The sharp rise in prices left many Iranians – already grappling with economic difficulties – desperate.

All of my brothers and cousins and myself are university graduates and all of us are jobless. We have to live with our parents, who cannot make it through the month. And It’s not just us, I think half of the young people in our town live in the same situation. They live with their parents, with seasonal work here and there.

For at least three months, we haven’t been able to buy any meat because it’s too expensive. And now, with the skyrocketing prices of bread, pasta, oil and eggs, what else can we eat? If you can find it, bread is twice as expensive as before. These are – or were – our staple food ingredients. 

A video shows people fighting over cooking oil in a shop in Karaj, west of Tehran on May 12.
Enough is enough. I hope people from other cities join us, to make a general revolt like in 2019, but we have to continue to the end this time. I know they would kill lots of us, but it’s a quick death. I prefer that to the slow, painful torture that we are enduring right now.