Protests Continue For Second Day In Iran As Blackouts Lead To Chaos
As widespread power cuts continued across Iran on Monday, more protests took place by angry citizens in more cities and towns, who demanded accountability from government officials.
People came out into the streets in Shahr-e-Rey near Tehran, in several cities in the north of the country and in Fars province in the south, to demand an end to the sudden, unannounced power cuts in mid-summer heat when people need their fridges and air conditioners.
The blackouts plunge the country into chaos, with businesses shutting down unable to use their electronic payment systems, hospital emergency rooms losing vital machines and patients dying, traffic lights going dark creating chaos on jam-packed roads and work coming to a standstill.
Internet and mobile telephone networks also stop functioning when a long power disruption depletes back-up batteries, which need hours to re-charge. In the meantime, the next power cut happens, and the communication system stops.
Meanwhile, top leaders of the Islamic Republic remained out of sight and made no comments about what the people see as years of government ineptitude, mismanagement and waste of resources on adventures such as the controversial nuclear program and regional interventions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The protests began Sunday night when a sudden blackout hit the capital Tehran following extended power cuts the day before. There were no street protests in the capital but people in some parts of the city began chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei” from their windows. The same happened again in Tehran and Shiraz, the center of Fars Province.
Widespread, sudden blackouts started Saturday night in Tehran and other cities, which were not part of scheduled power cuts Iran has been experiencing in recent months due to insufficient electricity generation and rising demand. Officials on Sunday warned that power cuts will continue and possibly get worse if summer temperatures go higher.
With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing unabated and economic hardship due to three years of US sanctions leading to high inflation causing discontent, the Islamic Republic faces the potential danger of renewed anti-regime protests.
An official said Sunday that the government has failed to increase power generation to keep up with demand. He explained that every year Iran needs to add 5,000 megawatts to its capacity, while in recent years only 2,000 has been added annually.
Electricity is heavily subsidized in Iran, which does not encourage energy saving. Government offices are said to be one of the biggest sources of waste and in recent days authorities turned off power at several large office complexes.
But the cheap electricity does little to dampen popular anger when in hot summer days they lose power for hours. Some people even remind others that during the 1979 revolution which toppled the monarchy, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini was promising free electricity and water