A grassroots boycott campaign has sprung up in recent days to protests against rising food prices and the government’s mishandling of Iranian economy.
In a spontaneous move, a group of Iranian citizens have launched a campaign to boycott milk and bread for three days, starting from Saturday. The strike is aimed at protesting against high costs, which have soared since the subsidy cuts of 2010 as well as international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, we will not buy bread and milk to protest high prices and inflation,” the campaign said on Thursday. “Let us be united, for only three days, in order to support our low-income and [financially] vulnerable countrymen. Fellow countryman, please spread the word!”
Those behind the initiative say that even if it doesn’t trigger fundamental change in the country, the “government and businessmen will realise that the people are together and share a sense of solidarity.”
The campaign is using social networking sites such as Facebook and Balatarin to recruit citizens to their cause.
Reports from Tehran suggest that the campaign is also seeking to reach out to the masses through word of mouth, mobile phone calls and text messaging.
The large scale text messaging in recent days prompted Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency to run a critical report about the campaign and its use of SMS in promoting the collective strike.
According to a recent report by Iran’s official news agency, the price of traditional breads have risen by as much as 33 percent in the capital, Tehran.
The price rises come as Iran braces itself for the second phase of the subsidy reform plan which experts believe will make the lives of ordinary Iranians even more difficult.
Analysts say government policies coupled with Western-imposed sanctions have had a negative impact on the price of goods and food staples in the country.
Iran’s semi-official Ilna news agency recently reported that trade unions and associations involved in the production and distribution of goods had been instructed by authorities not to give interviews to the media about the worsening economic situation.
Commenting on the recent campaign to boycott milk and bread, Nader Hashemi, assistant Professor at the University of Denver, told The Green Voice of Freedom that the move was “wonderful news, i.e. a spontaneous and grassroots boycott directed at the Iranian regime’s economic policies and incompetence.” “However,” he added, “I wonder how effective it will be given that milk and bread are staple foods that millions of Iranians rely on for basic nutrition. What next, the boycott of water?”
Hashemi continued: “The most significant development here is that the Iranian people are taking their destiny into their own hands and they are fighting back … One of the key challenges for any pro-democracy movement is to overcome political apathy and defeatism among the population.”