Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, January 11, 2021—On Sunday, pensioners and welfare receivers held a protest rally in front of the Majlis (parliament) in Tehran and in the cities of Rasht, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Arak, Khoram Abad, Shiraz, Qazvin, Tabriz, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Hamedan, Karaj, Esfarayen, Borujerd, Shush, and Ilam. The pensioners, whose demands have been ignored by regime authorities for months, were chanting:
- We will not rest until we get our rights
- Our rights will be restored in the streets
- Retirees, workers, we will stand till the end
- High prices, inflation, are destroying the people’s lives
At the same time, public school janitors and workers held a rally in front of the Majlis, protesting their unpaid wages. Meanwhile, a group of investors held a separate rally in Tehran, protesting the conditions of the crashing conditions stock market, which has been caused by the regime’s corrupt policies and has resulted in much loss to many people. Elsewhere, in Arak, the workers of Hepco, the once-flourishing construction equipment manufacturer, held protest rallies because their wages haven’t been paid for months. Municipality workers in Yazd and Tabriz, and truck drivers in Qasr-e Qand (Sistan and Baluchestan province) also held protest rallies.
The impoverished segments have been regularly holding protest rallies since mid-December. Pensioners have held three rounds of protests because of their unmet demands and unpaid wages. Their first protest rally, held on January 3 in 22 cities, was marked with the slogan, “Enough with the tyranny. Our tables are empty!”
Again, on January 6, the pensioners held another protest rally along with workers in Shadegan, Khuzestan province, and chanted “Retirees and workers are hungry!”
The regime’s own media and officials are warning about the poor living conditions of workers. On November 25, MP Sara Fallahi warned about an “unbridled market” that has driven the poverty line above 100 million rials.
On January 10, Ali Asghar Anabestani warned that “the people’s conditions are so poor” that from a livelihood standpoint, the people “have returned to the conditions of 70 years ago” and are forced to use animal fat instead of oil because of high prices.
On January 7, economist Hossein Raghfar warned: “If we look at the people’s purchasing power, it is at its lowest level in the past 40 years, and they are fed up.”
The Work and Worker daily acknowledged on January 6 that more than 65 percent of the country’s population is in need of welfare. The daily warned that the welfare organization is on the verge of bankruptcy and this will make life for pensioners even harder in the coming year.
Meanwhile, the regime’s equalization plans are only resulting in the lower deciles of the society “becoming forgotten,” warned the head of the Labor Council on January 5. And even if the plan is carried out, it will only trickle 50 million rials to the pockets of pensioners, which is half of the poverty line.
The regime knows very well that while these protests are primarily against economic grievances, they stem from 41 years of tyranny and corruption at the highest levels of power in Iran. The regime’s officials know that previous nationwide protests started with slogans against high prices but ended up transforming into anti-regime uprisings that called for the overthrow of the mullahs’ rule. This is what we saw in the 2017 and 2019 nationwide protests.
Today, the protests movements in Iran are a warning to the regime of what is to come. Despite the regime’s wave of oppressive measures and the tragic wave of coronavirus infections, the people are coming out to the streets to reclaim their rights. Iranian officials know that these are people who have already lost everything due to the regime’s policies and they have nothing else to lose. The regime is terrified of the consequences of protest movements flaring and becoming more widespread.
But it can’t do anything to stop it.