The Iranian judiciary in Qom has sentenced a poor father of three children to 10 months of prison and 40 lashes for stealing three packs of cashew nuts.
The state-run news agency Fars wrote: “Following the publication of a judge’s sentence for the burglar of three packs of cashew nuts – a heavy sentence of 10 months’ imprisonment and 40 lashes – Fars’ reporter followed up the story from the relevant authorities and determined that the news was true and was not fake news.” (Fars, October 25, 2021)
This cruel sentence faced public anger and was widely reflected in social media. Many people have compared the tragic story of this poor man to the story of the poor man in Victor Hugo’s famous novel ‘Les Misérables.’
In that story, the poor man, Jean Valjean, had broken the door of a bakery and picked up some bread to feed his sister and her children, and the government arrested him for robbery and sentenced him to s lengthy prison term.
Now, in a situation where the Iranian officials and their associates loot billions of dollars from the people and the country’s wealth, Iran’s judiciary is sentencing a poor father in such a way that even the state media were not able to defend such a decision.
This is just an example of much of the dark poverty that the regime has imposed on the people. Even according to the regime’s unreliable statistics, “40 million people need urgent support.” (State-run website Bahar News, October 25, 2021)
According to one of these statistics, about eight people in Iran fall below the absolute poverty line every minute, which is what the Asr-e-Iran state-run website quoted the Ministry of Welfare as saying, “If the name of this is not a ‘catastrophe‘ and the authorities’ silence on it is not a ‘shame’, then what is it?”
This outlet described people who have gone below the absolute poverty line as those whose “incomes only suffice for the extremely low minimum” and said that “more than a third of Iranians, (live) not in poverty, but in absolute poverty. According to the shocking report published recently, the number of people below the absolute poverty line up to a year ago was 26 million, and in the last year, another 4 million have fallen below the absolute poverty line so that the number has reached 30 million.” (State-run website Asr-e-Iran, October 24, 2021)
Regarding the catastrophic situation of people’s lives and the spread of poverty among them, Sharq newspaper, on October 25, 2021, wrote, “Whenever it is not possible to provide the facilities for an honorable and growing life, and employment becomes a commodity that is hard to achieve, the provision of proper food and treatment becomes vulnerable to the aspirations of vulnerable households.”
One of the main problems is that most of the country’s economy is in the hands of the government, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and the supreme leader’s office, which has left nothing for the people.
The regime’s parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in this regard said: “With an 80% state-run economy and all these problems, we haven’t been able to perform well in explaining[these problems].” (State-run news agency Fars, October 25, 2021)
Earlier in 2014, Mohsen Safai Farahani, economy deputy minister in the government of Mohammad Khatami, said, “In the country today, about 120 institutions, various organizations, and foundations have a very broad economic activity while there is absolutely no proper control over their performance. Currently, nearly 50 percent of Iran’s GDP is at the disposal of these institutions.” (State-run Khabar Online, June 9, 2014)
The grip of these governmental institutions on the wealth of the poor and hungry people of Iran is while the smallest demands of the people are responded to with brutal repression by the regime.