Iran Focus: Tehran, Apr. 08 – At least 1,500 anti-government protests, strikes, and clashes took place in Iran during the year that ended on March 20. More than 450 strikes, demonstrations, and gatherings by white- and blue-collar workers, were reported in state-run and opposition media. Iran Focus

Tehran, Apr. 08 – At least 1,500 anti-government protests, strikes, and clashes took place in Iran during the year that ended on March 20.

More than 450 strikes, demonstrations, and gatherings by white- and blue-collar workers, were reported in state-run and opposition media. Some strikes, such as the one by coal miners in Sangroud, lasted for more than 50 days.

Non-payment of salaries, insufficient pay, and the privatisation of many sectors of work were the main reasons reported for the majority of the strikes. It was widely reported that a great number of civil servants did not receive during the New Year period and were forced to start the year without basic household goods.

The next major sector of society to have been involved in ant-government protests were student groups. Over 330 strikes, protests and political gatherings by students were reported over the past year. Their protests were coupled by teachers’ strikes, which numbered 110 during the same time.

A further 550 demonstrations and social actions took place throughout Iranian towns and cities, making the past year one of the most volatile in Iran.

Social unrest on the rise

Recent demonstrations include those during Iran’s World Cup qualifier match with Japan, International Women’s Day, and the national 'fire' festival of Chahar-shanbeh Souri.

At least seven people were killed and dozens left injured outside the Azadi stadium in Tehran after anti-government protests erupted at the end of the Iran–Japan World Cup qualifier football match on March 25.

Eye-witnesses reported that the regime used special anti-riot units and hundreds of State Security Forces (SSF) to launch an offensive on the 100,000-strong crowd, after spectators started chanting anti-government slogans.

Shortly after the start of the game, young people disfigured large portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to witnesses.

Handmade firecrackers were reportedly hurdled at the SSF forces stationed around the stadium. State television stopped broadcasting images from the crowd once smoke from the firecrackers was apparent.

Dozens of buses in Tehran were damaged during the ensuing clashes which lasted for several hours.

On the event of International Women's Day on March 9, at least 1,000 women staged a demonstration at central Tehran’s Laleh Park. Clashes erupted between the protesters and State Security Forces (SSF) as local residents reported tight security in the vicinity of the park since daybreak.

"We are only marching quietly. You are afraid of women. You will see what will happen when women finally stand up", one woman shouted, as agents rushed to silence her.

Leaflets calling for "regime change" were distributed throughout the crowd. Some carried photos of Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, witnesses reported.

Elsewhere, the ending ceremony of the sixth national student newspaper festival turned into a demonstration in early March as over 1,000 students from universities across the city of Mashad (northeast Iran) heckled the regime's Minister of Health, forcing him to flee the event.

Students took the podium and jeered the government minister, shouting slogans and demanding the release of political prisoners and an end to the crackdown on students in Iran's universities.

On march 15 Tehran was left in a standstill as the population poured into the streets to mark the national 'fire' festival of Chahar-shanbeh Souri despite intense pressures by the Iranian regime to prevent a possible uprising.

Eye-witnesses reported that full-size puppets of high-ranking officials, such as Khamenei and the regime's president Mohammad Khatami, were set on fire by youths at numerous locations throughout the Iranian capital. Trucks belonging to Iran's security forces were also set ablaze.

"Guns, tanks, the Bassij (Para-military security forces) no longer have an effect", large crowds shouted in central Tehran, as they took part in the traditional celebrations where Iranians jump over fires ablaze on the streets.

Despite a general ban on the festival by the regime and repeated demands by the Iranian authorities that people avoid leaving their houses on the day, the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) issued a call for the nation to take part in the event and call for the overthrow of the clerical regime.

"Khamenei resign! Get off your throne", youths shouted, as the government unleashed its Revolutionary Guards to crack down on the demonstrators. Young people set off smoke bombs and sonic booms.

Residents reported that pictures of Maryam Rajavi and Massoud Rajavi, leaders of the Iranian opposition, were being distributed throughout Tehran and other major cities, including Mashad, Tabriz, Isfahan, Rasht, Lahijan, Hamedan, Arak, Sanandaj, Babol, Boukan, Saqqez, Mahabad, and Baneh, as SSF agents attempted to contain the demonstrators.

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