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Water Protests in Iran

Zayanderud river in Iran has dried up, thanks to the government’s policies, negatively affecting the ecosystem and the lives of local people.

Due to this, farmers in Isfahan have held protests in recent days to demand their water rights; the latest of many. A farmer, identified as Seyed Morteza, told Mehr News that provincial officials have said water will be distributed in May, although nothing is known about the time, duration, or volume of the water supply.

He said: “We should prepare the land to cultivate. We must provide suitable seeds and fertilizer, but no one is responsible for us. We are left undecided and have no income with these economic conditions.”

Of course, farmers aren’t the only ones suffering because the flawed water distribution policy is harmful to the local ecosystem, with thousands of fish dying every time the Zayanderud river dries up, which affects not only the immediate food supply but also the animals higher on the food scale.

Mehr News wrote: “Even though MPs promised to follow up on farmers’ problems during a visit to the east of Isfahan last month, so far, no results have been obtained from this meeting for the livelihood and determination of farmers’ duties and demands.”

So where has the water gone? Well, because of the officials’ history of redistributing water for the private accommodation of officials’ affiliates and industrial projects of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), many believe that this might be the case. A farmer said that there is no need to drain the Beheshtabad tunnel or the Persian Gulf, but rather just to end the practice of illegal pumping.

A local official, Hesam Nazari said: “The Ben-Brojen Plan, which incorporated providing a huge water supply to large industrial factories and using the water for other areas and many decisions that resulted from mismanagement has made the people angry.”

As the crisis deepens, Mehr is warning of the danger posed to the entire system by these protests, saying that “the wound of the Zayanderud river has reopened following the drought” because farmers have not been able to cultivate their crops since October and the provincial officials have failed to address any of their concerns regarding livelihood issues and water rights.

Mehr wrote: “The silence, recklessness, and indifference of the government to save the challenging Zayanderud have frustrated the most oppressed people that are making their living from farming. Wrong policies are now exacerbating the social, economic, and environmental consequences.”

Iran Election Turnout Predicted At Just 25%

The Iranian government is terrified of what will happen in the June presidential elections, predicting a minuscule 25% turnout because of how many people have no faith in the ruling system whatsoever. Just one month from registration day, the regime also doesn’t have a serious candidate, with the military figures already in the running deemed not efficient enough to solve the growing crises in Iran.

Many officials (and 220 MPs who signed a letter to the effect) are hoping that Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, who served on the death committees during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, will run and unite many behind him. This would leave the Judiciary post open but likely only to someone made in his mould. Raisi even appears to have the backing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who previously urged Raisi to run in 2017 and who dissuaded the grandson of the clerical system’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini from running this year.

It seems that the only people allowed to run are those with ties to the repressive apparatus; although in fairness, that not that different to every other year because the candidates must swear loyalty to the Supreme Leader. But they are also worried that the options to vote for are not exactly going to encourage people to vote, especially given the still-out-of-control pandemic and the campaign by the Iranian resistance to boycott the elections and show how illegitimate the ruling theocracy is.

The public has taken that message on board, with many at protests chanting, “we have seen no justice and we will not vote”, to show their distaste for the mullahs, who cannot even begin to fix the people’s problems. Thus, the mullahs and state-run media are getting worried, warning that this could be terrible for the entire system as more and more sectors abandon it.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said: “The political and social atmosphere of the society and public opinion has not yet shown any particular sensitivity and reaction for the elections.”

While former MP Mahmoud Sadeghi described the “election atmosphere” as cold with the best hope being 25% participation.

The Iranian opposition said: “The regime clearly cannot cope with the status quo. The power struggle between various factions, a predicted low election turnout of 25 per cent, and no nomination of serious candidates are the regime’s major obstacles for the upcoming election. No matter what path the regime chooses, it will certainly be a turning point.”

In Iran, ‘the Rich Enjoy High Inflation’

Under the current rule in Iran, the rich enjoy inflation, a phrase used by government outlets about inflation in Iranian society.

On April 6, these media outlets admitted that all over the world, when inflation occurs, inflation first and foremost targets the rich with high incomes. But in Iran, this law is the opposite.

The Etemad daily wrote: “A person who has several companies and cars in Iran becomes richer every day with the increase of inflation, and the burden of inflation will again fall on the low-income deciles of the society.”

In Iran such rich people are none other than the elements of government factions and their affiliates.

Etemad added: “The average economic growth during these years was zero and our seven deciles of income suffered the most in terms of economic challenges, and it can be said that in these difficult conditions, only the upper deciles of the society became rich.”

The Khabar Online outlet in an article entitled, ‘Our rich enjoy high inflation’, quoting a government economist wrote: “Who in Iran, except the rich who have connections, rents and large collateral, can access large loans? Considering 40 percent inflation and 18 percent interest rate on loans, if a person receives a billion tomans loan, receiving the same loan will include 22 percent interest for this person.” (Khabar Online daily, April 6)

Explaining the cause of the situation, this expert added: “There is no wealth tax or income tax in Iran, and this also causes the growth of inflation to end in favor of the rich. A person who has several companies, houses and inflation in Iran becomes richer every day with the increase of inflation and the burden of inflation will again fall on the shoulders of the low-income deciles of the society.”

He then made a simple comparison and said: “In countries where the tax system works properly, the pressure is on the rich and they have to pay high tax rates, but in Iran there is no income and wealth tax and our rich enjoy high inflation, while the banking system and subsidies are available to the rich. Because they use cheap energy carriers for their homes and cars.” (Khabar Online daily, April 6)

Poor people are suffering under the heavy burden of inflation while state media report a staggering increase in inflation in recent days.

The Donya-e-Eghtesad daily on April 22, 2021 wrote: “With the publication of this statistic, the first picture of the increase in the consumer price index was recorded this year. In April 2021 monthly inflation, point-to-point inflation, and average inflation, have recorded three points.

“According to these statistics, the first month of spring has been associated with relatively high inflation and has experienced a significant increase in the consumer price index. The announced statistics also show an average inflation of 38.9 percent.”

And the State TV News Channel reported: “In all three inflation indices, the monthly, the point-to-point, and yearly rates increased in April 2021. This means that the beginning of 2021 was accompanied by a 50 percent increase in the cost of Iranian households compared to the previous year.”

If the ’50 percent increase in household spending over the previous year’ is taken into account, it means that more people are below the poverty line because incomes are not enough to cover the exorbitant costs of living.

According to the state media, this unbridled inflation has caused 9 deciles of the society to live a hard life under the burden of poverty and high prices, and specifically, while the poverty line is 10 million Tomans, according to the regime‘s own experts, a family of three or four has a maximum wage of 3 million. This is at a time when many people are unemployed and have no income at all.

In return, the rich take the looted money out of the country and deposit it in their accounts in foreign banks, and some of them invest in buying and selling houses and villas abroad.

Iran Joins UN Commission on the Status of Women

These days beside the news about the coronavirus, wars, and poverty another news surprised the entire civilized world.

‘The Islamic republic of Iran is becoming a member of the UN’s Commission on Women.’ This unbelievable act which has its roots in pollical issues has shocked many people around the world.

And this is while the United Nations in its report of March 19, 2021 on the ‘Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran’ about the situation of the women in Iran wrote:

“Notwithstanding these improvements, the Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned at the persistent discrimination against women and girls in public and private life, enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and within law and practice. Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution guarantee equal protection of men and women before the law and the State’s undertaking to secure women’s rights. However, the provision of these rights is subject to “the Islamic criteria”, which have been implemented by the authorities in a manner that violates and undermines women’s dignity and fundamental human rights, including the right to equality and non-discrimination, as established in the State’s international human rights obligations. The Government stated that the Islamic criteria were defined and could be updated according to societal needs.

“Concern is expressed that the legal age for a girl to marry in the Islamic Republic of Iran is 13 years, with even younger girls allowed to marry paternal and judicial consent… Failure to increase the marriage age undermines measures aimed at protecting women and girls from domestic violence and negatively affects education and employment prospects.

“The criminal justice system discriminates between men and women regarding payment of diya (blood money).  The Penal Code states that the amount of diya paid as compensation for a female victim is half that of a male (art. 550).

“…The State effectively devalues the worth of a woman’s life to half that of a man, and consequently makes women more vulnerable to crime.”

Nonetheless, there is much more, which is beyond the scope of this short text, but these excerpts are enough to imagine what is going on Iran and among the women living in that country.

Dissidents and Iran watchers are asking why is the United Nations discrediting itself and its commissions? Why are they ignoring their own report?

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of United Nations Watch, in this tweet on 21 April 2021 wrote: “No joke: UN elects Iranian regime to top women’s rights body. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief.”

This is an accurate description of this event. Because the basis of the growing fundamentalism today, at least in the Middle East, whose main feature is its anti-woman nature, is derived from the ideology of the founder of the Islamic Republic.

The amazing thing is that the main duty of this is commission is Improving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Imagine the model of ‘gender equality’ which is implemented in Iran becomes worldwide through the United Nations and this specialized commission. What a paradise the world would become”, an Iranian opposition website stated sarcastically. Here is what it would entail:

  • In line with gender equality, all schools in the world must segregate gender.
  • All prestigious universities in the world should work in two separate shifts for men and women.
  • All buses in Washington, Paris and London should have a gender separation wall and women should sit in the back.
  • All metros in the world must allocate most of its wagons to the men and only the last wagon should belong to the women.
  • In the direction of gender equality, the chador should be obligatory as a superior hijab for all women in the world. The police of all countries are obliged to set up ‘Enjoining good and forbidding wrong’ inspections, and, of course, arrest unveiled women while preserving their human dignity.
  • For the sake of gender equality, all fathers in the world should give their daughters half of their sons’ inheritance.
  • Let all the female politicians of the world respectfully step aside and give their place to the young male forces.
  • To preserve the dignity of women, all women’s commissions in the countries’ parliaments should be renamed to the Family Commission (Iran has no women commission, instead the regime is calling it the family commission), and men should be elected spokespersons for these commissions.
  • Allow girls to enter only in certain female university disciplines. Do not allow women to suffer ‘oppression’ by enrolling in men’s and unnecessary fields. All these universities can follow the example of Al-Zahra University of Tehran. Male professors should not be allowed in female student classes and vice versa.

Iran Disappointed With Nuclear Negotiations, Concerned About an Uprising by the Starving People

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei who was for a time silent about the negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the 2015 nuclear deal, broke his silence and said points about the negotiations that experts see as a sign of his despair and frustration with the negotiations.

But why, while he said that the suggestions in the negotiations of the world powers are humiliating and he cannot tolerate any erosive negotiations, is begging for this too?

The answer should be searched in the stagnation of his regime and his fear of an uprising by the starving population. It is worth to mention the speeches of the officials about this deadlock to see its real dimension.

As Khamenei said with frustration and despair: “It is not that the United States wants to negotiate until it accepts a right word. No, it wants to negotiate in order to impose a false word. The offers they make are often arrogant and humiliating offers that cannot even be looked at.” (State TV Channel One, April 14, 2021)

Then this frustration effected the other officials too. Mohamad Vaezi, Chief of Staff to the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani, about these humiliating negotiations said: “The new US administration had announced that the maximum pressure of the Trump administration had failed, and it did not accept that policy. In practice, maintaining the sanctions means that it is following the same path.” (State-run website Iran Press, April 14, 2021)

One of the elements of Khamenei factions explained the US’s goals as pulling the regime step by step to the “successive agreements to contain and limit Iran’s power altogether.”

This government affiliate added: “They want stronger agreement. That means that they want these stronger agreements, to take more concessions in non-nuclear areas.” (State TV Channel Two, April 14, 2021)

Abbas Araghchi, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the regime, depressed and angry about the Europeans positions said: “The Natanz incident is not something that can be easily overlooked. We expect the opposing countries in the JCPOA to condemn this incident, not only did they not do it right, but they also even added items to their list around ​​sanctions.” (State TV News Channel, April 15, 2021)

Rouhani completed this current of frustration hold his begging bowl toward the US government and said: “The Americans should live up to their commitments and lift the embargo.” (State TV News Channel, April 15, 2021)

Meanwhile, state media fear the hungry and furious population.

The Jahan-e-Sanat daily fearing a social explosion wrote: “In these deplorable economic conditions, and in order to be safe from the consequences of the periodic and, of course, fungal protests, as well as from the consequences of the country’s starving uprising, a heroic softness is desperately needed.” (State-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, April 15, 2021)

In the lexicon of the Iranian leadership this ‘heroic softness’ means taking another poison chalice and accepting the demands of the world powers.

Because the United States intends, to impose “the same previous maximalist demands with new deception”, and “how does a Europe that itself has imposed sanctions on eight individuals and institutions at the same time as the negotiations, want and can mediate the lifting of US sanctions.” (Kayhan, April 18, 2021)

Another concern of Khamenei’s faction is that even if the regime accepts those demands, it is still subject to sanctions, because the US government cannot lift all sanctions, especially those imposed by Congress. While the US the other parties of the JCPOA negotiations are not accepting the same conditions of the 2015 JCPOA. And are searching for a new one to put the regime’s missile arsenal and middle east activities in that agreement.

The state-run website Siasat Rooz on April 18 wrote: “The Biden administration says it is seeking a ‘longer and stronger’ deal than the 2015 nuclear deal, which would include fundamental changes in Iran’s support for militants in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and a limit on the number and range of Iranian missiles.

“Iran and the United States are in dispute over which sanctions should be lifted. Iran wants to return to the time before [Donald] Trump entered the White House. The United States is reluctant to lift all the Trump-era sanctions, in part because the Trump administration has deliberately linked many of the sanctions to the fight against terrorism, which are difficult to lift.”

Kayhan on April 19 wrote: “The goal of the United States and Europe is to turn the negotiations over the JCPOA into an erosive one. And in the first stage, ‘without lifting sanctions’, to return to the JCPOA, and in the next stage, it will impose its maximalist demands to make Iran’s nuclear restrictions permanent and to attach our missile capability and regional power to the JCPOA text.”

And Siasat-e-Rooz on April 19 wrote: “The Vienna talks are a waste of time, given that they are irrelevant because of the existence of the JCPOA, and given that the Supreme Leader of the Revolution has also warned the Vienna talks becomes erosional, now the Vienna meetings are now on that path.

“Accepting the continuation of negotiations by Iran, while knowing that the United States and Europe have no incentive to lift sanctions, is not the right strategy to revive the JCPOA. The lifting of economic sanctions on Iran has now become a dream that some still dream of.”

Critical Situation in Iran’s Province of Khuzestan

First of all, Iran’s impoverished province of Khuzestan needs to have a development program in accordance with its geographical, cultural and social potentials. In Khuzestan, the government should think about the education and the development of its people which it has forgoten after the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

The pains and disadvantages of Khuzestan are many and innumerable. Crying and showing only ‘sympathy’ with this injured province body is useless. If the problem of Khuzestan was to be solved with the government’s fake budget, industries, agriculture, industry, etc., promises, it would have become heaven by now, but this did not happen.

Khuzestan has been one of the firsts in many industries and resources in the country, but these firsts did not cause all-round growth and excellence in the province. Because along with material development, the human, social and cultural dimensions have always been ignored. And the people of this province are one of the most isolated and deprived in the country, just because of being an Arab Sunni minority.

And now, if the intention to carry out reforms and real growth and development is considered, it is very difficult to do so because many resources such as water, environment, soil, etc. have been destroyed and in many cases have reached a critical and irreversible level.

Today, the situation of education, even at its basic levels, is not in a good condition in many parts of the province. Over the years, some of the misconceptions of the people of this land have not been corrected and the positive cases have not been strengthened by the government. The spirit of development of its people is not supported and instead it has been weakened by the government, and an industry such as oil has only led to their deprivation because all its benefits are stolen by the government.

In the years after the war, because of the regime’s wrong policies, the favorable social aspect of Khuzestan, which indicated brotherhood, friendliness, kindness, and self-sacrifice, has changed and moved towards divergence. Many investors outside the province are reluctant to invest in the province’s economy. Many natives of the province have either migrated or are migrating, and in this migration, not only the issue of dust and water are the reasons, but it should be said that cultural repression and poverty in many areas of the social life in this province are the cause and motivation of these migrations.

Comparing the indicators of development in the province with other provinces of the country, it becomes clear that the province is lagging in many ways, and compensating for this backwardness requires planning, effort, and leaving matters in the hands of skilled people, which the government is not interested.

With political games and phony support, the government is trying to cure the pains of this province, without any success. Only attracting budget and credit will not work for the government, because at the same time, many of its officials and brokers are looting this province and thinking of gaining more benefits and enhancing their power from these credits.

And, as in previous years, they will hurt the province with their various lootings and benefiting, taking the money and capital of this province with themselves to the capital, and just paying attention to their own welfare and livelihood, and deriding the people of this province and taking only political and social gestures that they are caring about the interests of these poor and weak people.

If the government of Iran would just care about the development of Khuzestan’s people, this province would see progress, otherwise, as in previous years, the people are forced to leave this province. And now this is not happening and most of its people are vagrant, around the metropoles of the country.

Khuzestan today has problems even in small and primitive matters such as waste collection even in its good neighborhoods of the city. It has problems in matters such as maintaining public transportation such as buses and its stations, and you rarely see well working stations in the provincial capital which is Ahvaz. And the final comment is that this province is still at the start of its development after 40 years of clerical rule.

Why Are Iran’s Looted Creditors Protesting Again?

Protests and gatherings of looted creditors have become a common occurrence in the Iranian economy. From time to time, a group of creditors that have lost their money, or better said have been looted by government officials and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards officers which have captured many parts of the country’s economy in various economic spheres, gather to protest, and this time it is the turn of the stock market.

Iran’s stock market is extremely dependent on the global economy.  According to government officials, it has faced a sudden downward trend due to international sanctions. In reality, the government itself has manipulated the statistics and numbers to pull the people to the stock market for investments and finally looting them.

On Wednesday April 21, the Tehran Stock Exchange fell 4,000 units in the first minutes of the week, and this decline continued to 12,527 units, and the total stock index reached 1,207,062, which is not far away from the 1.2 million units from the critical channel limit.

State media reported, “the Tehran Stock Exchange is not happy these days, and its officials are refusing to comment on the market. (State-run website Ghatreh-e-Aval, April 21)

And nothing can control the downward trend of capital market indicators anymore. Following the continuation of this negative trend, a group of small shareholders gathered in front of the Stock Exchange and Securities Organization. These demonstrators have been looted. Because by applying wrong policies such as the distribution of Edalat shares and the government’s ETF, has been unknowingly invited to the stock exchange, and by this way the government brokers have empty their pockets.

Protest rallies have become the mainstay of Iran’s ailing economy. One day, the creditor losers of Samen Al-Hojjaj gather in front of the Central Bank; the next day, the investment losers of the car importing companies gather in front of the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade. One day, angry poultry farmers block the Taleghani Street, because of the wrong policies of regulating the agricultural jihad market; the next day, people take to the streets worried about rising gasoline prices.

After the government asked people to invest their capital in the stock market instead of just spending it on the coin and gold market, many came to this market and thereby lost their capital.

Some shareholders gathered in front of the Stock Exchange and Securities Organization. As reported by ILNA, this group of protesters were real and small shareholders who protested the government’s policies during the index decline and the non-fulfillment of promises of support.

In an interview with the state-run daily Shargh, Mehdi Souri, a stock market expert, said: “People were invited from the highest government officials to the stock exchange. It is not customary to invite someone and empty their pockets instead of entertaining them.”

Then, to the question of who invited people to the stock exchange, he answered: “The government and parliament invited them. Everyone who has been a decision-maker in our officials has asked these people to put all their capital in the stock market. Some people were invited, and some people were pushed into the market with non-standard tools such as government ETFs or the Edalat stocks, without knowing where they are stepping into. Even the banking network has directed them to this direction.”

About the situation of Iran’s stock market, he added: “The stock market we are witnessing now in Iran is not a standard financial market, because the first condition of a standard financial market is market liquidity. This means that you can take your money out of that market whenever you want.

“This is the biggest advantage of a standard stock market, but when in our capital market people’s money stays in line for a month and people cannot withdraw their capital, so, it is not a standard market that we can talk about it on an analytical basis.”

About misuse and corruption by officials, he added: “The unprofessional intervention of the officials and the use of incorrect tools have made this market non-standard. From the very beginning, when the Edalat stocks were created and there was talk of government ETFs, we strongly warned that these tools were substandard and could mislead the stock market.”

Then he asked these officials which of course is a hopeless thing in Iran: “We expect the authorities to allow the stock market to follow its standard path. Do not push anyone, do not build a barrier, and do not turn the main road, for which all its tools have been worked in practice in the world for years, into a side detour.”

About the Edalat shares, he said: “The person who distributed the Edalat shares among the people did not estimate how these people would sell this volume of shares. In the world, stocks belong to someone who has extra money. While the Edalat share was given to the weak who have no extra money and need money liquidity.

“I am against social subsidies and charity. If such a thing is to be given, it is possible only through cash. Because with these administrative and economic conditions in the country, any action is prone to corruption and creates problems. The crises that have arisen in the country are due to the fact that we have not made the things right from its roots.”

How Can Workers in Iran Live With a Monthly Salary of $160?

On Friday, April 16, and while less than a month has passed since Nowruz, the new year in the Persian calendar on March 20, the semi-official website Bartarinha pointed to workers’ dire conditions in Iran. “Can someone live with a salary of $160 per month?” the website titled.

According to the semi-official ILNA news agency, until March 2021, the inflation chart had been ascending. The economy’s shock-therapy, which began from March 2018 and continued until March 2021 with a high acceleration, has severely increased basic expenditures.

In such circumstances, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has announced that it proposes to achieve a 22-percent inflation rate from March 2021 to March 2022. Back in June 2020, the CBI had set a 22-percent inflation rate with positive and negative amplitude of percentage points for the next Persian year.

“However, the question is, can the CBI obtain an inflation rate of 20 or 24 percent in the current year?” ILNA asked, replying, “Data shows, ‘no, it cannot.’ In response to such question, we should easily say, ‘The coming events have cast their shadows in advance.’”

Official figures provided by the Statistics Center show a growing rate in prices from February 20 to March 20. Also, unofficial and field data obtained by media and local reports show that the inflation rate was continued since March 20 until now.

Inflation Statistics in Iran (February 21 – March 21)

“In March 2021, the point-to-point inflation rate has reached 1.8 percent; In other words, the country’s families have spent on average 48.7 percent more than in March 2020 to buy a ‘set of identical goods and services,’” the Statistic Center reported on March 21.

The report also says, “The monthly inflation rate for urban families is 1.8 percent… and it is 1.6 percent for rural families.” This means that the prices have grown this amount in comparison to the last month. On the other hand, the Statistics Center announces that in the major section of “Foods, Drinks, and Tobacco,” people have experienced the most increase in prices of red meat, chicken, sugarcane, sugar, sweets, edible oils, and vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers, in comparison to the previous month.

“The amplitude of changes in the annual inflation rate in March 2021 for different deciles was 34.6 percent for the first decile—the richest class of society—and 43.5 percent for the tenth decile—the poorest people,” the report added.

Inflation Statistics in Iran from March 21

Since March 21, unofficial indicators show a growing rate in prices. For instance, on April 10, the CEO of Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Operation Company Farnoush Nobakht acknowledged a 25-percent increase in Metro ticket prices in Tehran. “These prices would take effect from April 21,” he said.

This is while taxi fares had already increased by 25 to 35 percent in different cities according to relevant city councils’ approvals. For example, taxi fares were increased by more than 35 percent in Mashhad, Iran’s second major city and the capital of the northeastern province of Razavi Khorasan.

“Since Nowruz, an average of a 35.2-percent increase in taxi fares has been applied. Of course, these amount will depend on the type of cars,” Mehr News Agency quoted the chief of Mashhad Municipality Taxi Organization Ahmad Mohebbi as saying on April 13.

Therefore, the expenditures in transferring sector have on average increased by 30 percent. In the foodstuff sector, citizens witnessed a minimum increase of 25 percent in the price of essential goods. For instance, on April 1, the official IRNA news agency reported, “The Base for Organizing the Chicken Price raised the official price of chicken from 204,000 rials [$0.81] per kilo to 249,000 rials [$1.00], meaning a 25-percent increase for the first month in the Persian calendar.”

In such circumstances, the government has increased workers’ minimum salaries by 39 percent, which reaches 40 million rials [$160] per month, and 42 million rials [$168] when calculating the child cost allowance. However, regarding the 100- to 130-million-rial [$400-520] poverty line for a family of four, workers can only cover a quarter of their monthly expenditure in the best-case scenario. Furthermore, they are not optimistic to save this status quo given the accelerating rate of inflation, let alone improving their living conditions.

Workers in Iran Forecast a Tougher Year

To have a better view about working families’ livelihood in Iran, it is useful to take a look at what has been reflected in the state media. However, this is not the whole story, and Iranian media try to portray an acceptable image of the present conditions, deterring the spark of public disappointment.

“in the best-case scenario, it is supposed that 10 million rials [$40] be added to workers’ salaries. We cannot be satisfied with this $40. In the past two weeks after Nowruz holidays, the price of all items of the product basket has been raised. Every time officials add for instance 20 percent to salaries, inflation turns out at 40 percent, which means workers are still losing out by 20 percent. Still, workers could never be satisfied with their salaries after any increase,” said labor activist Abdollah Vatankhah to ILNA.

Meanwhile, given the massive population of unemployed people in Iran, the increase in salaries would not remove any problem. Because there are always a massive number of unemployed people who are ready to gain a job even with a low salary. In such circumstance, workers have to acquiesce to employers’ exploiting rulings or lose their careers.

On the other hand, government officials can never feel workers’ hardships and difficulties, because they receive stellar salaries which increase several times the inflation rate. Therefore, all economic components have been adjusted to frustrate workers from a better future.

In reality, a manager with an official monthly salary of $1,000 to $1,400 does not care about a 25-percent increase in taxi fares or chicken prices. Instead, workers must constantly calculate how they can overcome inflation rate with meager salaries. Of course, if they won to receive their salaries.

“Even managers of the Social Security Organization, which belongs to workers and its managers should receive salaries like workers’ salaries, receive multi-million and stellar salaries. They benefit from our work, but their salaries are multiple times larger than ours,” said Vatankhah.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ILNA, Khosro Zargarian, a social activist from Markazi province, underscored workers’ main dilemma. “In fact, inflation is the most important issue for workers. Workers are struggling with inflation every day and night. They are always concerned about the increase in prices. In the past three years, everything was against workers,” he said.

“If we reviewed prices from March 2018, the price of all goods has increased by at least five to ten times. I feel high prices very strongly because my product basket is dwindling every day. With such salaries, a worker with a family of three or four needs a miracle to live,” Zargarian added.

Furthermore, the increase in official prices would severely impact other prices. “When officials themselves permit a 25- to 30-percent increase in prices, what can we expect from grocers or hairstylists?” he explained.

In such circumstance and while the government issues permissions for increasing essential goods’ prices, raising workers’ salaries would not ease any dilemma. In practice, a giant monster named inflation has ambushed millions of workers, and they would lose in a repeated game with such figures.

Therefore, workers are the losers, and employers, who benefit from their strong ties with high-ranking officials, win again. Speaking in a debate, Mirhossein Mousavi’s economic advisor during the 2009 Presidential election Hossein Raghfar recently pointed to the high rate of emigration and suicide in society, describing it as a kind of protest.

“It is impossible that such society would survive in the long run, and it would definitely collapse whether we admit it or not. Such an emigration wave is unprecedented. The youths prefer to emigrate anywhere, refusing to stay in their homeland. So why? Why do youths believe that they can obtain a good future anywhere except their own homeland? Because these policies have destroyed the entire society,” he said on February 20, 2019.

“I think sooner or later, people will voice their protests in different manners. Today, we witness various kinds of insurgents. Suicide is a kind of insurgent. Addiction is a kind of insurgent, which has unfortunately expanded in our country. And emigration is a kind of insurgent. However, these are not sole kinds of insurgent, and an insurgent may appear by taking the people to the tarmac,” Raghfar said.

“High-ranking officials should decide whether they prefer this state to remain or not. It seems that many of officials, who use bulletproof cars and bodyguards, do not feel people’s difficulties,” he added.

The Unknown Fate of Iran’s Retirees

For weeks, the social security retirees of Iran have been protesting their bad living condition and lack of money and insurance. Social security retirees complain about the government’s delay in raising their pensions, but the question that many of them ask is, in principle, why should the increase in the pension of social security retirees depend on the government?

A retiree under the sponsorships of the Social Security Organization has generally paid 30 years of insurance premiums to this organization, and in principle, these premiums should be stored in the pension fund of this organization, and the pensions and pension increases of retirees that must be paid are also from the funds and investments accumulated in this fund.

A report prepared by the state-run daily Eghtesad Online on the status of the Social Security Organization’s pension fund shows that 70 percent of the resources of the Social Security Pension Fund are through premiums that it receives from individuals, and only 12 percent of its resources are provided from the income of investments. In other words, the fund is heavily dependent on the premiums it currently receives from insured workers, and the previous capitals and investments have not yielded much for the fund.

The finger of blame is pointing at the government
There are various analyses on the cause of this situation, but they all have one thing in common: By withdrawing the resources of the Social Security Fund, the government had the largest share in weakening the fund and did not pay its debts to the fund. On the other hand, part of the government’s debts to the Social Security Fund have been paid with the liquidation of loss-making state-owned companies, which has practically not benefited the fund.

Interestingly, the Social Security Fund, despite its unfavorable situation, still receives the least assistance from government sources, and according to the Eghtesad Online’s report, the State Pension Fund and the Steel Fund are in a much worse situation than Social Security Fund and provide most of their resources from the government’s assistance.

One of the government’s officials Mohammad Assadi from the General Department of Public Relations of the Social Security Organization said about the government’s delay and inaction providing the funds for the retirees:

“Last year’s resolution of the Islamic Parliament to transfer 32 trillion tomans of shares of state-owned companies to social security should be implemented so that this organization can provide desirable and needed services to the covered society with the support of reliable financial resources in addition to implementation.” (Jahani press, April 19, 2021)

He added: “This organization spends more than 15 trillion tomans a month this year, and in order to fulfill its obligations, in addition to receiving insurance premiums on time, which is the most important source of social security funding, it must also receive claims from the government through a precise and effective mechanism.” (Jahani press, April 19, 2021)

From these sentences it can be understood that the government is not just supporting the retirees but is stealing their money. And according to the cognition that we have from this regime, this capital is used for the regime’s malign activities like its nuclear and missile program and its meddling in the Middle East.

Although nationwide rallies have been held regularly and weekly for months by the retirees, the demands of retirees have not yet been met. The protesting retirees, in addition to increasing the level of pension to the level of the poverty line, which is now 10 million tomans, demand the repeal of Article 69 of Social Security, ‌ increase in their annual pensions and free medical treatment.

At their protests, they also chanted: “Officials, Give us back our rights”, “Expensiveness, inflation, the scourge of people’s lives.”

There are also slogans that the government fears the most like, “We will not vote anymore, because we heard so many lies.”

In recent months, social security retirees have been among those who have held regular weekly rallies to protest the lack of adequate pay. With the poverty line reaching nearly 10 million tomans, officials, including members of parliament, acknowledge the huge gap between workers and retirees’ incomes with the living expenses.

Trafficking In Iran; A Major Concern

The trafficking of women in Iran is a real problem, with most of the victims smuggled out of the country from the provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchestan, and Khuzestan.

Lawyer Hossein Komeili said: “In Sistan and Baluchestan, where forced marriages are common, women are given to men in Afghanistan and Pakistan. [It’s a form of] organized trafficking [where] corruption in the bureaucracy [and cooperation between] “smugglers and the police” [make the issue worse].”

Of course, the government hides the relevant statistics, so it’s impossible to know for sure how many victims there are, but the state-run ROKNA News Agency says that the women are moved under the pretext of finding employment, smuggled into countries, and forced to become sex workers because their identification documents are stolen before they even leave Iran.

Despite its opacity, the government is still considered tier 3 by the US State Department for failing to make the minimum effort to combat human trafficking and the US said that the domestic Iran trafficking networks appear to enjoy anonymity.

One Iranian strategist, Hassan Abbasi, publically exposed the trafficking of women to other Middle Eastern countries as far back as 2008, condemning the President, the Information Minister, the Expediency Discernment Council, the Revolutionary Guards, the Bassij, the Judiciary Chief, the commander of the State Security Force, and Tehran’s mayor for failing to address the issue.

But, of course, one of the main reasons for the increased rate of trafficking is poverty because people are desperate to escape the hardships in Iran, tricked with thoughts of a better life. This is worse in more deprived areas.

Komeili said: “The University of Tehran has a law clinic in the Oudlajan area of Tehran. A woman came to the clinic and said, ‘My daughter has been missing for 2 weeks! Her friends said she went abroad.’ We asked, ‘What did you do in these 2 weeks?’ I did nothing. I thought she was going abroad to earn money and send it to us,” the mother replied. Therefore, the principal reason for human trafficking is poverty, and victims fall into traffickers’ traps thinking they are finding jobs. Laws must be changed, and the victim must not be seen as a criminal.”

While sex trafficking is a major part of this criminal industry, we shouldn’t forget about the nasty blood and organ trafficking business, whereby victims (including children) are held for some time abroad before they are killed for their blood and organs.