Iranian pensioners have been holding protest rallies across the country for the past three weeks to demand their basic rights.
This culminated in a rally on Sunday in over 20 cities, including Tehran, Tabriz, Arak, Yazd, Neyshabur, Khorram Abad, Sari, Shushtar, Karaj, Ahvaz, Haft Tappeh, Ardebil, Qazvin, Rasht, Dezful, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Ilam, and Bojnurd.
At this fifth nationwide protest by retirees in two months, they chanted:
- “Astronomical salaries [for government officials], misery for the public”
- “We are fed of with this injustice”
- “Our salaries are paid in rial, but we pay our expenses in dollars”
- “Enough with the promises, our tables are empty”
- “We will not back down until we get our rights”
- “Enough with the tyranny, our tables are empty”
- “The retirees fund has been hijacked by thieves”
With each passing protest, the number of demonstrators grows and the protests became more political, moving away from just their demands over increasing their pensions and onto protesting corruption, injustice, and tyranny.
Protests have grown over the past year, even as the authorities attempted to use the coronavirus to keep people from the streets and avoid another protest like that of November 2019. That shook the government to its core and was crushed by the repressive forces, who killed at least 1,500 people in the streets.
Many officials and media outlets have warned that the situation is similar now.
- Feb 18, Tehran City Council head Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani warned that the people’s tolerance was reaching a “threshold”
- Feb 20, the Setareyeh Sobh daily and the Vatan-e Emrooz daily warned of declining purchasing power and increased liquidity
- Feb 21, the Kar va Kargar daily warns that food prices have increased by between 6% and 9% over the past year
While on February 20, MP Moussavi Larigani admitted that $70 billion has disappeared in the stock market, a reference to the huge dip that followed a bubble growth, when many small investors were convinced by officials to invest in stocks run by government gangs
He said: “A paper company with 2 trillion rials worth of assets was sold on the stock market at a 32 trillion rial valuation. This is while this company doesn’t even have a physical office and its stock was nothing but a piece of paper.”
The Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has warned that these protests show how angry the society is and how likely it is that another major protest is coming.