Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, March 7, 2021—Iranian pensioners held protest rallies in several cities on Sunday to reiterate their demands from the regime. This is the seventh organized rally of the pensioners in 2021 and fifth consecutive Sunday that they are gathering despite the heavy atmosphere of repression and presence of security forces. In the past years, the pensioners have been regularly protesting low wages and the government’s refusal to adjust their pensions based on the devaluation of the rial and the rising inflation rate.
On March 7, retirees held their protests in Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shushtar, Shush, Haft Tappeh, Khorram Abad, Qazvin, Kermanshah, Ahvaz, Shahrud, Rasht, Mashhad, Sari, Ardebil, Arak, Urmia, Behshahr, Sanandaj, Shiraz, and Karaj.
In their rallies, the pensioners were chanting, “The result of the government’s work is plundering the people’s wealth,” “Housing and livelihoods are our inalienable rights.”
In Tehran, the rally started in front of the offices of the Social Security Organization. The regime’s security forces attacked the rally, beating several protesters and arresting others. The security forces confiscated the banners and mobile phones of the protesters to prevent videos of the rally to be broadcast online.
In Tabriz, a large rally was held in front of the offices of the Social Security Organization.
In Shushtar, the protesters also gathered in front of the local office of the Social Security Organization and were chanting, “Our country sits on treasures, but we are living in suffering” and “Our salaries are paid in rials, our expenses are in dollars.”
In Karaj, the protesters were chanting, “Astronomical salaries [for government officials], misery for the public.” The protesters held a banner that read, “With a base monthly salary of 28 million rials, and while the poverty line sits at 10 million rials, pensioners can’t pay for their expenses.”
In Isfahan, the protesters were chanting, “The result of the government’s work is the plundering of the people’s money.”
The decline in Iran’s economy, spurred by government corruption and destructive policies, has plunged the lives of many pensioners and retired government workers into utter poverty. While the price of the national currency, the rial, has lost more than 80 percent of its value in the past few years, pensions have not changed much, and the government has not adjusted salaries based on the change of currency prices and inflation rates. Under the current rates, most pensioners live under the poverty line.
This is against the government’s own policies to adjust pensions based on changes in inflation rates. According to a 2020 census, there are 18 million pensioners in Iran. These are part of Iran’s impoverished masses, who account for 96 percent of the population and live under the poverty line. According to the regime’s own statistics, more than 75 percent of pensioners are struggling to procure their needs.
Pensioners receive on average 25 million rials per month while the poverty line in some parts of Iran has reached 100 million rials in the past year.
The protesters are demanding the implementation of article 96 of the welfare law, which states that pensions must be adjusted to allow pensioners to procure their needs. The protesters are also demanding free health care for pensioners and the prioritization of the pensioners’ demands in Majlis sessions.
Protest rally by pensioners in Khorram Abad
Pensioners have been continuously holding protest rallies, but the government has yet to respond to their demands.
This is the sixth nationwide organized protest of the pensioners in less than two months. At the same time, members of other impoverished communities across Iran have been holding similar rallies in different cities. And the protests happen against the backdrop of ongoing protests in Sistan and Baluchestan and heavy security measures in different parts of Iran.
While the regime has a history of cracking down on organized protests with severe brutality, there was no shortage of participants in Sunday’s rallies. This shows that the people are becoming increasingly bold in face of the regime’s repressive apparatus, and at the same time, the regime is becoming less and less efficient in its capacity to quell protests. This is a true manifestation of a new balance between the regime and the people.