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Iran: Widespread protests by pensioners in several cities

Protest rallies by pensioners in several Iranian cities
Protest rallies by pensioners in several Iranian cities

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, February 14, 2021—On Sunday, pensioners and welfare recipients held protest rallies in several cities to reiterate their demands from the regime. 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.

At the time of this writing, simultaneous rallies were held in Tehran, Ahvaz, Karaj, Kermanshah, Neyshabur, Arak, Isfahan, Ilam, Kerman, Khorram Abad, Yazd, Qazvin, Sanandaj, Shiraz, and Tabriz. In Tehran, the pensioners and welfare recipients gathered in front of the Majlis (parliament), where a group of teachers had also gathered to protest low wages and other problems in the education system. A group of pensioners from Kermanshah also traveled to Tehran and joined the protest in front of the Majlis on Sunday.

In front of the Majlis, the protesters were chanting, “Enough with the tyranny, our tables are empty,” “Enough with the promises, our tables are empty,” “Our main demand is salaries that match the inflation rate,” “We will not stop until we get back our rights,” “High prices and inflation are ruining the people’s lives,” and “The retirement fund has been hijacked by a bunch of thieves.”

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. According to the regime’s own statistics, more than 75 percent of pensioners are struggling to procure their needs.

According to one of the protesters who spoke to the state-run ILNA news agency, “The livelihood basket is 90 million rials while our salaries, even counting the bonuses and adjustments, is still under 30 million rials, which is not fair in any way.”

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.

Pensioners have been continuously holding protest rallies, but the government has yet to respond to their demands.