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Iran protests: vibrant and continuous, one year on

Kurdistan - Students support for teachers on the second day of the teachers' general strike
Kurdistan - Students support for teachers on the second day of the teachers' general strike

Reported by PMOI/MEK

 

Iran, April 1, 2019 - During the past year, Iran has witnessed numerous anti-regime protests, demonstrations, and strikes from all walks of life, including workers, teachers, nurses and every other sector of the 80 million population in Iran.

People’s daily struggle such as high cost of living, inflation, unemployment, and government mismanagement resulting in environmental catastrophe has been the root source of protesters' concerns during the past year.

At first, slogans were focused on the high cost of living and unemployment, but they gradually developed into anti-regime chants and targeted the peak of the ruling establishment in the country.

A big question mark occupied the mind of many, especially the ruling elite. Are Iranian people really after a regime change? Are the people who are chanting“reformists, fundamentalists, the game is over” seek the toppling of the regime in its entirety with all of its inner divisions and mafia factions? And will the actual demands of protesters and strikers who have been on the streets almost every day lead to the downfall of the regime?

To answer that let us study the nature of the protests.

Economic difficulties, poverty, and systematic corruption have endangered the right to live and other basic fundamental rights of millions of people in Iran. But the root of all these calamities noting the principal structure of the government is hidden in the political system in Iran. Therefore, under the surface of economic grievances, the protests and unrests in the country are directed toward the ultimate power in the system, the Supreme Leader himself.

When the government uses the element of repression and tyranny against the population as a tool for holding on to power and not a path to fulfill its obligations to the people, the way forward for the public would be political and eventually turn to protests and strikes to be able to gain their lawful rights. 40 years of empty promises have pushed the people to rise up and demand their rights.

Unemployed youth who are struggling in poverty and destitute witness a systematic corruption and lack of comprehensive program by the government, lose their hope of finding employment, and not being able to find any other means of expressing their discontent, are ultimately driven to the streets to protest.

The root of these problems is that the regime places its priority on the export of terrorism and fundamentalism to the region and the world in whole, rather than focusing on the welfare and security of the people.

The political nature of protests can be interpreted by the overall analysis of the statistics and the numbers of annual protests and demonstrations during the past year.

 

A look at the protest events during last year

We witnessed a number of different large and small protest rallies during last year. There were four major protests and demonstrations happening in Iran last year.

  1. Kazerun unrest, which started on April 16, 2018,
  2. The unrest in southern Iranian cities in protest to the water crisis, which started early June and lasted until mid-July.
  3. Merchants’ uprising in protest to the devaluation of the rial, which started on June 24, 2018.
  4. Another general strike and uprising against the drastic drop in the value of rial and high cost of living spread to 28 cities after flaring on July 31, 2018.

 

We also witnessed more than 1,530 protest rallies during last year which amounted to 130 protest actions per month or an average five protests per day.

 

The reason behind these protests

The core reason behind workers’ social unrest can be summed up in two major factors:

  1. Salaries below the poverty line
  2. Massive layouts and lack of job security

 

Truck drivers’ strike

More than 4,070 strikes were recorded during last year involving truck drivers. This was one of the largest and most organized strikes in the past year. Some of their demands were as follows:

  • Low transportation fare
  • The unjust distribution of loads
  • Reduction in insurance coverage
  • The disproportionate increase in the price of tires and spare parts

 

Despite the arrest of more than 260 truck drivers and the threat of execution hanging over their head, truck drivers engaged in five separate rounds of strikes.

 

Teachers’ protests and strikes

More than 850 protest movements were recorded last year involving teachers. This averaged to 72 protest actions per month or three per day. We also witnessed three major nationwide strikes during September, October, November, and February in more than 110 cities.

 

The reason behind teachers’ protests and strikes

  • Poor living conditions
  • Unofficial employment status
  • Unpaid wages for months
  • Repression and arrest of coworkers
  • Imbalance salary compared to other government employees

 

Student protest movements

More than 240 student protest rallies were recorded during last year amounting to 20 protest rallies per month.

 

Students’ major protests

  • Consecutive days of protest by the Research Science University students regarding a bus crash that killed ten, including eight university students, and injured dozens.
  • Consecutive sit-ins and protest gathering in support of Ahvaz steel and Haft-Tappeh Sugar Cane workers.
  • Protests gatherings to mark the Student Day,
  • Protests against charging fees in public universities
  • Protests against rejecting students after they were formally enrolled in Azad University
  • Protests against long term imprisonment for students
  • Protests against lack of attention to the welfare of students

 

Protests by plundered shareholders of government-linked financial institutions

More than 280 protest rallies by plundered shareholders were recorded last year averaging at 23 protests per month. Such protests have continued during the past two years. The majority of these protests have taken place in the capital Tehran, Mashhad and Rasht in the northern part of the country. Protesters’ endurance forced the regime to fire Valliollah Saif, the head of Iran’s Central Bank.

 

Farmers’ protests

More than 180 protest movements were recorded last year averaging at 15 protest rallies per month.

Most of these protests were carried out by Isfahan farmers especially in the city of Varzaneh and Khoorasgan.

 

Pensioners’ protests

More than 100 protest rallies were recorded during last year averaging at nine protests per month.

Pensioners also took part in a number of coordinated protest rallies in different cities.

 

Prisoners’ protests

More than 290 protest rallies were recorded last year amounting to 24 rallies per month.

 

General protests

More than 1,100 protest rallies also recorded last year throughout the country by people from all walks of life amounting to 92 protest rallies per month, or three per day.

 

Summary:

The reality is that beyond numbers, the above statistics reflect a society boiling from anger and discontent, which rejects the ruling regime in its entirety. A society that is aiming to achieve freedom and progress during this year. A society that is adamant to get rid of this tyranny and dictatorship.

People, especially the youth in Iran, have shown that they are hopeful of a new and bright prospect for future and beyond the darkness and horror of religious fundamentalism, rises freedom and democracy.