The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) reported that the pensioners across Iran have been organizing rallies over the past three weeks to claim their most fundamental rights. The events took place across more than 20 cities and counties, including Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Arak, Ahvaz, Karaj, Qazvin, Rasht, Sari, Shushtar, Dezful, Haft Tappeh, Ardebil, Yazd, Neyshabur, Khorram Abad, Ilam, and Bojnurd.
This was the fifth demonstration by Iranian retirees in the past two months. The movement has risen in numbers and is increasingly becoming more political and radical in nature.
The demonstrators have been chanting slogans against systemic corruption, oppression, and dictatorship in the Iranian regime, besides their basic rights; “Astronomical salaries [for government officials], public misery,” “We’re fed up with this injustice,” “We’re not going to go back down until we get our rights,” “Enough with their tyranny, our tables are empty,”
The coronavirus epidemic has been used by the Mullahs as protection and defense against the explosion of public indignation following the protests in November 2019. However, the socioeconomic and living conditions of the people today have declined to such a desperate point that even the pandemic and the oppressive regime cannot hold the people off the streets.
On 18 February, the chief of the Tehran City Council, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, warned, “If we don’t consider the November 2019 and December 2017 incidents as the threshold of the society’s tolerance reaching its threshold, we are now in a similar situation and the conditions are growing worse by the day.”
To appreciate the explosive state of society, we only need to look at the warnings published by regime leaders, experts, media, and analysts in the last few days.
On 20 February the Setareyeh Sobh daily stated “The people’s purchasing power has declined, the national currency has crashed, inequality has increased, the misery index has risen in comparison to 2017, unemployment has increased, environmental conditions have worsened, and the people’s lives are becoming harder.”
Vatan-e Emrooz daily wrote on 20 February 20, “In the past ten months, liquidity has increased by 7,440 trillion rials, which is a one-and-half times increase in comparison to the previous year. Liquidity in Iran is in a dangerous state.”
The magnitude of the corruption is so immense that it is even evident in conflicts between factions of the regime. MP Moussavi Larijani declared on 20 February, “1,500 trillion rials, equivalent to 70 billion dollars, of the country’s wealth, has dissipated into the stock market.”
Larijani referred to the huge bust of the stock market after a bubble growth induced by regime officials and attracted many small investors to a market dominated by government-run gangs. To the benefit of government-linked investors and businesses, the stock market decline has ruined the finances and lives of the Iranian people.
The ongoing rallies are another sign of the turbulent state of society, triggered by the regime’s corruption. The indignation of the people is increasingly growing as the regime continues to steal the country’s resources and spend it on its leaders’ destructive ambitions, and it is only a matter of time before it hits the point of no return.