Iranian pensioners held nationwide protests for the fourth week in a row on Sunday, but this time it coincided with the uprising in Sistan and Baluchistan province over the extrajudicial killings of fuel porters.
The retirees protested in Tehran, Arak, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Khorram Abad, Karaj, Mashhad, Shahrud, Shushtar, Yazd, and Zanjan.
In Tehran, they rallied outside the Social Security Organization and marched to the Budget and Planning Organization, chanting:
- “We will only get back our rights on the streets”
- “Yesterday’s toilers are today’s protesters”
- “Our main demand, salaries adjusted for inflation”
- “Our salaries are paid in rials, our expenses are in dollars”
- “We have nothing, you are living in luxury”
- “No nation has seen such injustice”
The pensioners are angry, much like other groups in Iran because the economy has been ruined by the government’s systematic corruption, mismanagement, and malign policies, like funding terrorism and missile programmes rather than healthcare.
All of this has caused the rial to decline in value, but the authorities have failed to rectify the situation for retirees by increasing pensions, which leaves many under the poverty line. In fact, according to the March 2020 census and economist Gholamreza Kianmehr, the 18 million Iranian retirees make up 96% of those living “under the absolutely poverty line”.
The state-run Mardom Salari daily advised last month that retirees are paid 2.5 million tomans, which is frightening because the poverty line is 10 million. This means that they cannot afford food, housing, clothing, medicine, education, or travel, most of which rises above inflation.
A sociologist Said Madani said that “poverty and unemployment are rampant and, there has been no such discrimination and economic poverty in Iran’s history”. While the deputy director of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, Hojatollah Abdolmaleki, said that food costs have quadrupled in just three years.
This is how most Iranians live, but those associated with the government live in luxury because they profit off the systems that keep the poor down. This is just one of the reasons that Iran is a powder keg waiting to explode into a nationwide uprising; something that MPs and the media have been warning about.
The state-run Etemad daily wrote Saturday that “the wild horse of unrest is going from one city to another, leaving many injuries and dangers in the system”, while the state-run Jahan-e Sanat wrote Sunday that the protests are like “a time bomb under the skin of society. No one knows when it will explode, but its dangers for the [system] are more devastating than an attack by a foreign force”.