Iran: Endless Living Crises, Human Rights Violations

A Sensational Sectarian Rhetoric and a Government Brewing the Streets

 Iranians protest against the surge in fuel prices (AFP)
Iranians protest against the surge in fuel prices (AFP)

Iran: Endless Living Crises, Human Rights Violations

During setbacks and crises, warnings are issued by loyalists before the opposition, out of fear of losing control and facing worse conditions and the collapse of the state. Iran today is facing the aforementioned in light of the exacerbating the daily living crises of Iranian citizens who are groaning under the burden of the siege on the one hand, and the lack of proper utilization of the state’s resources and wealth on the other hand. A warning came from within the ruling elite, as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned during his speech in the city of Bushehr, as quoted by “Dawlat Bahar” website what he called: “the flood of public discontent.” This is an indication of what Tehran will witness due to the state of general resentment prevailing in the country due to the successive failures of the Iranian governments in resolving daily living crises. According to Ahmadinejad: “Human torrents are flocking across the world and in Iran in particular, and the first step is public resentment.”

This warning concerned with the serious and aggravating situation is consistent with what MP Muhammad Hassan Asfari, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s Internal Affairs Committee, also spoke of during a press interview. He criticized the government’s decision to lift subsidies for the import of food commodities. “When we want to resolve economic problems using people’s money, we cannot eradicate the roots of poverty. Rather, the severity of poverty is increasing every day,” Asfari said. He stressed that the policies adopted by the Iranian government in tackling economic crises are not fruitful because “they cannot be resolved with promises and words,” as he put it. He also undermined any steps that can be taken in order to solve this crisis, such as raising the salaries of government workers. Asfari believes that increasing the rate, even if it reaches 75 percent, will not eradicate the issue of poverty that the Iranian society suffers from. He indicated that there are at least “9 million Iranian families suffering under the poverty line... and that the majority of families are awaiting aid from the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and the State Welfare Organization of Iran, which are concerned with caring for people with limited income in the country.”

In the same context, Mohammed Hassan Abu Turabi, Tehran’s preacher, warned in his sermon last Friday (6 May 2022) that “the country’s economic problems are a sure result of the economic policies of the past decades, and that no rash decisions should be taken in dealing with the economic issues.” The Islahat News website carried the statement of Taqi Fadel Mebdi, a member of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom, who warned in a letter sent to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi: “If the country’s economic conditions do not improve, and the high prices are not curbed, we must wait for the rebellion of the hungry … and that a rebellion is more dangerous than a revolution.”

Escalation of protests by workers, unpaid salaries, unsafe working conditions, arbitrary arrests, and trials


Needless to say, these warnings did not come out of nowhere. Several indicators show that some Iranian cities have begun to witness incidents similar to what happened on the occasion of International Workers’ Day (on May 1, 2022), which coincides with the Iranian Teacher’s Day. On that day, some joint gatherings were organized between workers and employees of the Ministry of Education, in order to protest the repercussions of inflation that exceeded forty percent on their salaries amid difficult economic conditions. In response, the security forces launched an arrest campaign targeting the protesters, as announced by the Coordinating Committee of Teachers and Trade Unions. Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian authorities to release the teachers. It is noteworthy that these protests were not the first of their kind. Recently, there have been similar protests during which demonstrators were also arrested. Human Rights Watch revealed that in mid-April, the union teacher Rasoul Badaghi was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in demonstrations. This was in compliance with what Yousef Nouri, the Iranian Minister of Education, had announced when he said that “the matter does not end here, but the teachers participating in the protests will be expelled because they are illegal,” as he described it.

It was not only the teachers who protested. Some Iranian cities in the Khuzestan region in the south of the country witnessed demonstrations during the past week (7-8 May 2022) that protested the poor economic and living conditions. This prompted the Iranian forces to send military reinforcements, armored vehicles and riot forces to suppress protests and arrest dozens of citizens, as mentioned by reports issued by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivering a speech in a parliament session (AFP)


However, what is noteworthy is that despite these warnings from loyalists of the Iranian regime who represent part of the ruling elite, as they are aware of the seriousness of the situation and its repercussions on internal stability. They fear that such protests that Iran is experiencing at intervals not far apart will grow into a point of no return that threatens the state and the disintegration of its bonds. The feared scenario is similar to the case of Arab countries, like in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. However, what increases the seriousness of the Iranian situation compared to what the Arab countries are witnessing lies in the reasons behind these demonstrations. What the Arab countries are witnessing is due in large part not only to the failures of the governments of these countries as much as to the size of external interventions and the attempts of the meddlers to impose their agenda on other parties. Meanwhile in Tehran, the protests are the result of the failures of the policies of the previous and current Iranian governments. This deems addressing the causes of these demonstrations more complicated in the Iranian case than in the cases of neighboring Arab countries. If it is true that the Iranian government, which is a tool in the hands of its Supreme Leader, succeeded every time in containing such disturbances and demonstrations under the force of arms and arrests, then it is also true that the renewal of these demonstrations and protests and then suppressing them by force of arms increases the strength of the internal tension that paves the way for an explosion that could erupt at any moment. The crisis would escalate and ways to mitigate its severity are complicated by the sedating measures that the Iranian government is taking in an attempt to provide to its citizens, whether by increasing their salaries or ignoring the payment of their dues to government entities or through a religious discourse that agitates the feelings and blinds the mind.

The developments and escalation of events, and the increasing intertwining and complexity of crises, make it difficult for the state to link all the threads of events and control them. Iranian officials need to realize the difficulty and danger of the current event, and of manipulating rights and freedoms, especially the basic ones for citizens (food, drink, clothing, housing, education and health...). Some Iranian human rights organizations warned that the government might try to exploit the visit of Alina Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, in an attempt to evade accountability for human rights violations. Iranian officials sought to market this visit, during which Douhan is scheduled to meet in Iran with representatives of international and regional organizations, financial institutions, non-governmental groups, as well as civic groups, in addition to government officials, provided that the results and recommendations of the visit will be presented in a report to the 51st session of the Human Rights Council next September. This apprehension on the part of the opposition comes amidst the notion that receiving Douhan should not be a substitute for the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, which Tehran has refused receiving for several years now. Meanwhile, it welcomed the visit of the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, according to Kazem Gharibabadi, Vice-President of the Judiciary for International Affairs and the Secretary-General of the High Council for Human Rights. He said, “This visit represents a strong opportunity to get acquainted with the negative effects of the unilateral embargo on the rights of the Iranian people.”

Part of the teachers’ demonstrations

It is useful to say that the Iranian human rights portfolio is full of distortions and grave violations of the rights of Iranian citizens. Perhaps what is happening with some foreigners residing in Iran and visiting confirms that the human rights violations are not a single behavior or an expression of the direction of an institution, as much as they represent a governance and policy approach of a state that sees in violations of the basic rights of the citizen an excuse to cover up its repeated failures. These are the result of its preoccupation with foreign intervention and building its weapons programs at the expense of providing the basic needs for the citizen who has suffered for more than 40 years since the mullahs came into power and plunged the state into a cycle of conflicts, wars and conspiracies. The Iranian citizen ended up paying the price of false arguments and empty slogans that failed to feed the hungry stomachs and provide the required treatments. Citizens nowadays are entangled in a cycle of living crises, being unable to meet their basic needs.

This is the reality of the Iranian situation at home; A religious discourse that tantalizes feelings, a government that fails to perform its tasks and mandates, a Revolutionary Guard that practices the utmost opportunism at home and aggression abroad. Among them are the people groaning and sacrificing their lives and their freedoms at other times in an attempt to break from this closed loop in which there is no hope for a future that rebuilds the Iranian state for the future generations. These generations see turbans as nothing but tools for domination and mechanisms to control the capabilities of oppressed peoples to deceive them under the slogan of defending religion, which is no longer steady as it was before. The current events taking place on the Iranian streets today and before are a warning to those who realize the difficulty of the situation and the seriousness of its repercussions. If the situation explodes and conditions deteriorate, the Iranian people will have no choice but to resort to the streets to let out some steam.

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