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Pensioners, Public Employees Protest Iranian Government's 'Lies,' Hypocrisy'

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda June 14, 2022

Pensioners and retired public employees have again taken to the streets in the southern city of Ahvaz amid growing discontent over living conditions in Iran and the government's failure to address the problem.

Videos released from the June 14 rally in front of the Ahvaz governor's office showed demonstrators chanting against what they called the "lies" and "hypocrisy" of the Islamic republic's officials.

"You talk about Imam Husayn, but you act like thieves," referring to Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and the third Shia Imam.

The recent round of protests by pensioners and retirees comes after the government announced on June 6 that it would increase the monthly salaries of non-minimum wage retirees by 10 percent, far below a previous pledge for a hike of 38 percent plus 5.15 million Iranian rials ($16).

Legislation to enact the increase was rejected by lawmakers, leading to the lower increase, which pensioners say is too little given that the inflation rate currently stands at more than 45 percent.

At the rallies, which have taken place for several days, people have complained that the government's promises and statements fail to reflect the reality of their lives and those of their families.

Earlier on June 14, Labor Minister Hojjatullah Abdul Maleki, who supported a 10 percent increase in non-minimum wage pensions, resigned.

It is not clear whether his resignation was related to the protests, but a senior lawmaker blamed the minister's "incompetence" for the unrest.

Abdul Maleki is the first cabinet minister to resign since hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi came to power last year.

His remarks on economics and employment have been repeatedly criticized and ridiculed by experts and cyberspace activists. Prior to taking office, he had said that anyone could start a business with a budget of 10 million Iranian rials ($31).

The president accepted Abdul Maleki's resignation and appointed Mohammad-Hadi Zahedivafa as the caretaker labor minister.

Devastated by years of harsh economic sanctions imposed by Washington since the United States pulled out of an accord with global superpowers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program, many Iranians have launched protests in recent months to decry the government's inability to help their lives.

In addition, Iran's economy has struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left at least 2 million Iranians jobless and resulted in soaring consumer prices.

Most of the protests have been met with security crackdowns.

Written and reported by Ardeshir Tayebi

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/pensioners-protest- iran-government/31898100.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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