Iranian pensioners and stock market investors held protest gatherings in 20 cities across Iran yesterday.
Pensioners took to the streets for the fourth time in the past two months to express their economic grievances. They directed their anger towards Iran’s President and chanted “Down with Rouhani” in the western province of Kermanshah. The pensioners held banners reading “the poverty line is 10 million (tomans), our wages are 2 million (tomans)”, and “security and livelihood is our right”.
Pensioners gathered outside the Social Security Organization buildings in Tehran, Karaj near Tehran, Arak southwest of Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd in central Iran, Tabriz, Ardabil, Abhar, and Zanjan in northwest Iran, Mashhad and Neyshabur in northeastern Iran, Babol and Rasht in northern Iran, Shushtar, Ahvaz and Shiraz in southwestern Iran, and Sanandaj, Khorramabad, Ilam, and Kermanshah in western Iran.
Iranian pensioners demanded higher wages, healthcare, and better livelihood conditions.
Pensioners are angry because of the huge difference between their pensions and the poverty line, despite having spent 30-50 years of their lives in the work force. Their current wages are about a fourth of the current poverty line in Iran.
In January alone, pensioners took to the streets twice in an organized effort. On January 3, pensioners gathered in 16 cities to express their economic woes and demand higher pensions.
They laid out tablecloths on the ground in a symbolic measure to imply that they could not afford food and their basic needs.
Before this, pensioners held gatherings in December 2020 in over 8 provinces.
Some of their placards held direct messages to the regime’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, asking him to improve their living conditions.
Due to a record low of the national currency and economic problems, as well as corruption and mismanagement in Iran, the poverty line for a family of four has increased to 10 million tomans (around $415). The absolute poverty line is 6.8 million tomans (around $282), which puts 50% of the Iranian population, including pensioners, under the line of “absolute poverty”.
Stock market investors protest
Stock market investors also gathered in Tehran for two consecutive days to demand their lost savings. Stock market investors are angry for being misled by senior regime officials into investing all their savings into stocks.
Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader and Rouhani both advised Iranians to invest in stocks.
“My advice has been given many times. Use internally produced products. Participate in productive investments, those who can, including in stocks and cooperatives,” Khamenei said in a televised speech in late November 2019.
“Investing in (gold) coins and the dollar are not suitable. But stocks and the oil market are (suitable). We want people to invest in a reliable source that will have returns for them, not losses,” Rouhani told Iranians in September 2020.
On January 17, Iran’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament said the government had taken advantage of the country’s stock market which has been mostly in the red for the past few days.
“The government has been inadequate, has had misconducts and has taken advantage of the stock market,” Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh said in comments carried by the state-run Mehr News Agency.
A state-run daily reported on January 21 that more than two million Iranian stock market investors lost their savings in the stock market. The daily wrote that a quick glance at the stock market trend from the beginning of the year shows interference which initially led to stocks soaring and then plunging very quickly.
Iranian stock market investors held several protests for consecutive days in November 2020 as well to demand their lost savings.