A Tehran Municipality official said that they would use force against Tehran’s street peddlers.
Hamid Reza Tahsili, the head of the Tehran Industrial and Occupation Management Company affiliated with the Tehran Municipality said that he believed that some of Tehran’s street peddlers were mafias and had to be dealt with in an interview with the state-run ILNA news agency.
“I believe some of the street peddlers are mafias that should not exist. Some of them have been hired by some people and have taken over our streets and unfortunately they have rented out all the streets. We will definitely deal with force with these people because we have identified them,” he told ILNA.
The Tehran official said that other street peddlers who were not “mafias” had to go to specified locations in Tehran where they had to pay for the booths, tables and tents among other things.
This is while street peddlers can barely make enough to survive let alone pay for a booth.
When asked about recent incidents of street peddlers setting fire to themselves, Tahsili once again blamed what he called “mafias”.
“A street peddler who is really needy does not set himself on fire. Members of the mafia definitely self-immolate in a coordinated manner so as to force the Municipality to back down,” he said.
“Those who create this atmosphere or self-immolate, are mafia members who want us to back down and we will never see eye to eye with these people,” he added.
These comments are the latest from Iranian officials who hold the people of Iran in contempt.
It is obvious that Tahsili knows nothing about the desperation of a man who is unable to provide for his family and finds self-immolation as his only solace.
Street peddlers are the most deprived sector of the society despite the fact that according to a report, over 30% of Tehran’s street peddlers have university degrees and are unemployed.
They roam the streets in desperation to sell what little goods they have and many times fall victim to the prowling municipality agents in Tehran.
Dozens of videos have been uploaded on social media showing bulky municipality agents abusing, beating and using violence against street peddlers in various Iranian cities.
In addition to being abused, all their goods are confiscated which leaves them with nothing.
Many videos show the aftermath of the attacks, with the usually elderly man and woman sitting on the ground quietly wiping away tears or the younger peddlers crying out in sorrow.
According to reports from Tehran, street peddlers are sometimes forced to pay for the ground they sit on to sell their goods.
“The Municipality told me that I had to pay 100,000 tomans for each tile that I take up and because I took up two tiles, I had to pay 200,000 tomans per night,” a street peddler in Tehran said.
The increasing street peddlers in Iran are the product of Iran’s economic stagnation, the bankruptcy of factories, the waves of layoffs and most importantly Iranian officials’ institutionalized corruption.
All this and more has placed 80% of Iran’s population under the poverty line.