Large numbers of former steelworkers have been demonstrating recently, holding protests across Syria in locations including outside the domestic headquarters of the state-run radio and TV headquarters building in Isfahan, to protest at their living conditions, with many saying they have still not received any of the state pension due to them despite retiring over six years ago.
Chanting, “No Syria, nor Gaza – retirement pensions now!” Leave the affairs of the Arabs and think about us, protesters at this demonstration, mostly former staff with the Mobarakeh Steel Company and Isfahan Steel Company, made it clear that they were frustrated with the regime’s failure to take care of pensioners who had worked for state businesses all their lives. Protests at government corruption and the worsening economic crisis are increasing across the country, with almost daily demonstrations by disgruntled savers left penniless by a string of closures of state-backed financial institutions, many of which are under the de facto control of the regime’s powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is believed to have stolen billions, bankrupting the finance houses. The savers are unable to even obtain any compensation, despite many losing their entire life savings.
Rather than fading away as time passes, the protests have grown and spread in recent months as more and more citizens express their anger about worsening poverty, deprivation, and unemployment, with the demonstrations now taking place in places which formerly had relatively high standards of living. Protesters are increasingly voicing regret at their earlier support for the 1979 Revolution which brought the Mullahs’ regime to power, chanting slogans such as, “We carried out the revolution, and this was our fault.”
The disillusioned protesters are also openly directly criticising Iran’s government, parliament, and judiciary, with slogans including “The government and Larijani, are a disgrace to the people”; Ali Larijani, the head of the parliament, is amongst those accused of exploiting his position to benefit himself and his own family rather than helping the Iranian people, with his brother promoted to take charge of the government’s judiciary. Protesters have unleashed anger at this nepotism and corruption, chanting slogans including, “The government and Larijani are a disgrace to the people.”
In November activists published footage of protests with participants openly condemning the Supreme Leader Khamenei, a worrying development for the regime, which exploits his status to woo support domestically. Chants of “Be ashamed Ali [a reference to Ali Khamenei] and step down!” have spread, with the Supreme Leader blamed for varies problems in the country, including intensifying corruption, endemic financial mismanagement and embezzlement, and worsening poverty
According to the data and statistics center of the Ministry of Labor and Welfare of Iran, the unemployment rates among university graduates and post-graduate students in Iran reached to 20 percent of the total last year. This percentage reached much higher levels in non-Persian areas such Arab Ahwaz region, Kurdish areas, and Baluchi areas.
Data from the labor market in Iran showed last spring that the unemployment rate among the young generation from 15 to 29 years ranged between 26 percent and 28 percent.
In a statement to Iranian Expediency Council member Mohammad Reza Bahner last August, the number of citizens living below the poverty line in the country reached 18 million out of 80 million, Nearly a quarter of the population. Other sources confirm that 25 million Iranians live below the poverty line.