The disturbances of the Iranian economy was once again highlighted during the recent popular protests and uproar in the country. In January 2018, a wave of protests and uprising spread to more than 140 cities across Iran where people demanded a regime change.
The Iranian authorities dismissed people’s complaints and claimed that “foreign” forces were behind the protests and responded by brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrators, including the arrest of more than 8000 people and torture of detainees. Dozens of protesters were killed while in detention but the regime absurdly claimed they committed suicide!
Despite the brutal suppression, the protests continue even today. While demonstrators chanted slogans protesting against miserable economic conditions at first, the protests ever since spread to many cities and continued against the totality of Iran regime with people chanting slogans such as “Reformists, Hardliners, game is over,” rejecting all factions of the regime. They also chanted “Down with Khamenei, Down with Rouhani” indicating their will to end the dictatorship in Iran.
Moreover, following a previous call for a massive strike, truck drivers in various cities across Iran launched a massive nationwide strike on Tuesday May 22, 2018, that is now entered its 5th day. The strike has now spread to more than 168 cities across the country where thousands of truckers joined the strike.
Meanwhile, according to the World Happiness Reports undertaken by relevant international organisations, Iran is one of the unhappiest countries, which according to this year’s statistics (2018) ranks 108 in a total of 155 countries.
The exacerbation of economic inequality is one of the main causes of the people’s discontent. At this point in time, approximately 40% of the villages and 30% of the cities in Iran are below the poverty line. Which makes sense because countries with the highest levels of inequality are proved to have the most economic and social disturbances as well.
Mosafa Moeen, a professor at Tehran’s University of Medical Sciences stated on the 9th May 2018: “The statistics indicate that the disparity and injustice in our country is very severe and serious; and as a result, our people are faced with many problems now.”
“According to the Fragile State Index of 2014, Iran is among the most fragile countries; in other words, it is one of the most unstable, in terms of social, economic, and political factors; the inequalities between genders are also very significant, and therefore, very dangerous,” he added.
On the lack of happiness in Iran, Gharaei Moghaddam, a sociologist and professor at Tehran University, emphasized: “To be very frank, Iran’s people are not happy. We must acknowledge the importance of happiness as the basis of life. Even though the people of India are poor, they are still much happier than our people”.
He also commented on the direct impact of employment on ‘social happiness’ and said: “Roughly 3.5 million of our young citizens are unemployed, and as a result, are unable to experience happiness. Besides, ‘confidence in future’ is another important factor. We have around 9 million young Iranians who are ready to get married, but don’t have a clear picture of what their future will look like…in saying that, how can they possibly be happy?”
Given such poor circumstances and high inflation, people would of course rather speak out and protest. The explosive social consequences of the unacceptable circumstances in Iran are reflected in the recent protests and strikes across the country, which is ultimately indicative of massive changes ahead.