By INU Staff
INU - In the wake of the 2009 presidential election millions of Iranians demonstrated in the streets, and the Green Movement began. After nearly a week of protests all around Iran, 21 people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested. Videos have been posted online of people chanting, “Death to Khamenei”, and “Leave Syria alone, and think about our life.”
In an article by Roozbeh Mirebrahimim, Iranian-American journalist, and editor-in-chief of the Persian-language publication Iran in the World, he writes that his friend, who lives in Iran, said, “People are angry about mismanagement and corruption. Every time the president appears on TV, he describes our country as a paradise, where everything is fine and everyone is happy.”
However, unemployment is escalating, and the price of basic goods has also increased. The price of eggs, milk, potatoes and rice recently gone up by 50 percent. Gas price are also expected to rise by 50 percent.
Mirebrahimim’s friend said he knows claims to know someone working for a company under government control who hasn’t received his full salary for the last three months. Many Iranians are at a loss in their attempt to meet the basic needs of their families.
Still, what is occurring in Iran these days is different from 2009. At that time, mostly middle-class protesters in Tehran were involved. Mirebrahimim believes that it’s closer to what went on in the few weeks before the Islamic revolution of 1979. The current uprising spontaneously began in the city of Mashhad, and spread across the country quickly. Demonstrations have been staged in more than 40 cities in Iran, and these protests targeted the regime and the supreme leader who controls Iran.
There are three key things that occurred in 2017 to create the current situation, according to Mirebrahimim.
The first thing was the clear message sent by the Iranian people about the kind of society they want, when they elected President Hassan Rouhani to a second term, with 24 million votes. Rouhani promised more personal freedom, to support women’s rights, to improve access to social media, and to cut off the Revolutionary Guard Corps from the country’s economy. However, the president chose a Cabinet that didn’t meet his supporters’ expectations , particularly when he didn’t make any women ministers.
Next, the government published a budget proposal for the new year, a few weeks ago. The public paid attention to the details of the country’s budget, and it became a major topic in domestic discourse, as Iranians publicly debated it on social media. Citizens were angry over the large chunk of the budget was going to organizations and “charities” that don’t benefit the public and are mostly under the control of religious entities and the supreme leader’s office.
Iran’s population is suffering from unemployment, inflation and rising living costs. This especially affects the young people. Unemployment has risen to 12.4 percent — among youths, the rate has climbed to 28.8 percent. It’s not surprising then, that an Iranian official admitted that more than 90 percent of people who have been arrested in this uprising are under 25 years old and don’t have a criminal record.
The Iran nuclear deal went through two years ago, and citizens are angry that it didn’t solve the country’s economic problems. People are not seeing the improvement they expected.
Nearly three-quarters of Iran’s population is under 35. The majority of the population was born after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They want a better life with more opportunity. The Islamic Republic can’t seem to be able to adopt the new visions that this new generation is demanding.
For instance, Tehran police announced that 230 young Iranians had been arrested for attending mixed gender parties just 10 days ago, on the Yalda Night, a winter-solstice celebration.
Despite the government’s censorship efforts, most youths are connected to the rest of the world through the Internet and social media, especially in big cities. In fact, Iran was among the first countries in the Middle East to use the Internet and social media as a way to circulate news. This may be because people don’t trust state-run TV channels or government news agencies. As well, the Iranian citizens recognize that wherever you live, access to the Internet and other communication tools, helps you learn more and become more powerful.