Every year, the international community marks August 12 as International Youth Day, drawing attention to cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. This IYD is the 21st consecutive year of this awareness day, which was designated by the United Nations in 2000 for the first time.
“Young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, praising the role of youth. “I urge everyone to guarantee young people a seat at the table as we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all.”
Given the international developments and events, the UN chooses a specific slogan for the day. For instance, IYD’s slogan for 2014 and 2015 was ‘Youth and Mental Health’ and ‘Youth and Civic Engagement,’ respectively. However, in 2016, the UN introduced a longstanding schedule, named, ‘The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.’
The theme for 2021 IYD is ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.’ To achieve these themes, the UN and non-profit organizations hold a number of events, including concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings, across the globe, inciting the youth and states to orient to these principles.
Youth Conditions in Iran
In other words, the civilized world highlights the imperative of youth’s mental health and civic engagement, and promotes the ‘eradicating of poverty,’ ‘building peace and safe spaces,’ ‘preventing conflicts,’ ‘supporting inclusion and social justice,’ and ‘transforming education’ to make education inclusive and accessible for all youth.
However, authorities in Iran lead the country to the other way around. Indeed, they annually impose further restricting measures and try to disappoint the young generation about a better future. They respond to any social and economic objection with violence.
In recent years, authorities have arbitrarily detained and murdered thousands of youth who were involved in peaceful protests against the dire status quo. Since 2017, the Iranian government has killed at least 1,700 protesters, mostly young and teenage citizens, within peaceful demonstrations.
Meanwhile, systematic corruption has abandoned millions of graduated youth unemployed, pushing them to hold constant protests for an occupation. On the other hand, poverty and economic failures cause to dropout millions of students every year, which would bring unimaginable consequences in the future.
In the southwestern province of Khuzestan, unemployment, and poverty have pushed youth to struggle for very low-income occupations while this region sits on a sea of petroleum and gas. This is the same story in the southern provinces of Iran, where systematic discrimination has deprived citizens of fundamental services, let alone jobs.
Furthermore, treacherous deals with foreign countries have either destroyed natural resources or put them on auction. Farmers had to leave their productive lands due to severe water shortages, and livestock farmers send their dairy and pregnant cows to the slaughterhouse given high prices of forage and preserving expenses.
In such circumstances, many youths in cross-bordering provinces such as Kurdistan, in the west of Iran, and Sistan & Baluchistan, in the southeastern of the country were forced to take hard and risky careers, including transferring heavy cargos in western mountains or fuel in southeastern deserts, to make ends meet.
Therefore, not only have the authorities in Iran abandoned millions of youth in unemployment, poverty, and misery but also responded to any rightful protest with lethal force. The government has even planned to cut off Iran’s young generation from outside with censorship and restricted measures about social media platforms.
Such oppressive behaviors have disappointed much youth while the country has a global record of suicide among youth and minors. On the other hand, the youth are the leading force in any social protest and anti-establishment activity. Today, many young people believe that their homeland needs fundamental changes in social and political aspects. In this context, they join the opposition to declare their real desire for freedom, justice, and a decent life.