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State-Controlled Waste Mafia Runs Modern Slavery in Iran

Garbage collecting has become a common image in Iran’s cities and streets.

One of the most painful images that can be seen on Iran’s streets is one of the people who are forced to make a living from collecting garbage. Such images make one question if such a situation actually exists in a wealthy country like Iran.

In an interview aired on the regime’s TV, a reporter asked a man who was collecting garbage, “What are you doing?” In response, the man said, “Lady, I’m unemployed. I’m a very good blacksmith. I can do everything. Everything that you say. But I’m unemployed.”

On April 18, in an acknowledgment of the unprecedented spread of refuse collection ‘workers’, the Hamdeli daily wrote, “Waste bins in the fertile country of Iran will never be without customers. Customers sometimes line up to bend into bins and pull-out leftover food and recycled material from wet to dry waste. The number of customers of the bins has increased so much that the current bins in many cities do not seem to be enough for waste collectors.”

It added, “If you take a short walk through the streets and alleys of the capital, from children aged 10 and 11 to old men in their 70s and 80s, from young boys to large family groups and even women, all kinds of people with their private cars, motorcycles, carts and even only with plastic handbags, are among the waste collectors.”

A video distributed on social media, showed a woman collecting waste in Ahvaz, the oil-rich province of Iran. The reporter in the video said, “See this woman who is collecting waste. Where? In front of the National Drilling Company. My God, what should I say? Who is responsible? God damn the perpetrators. These are our oil rigs in Ahvaz. And this woman is collecting waste while oil is under her feet.”

In a report on the spread of this disaster, the state-run Bahar daily on May 24 wrote, “Javid walks around the city three times a day to collect waste to find something. He says he must make ends meet for the family. he says, ‘For a year now, we have neither eaten meat nor bought clothes. It is not possible to pay the costs of a family by selling waste. I must look in the trash and make a living from it. From time to time, I may find a pair of shoes or clothes in the bucket.”

The same daily also exposed the role of the regime’s-controlled mafia in this catastrophe, quoting a little boy who said, “Our work starts at 4 pm and we work until 2 in the morning. We put the collected waste sacks aside so that a car picks us up. Then we load the waste sacks into the car and go to the recycling center.”

In reference to the power of this regime’s mafia, the state-run Hamdeli daily wrote on April 18, “It should be noted that behind the waste, also known as dirty gold, there is a billion mafia. This mafia has become so strong and influential that the Tehran Municipality Waste Management Organization has also lagged behind them.”

It further wrote, “A few years ago, the then director of the Tehran Municipal Waste Management Organization, desperately spoke about a strong mafia, collecting dry waste in Tehran. Reza Abdoli said: ‘Because this is very profitable if we want to organize them, they will resist. It seems that the municipality of Tehran has failed to compete with the mafia that pockets the wealth left in Tehran. The waste mafia, in addition to cutting off the municipality from the waste dump, has sewn a gold bag from the pain of the waste collectors.”

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