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News from inside Iran: major protests against police, unpaid wages, and municipal contractors

“News from inside Iran” covers major weekly news stories and developments from within Iran.

Ministry of Roads faces protests by Sohanak, Morad-Abaad residents

On Wednesday, June 15th, residents of the villages of Sohanak and Morad-Abaad to Iran’s northeast rallied in front the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development building. They were protesting the regime’s refusal to allow them to undertake construction projects.

The Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, an Iranian government body overseeing construction, roads, rail, sea, and international transport, has been criticized by some for practicing cronyism.

Metal Factory Workers Strike in Karaj

Thursday, June 16th, the workers of Saman Felez metal structures manufacturing plant protested against the non-payment of 6 months of wages by the company.

This was the workers’ second protest this week against unpaid wages, which Saman Felez have not yet promised to compensate.

Such situations are becoming more frequent as Iran deals with an ongoing economic crisis, of which nuclear sanctions were only one part. Last week, Iran’s government acknowledged that 80 factories had been closed.

The Saman Felez factory, which is in the small industrial town of Sepehr-Nazar to the northwest of Tehran, has lacked funding from the Iranian government, fueling workers’ anxiety that massive layoffs may soon take place.

Market traders of Kashan stage sit-in protest in mosque

On Thursday, market traders in Kashan, a city in central Iran, began a sit-in protest in Imam-Saden mosque against municipal contractors’ failure to comply with health and safety regulations.

The market traders have said that they have been victims of massive extortion by the contractors, and that the municipality has turned a blind eye to this practice. Dangerous construction dust, damage to goods, and the barricade of loading trucks were among the traders’ chief complaints.

“Guidance Patrol” police clash with civilians in Tehran

Gahshte Frshad, or “Guidance Patrol” police, clashed with civilians on Thursday after reportedly harassing women and other people at a dress market in Tehran.

Their behavior sparked an outcry from passersby, as well as women who were at the market to buy dresses. Shopkeepers also joined in to protest the officers’ behavior.

In one case, two youths clashed with the officers.

The Gahshte Frshad, or “Morality Police”, enforces proper modes of dress and behavior, often in civilian clothes. They have prompted public backlash and occasionally attract criticism from Iranian presidents. Iran’s judiciary controls the Gahshte Frshad.

Municipal workers protest colleagues’ imprisonment in Ahvaz

Municipal workers in Ahvaz, a city in southwestern Iran, have begun a protest in front of the municipality building in that city’s fourth district. They have demanded the release of their colleagues, who were recently detained.

The workers claim that they have not been given any information on the reason or nature of the detentions.

“After one-day temporary detention at the police station, the workers were transferred to Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz”, said one protestor.

“We are concerned about the safety of our colleagues”, said another.

According to the protestors, the arrested workers demanded payment of 2 months of unpaid wages. After the arrest of their colleagues, the workers intensified their protests.

The arrests, which occured on Monday, June 13th, included the detention of 24 other protesting workers in Ahvaz, who were also protesting unpaid wages.

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