Iran has seen a new wave of peaceful rallies by student and worker groups. Students have been demanding improved resources at their universities, while professional groups have protested severe tax laws, among other issues.
September saw a wave of student protests in Iran protesting the policies of the Islamic Republic.
On Saturday, October 1, a group of students in Khajeh Nasir University in Tehran held a demonstration and staged a hunger strike on the university’s campus to protest against the poor condition of dormitories and hikes in enrollment charges, as well as the low quality and rising prices of the food served at the university.
A large group of students gathered with signs and chanted “We do not pay extortionate fees” during the heated rally.
The same day, Amir Kabir University, also located in Tehran, saw students stage a demonstration in the university’s conference hall to protest while speeches by university officials were taking place. The university’s president was also present at the time. They echoed many of the same problems voiced by the Khajeh Nasir students.
In Bou Ali University in Hamadan, western Iran, students gathered outside the university’s main building to protest the lack of internet service, and at Tehran’s Oil Industry University, students called for changes in the quotas of student employment in the Oil Ministry.
Earlier in the week, labor groups also staged several protests throughout Iran.
In Dezful, a city in southwestern Iran, urban green space workers held a rally in front of the governor’s office to protest unpaid wages on Thursday, September 29. The workers say that during the past few months they have only been paid a small amount by their contractor. They also claim that their bonuses and rewards from 2015 have not yet been paid, and that healthcare services for themselves and their families have been cut due to nonpayment of insurance premiums by the contractor.
In Aran va Bigdol, a city in central Iran, a group of carpet manufacturers held a rally on the same day protesting value-added tax, as well as tax and market stagnation. They threatened factory closures if their demands were not met. At the same time in Bandar-e Khomeini, southwestern Iran, a citizen rally was held in front of the towns’ Prefect building protesting a lack of personal security.
Protesting in Iran can be an extremely dangerous endeavor. Labor union members and leaders are often detained without explanation. In May, seventeen workers from Agh Dareh gold mine in Iran were publicly flogged after protesting the firing of 350 of their colleagues. In February, During times of election or political instability, arrests and suppression of peaceful protest tend to increase.
Although labor unions are officially banned in Iran, workers continue to organize and protest due to the desperation they face. This is particularly true after long periods of unpaid wages, a common occurence in Iran.