Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1066/29954

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 November 2019

Regime's fuel price rise sparks massive protests across Iran

2018 Workers Day protests in Iran, photo Armin Karami/CC, photo Armin Karami/CC

2018 Workers Day protests in Iran, photo Armin Karami/CC, photo Armin Karami/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Robert Bechert, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

Iran has been shaken by a new nationwide wave of anger and protests after a sudden overnight government announcement that imposed a 50% fuel price rise on the cost of fuel.

This measure - accompanied by a reduction from 250 litres to 60 litres per vehicle per month, in the amount sold at a lower price - was a spark that ignited a fire. Sometimes literally so, as banks and other buildings were attacked by angry protesters.

The night-time announcement of the price hike provoked immediate protests around the country with demonstrations, attempts to block traffic and attacks on official buildings.

State-backed news media reported 88,000 participating in protests in 100 cities and towns, during which 100 banks and 57 shops were set on fire or plundered. In Isfahan alone, 69 banks were torched.

The Reuters news agency reported: "Hundreds of young and working-class Iranians expressed their anger at squeezed living standards, state corruption and a deepening gap between rich and poor".

Desperate to stop the protests growing in size and scope, the regime used brutal repression while shutting down the public internet and international online communications.

Amnesty International has said that it has reliable information that 106 people have been killed during these protests, overwhelmingly protesters. Unofficial reports say over 200 have been killed and 3,000 injured.

Alongside repression, the authoritarian regime sought to defuse opposition. Iran's vice-president for budget affairs stated: "The president insists that all extra income should be paid back to people".

Extra monthly state handouts for the poorest 60 million out of Iran's 82 million people were announced. The first part of the compensation payments, ranging from $13 to $48 a month, was rapidly paid into the bank accounts of the poorest 60 million.

But, although this fuel price rise was explained as a switch in government subsidies rather than an attempt to increase revenue, it still provoked an immediate response.

US sanctions

Trump's re-imposition of sanctions has hit the Iranian economy hard. While there is talk of some recent stabilisation, the economy is still contracting. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting a 9.5% drop in Iran's GDP (total economic output) for 2019, while the World Bank is slightly less gloomy, seeing a 8.7% drop. While inflation has fallen from 52.1% in May to 28.3%, last month, this is due to a combination of a currency stabilisation and the declining economy.

Unemployment has also fallen to 10.5%, but this is partly because the Iranian regime has followed many other governments in claiming anyone who works an hour a week or more is not unemployed. But among youth the official rate is still 26%. During this month's protests, a common chant was: "We are unemployed! We have no future!"

The protests' geographical spread was wider than the wave of workers' demonstrations and strikes that developed in November 2017 and which continued into early 2018.

The workers' movement which began two years ago was, however, extremely significant because it represented a new stage in the building of workers' organisations. This struck fear into the hearts of both wings of the regime, the 'hardliners' and the 'moderate-reformists'.

As the CWI wrote at the time: "A new revolutionary tide is rising in Iran. Although the bulk of this new wave is the people who were born after the revolution, the 1979 revolution's glorious days still inspires the current generation.

"Iranian workers have been to the fore of the protests that started in November 2017. Significantly, many of the demands that have arisen are not just economic and social but are political, including the right to form independent workers' organisations, for renationalisation of privatised companies and for some form of workers' control."

The regime's response, especially as the 2017-18 movement ebbed, was repression, which has been continuing.

In the recent months before the fuel protests there have been both strikes and other workers' protests over different issues, including wage levels, non-payment of wages, victimisation, and the right to form independent trade unions. At the same time, more trade union and other activists have been sentenced to jail terms, some of which have been accompanied by floggings.

But this repression did not prevent this latest upsurge. Iran is simmering and could once again quickly boil over. The Financial Times has spoken of Iran's "increasingly restless population" and the "sense of injustice and disillusionment" in the country.

There is popular scepticism towards the regime and anger against corruption and a willingness to struggle. This combination is, once again, deepening the divisions and conflict between the different wings of the regime that manoeuvre against each other and, in the run-up to next February's parliamentary elections, accuse the other of corruption.

Initially, some 'hardliners' called for the fuel price increase to be reversed as part of their opposition to President Rouhani.

However, they stepped back after Iran's 'Supreme Leader' Ayatollah Khamenei, obviously fearful at the speed and intensity of the protests, stated his support for the increase.

The utterly hypocritical Trump administration's declarations of support for the latest protests are a crude attempt to profit from these protests.

But while they may not have had an immediate effect, it is an example of how imperialism will try to intervene in order to prevent any popular movement in Iran moving towards an anti-capitalist and socialist position.

The fact that within the rising workers' movement in Iran the questions of renationalisation and workers' control are starting to be discussed, creates concern for all the ruling classes, particularly those in the Middle East.

Workers' movement

It is against this background that it is necessary to strengthen the independent workers' organisations and to build links between the workers' organisations and the wider layers of unorganised workers, including the unemployed and the poor.

While it appears that the latest protests have come to an end, it is clear that new struggles will break out. This is why it is important to draw a balance sheet of the experiences of struggle and revolution in Iran and internationally.

Socialists argue that such a balance would include demands for the coming period, how the struggle can be organised, and the importance of the workers' movement not being drawn into coalition with capitalist forces.

Such steps, linked to a call to build an independent workers' party and the drawing of socialist conclusions, are the basis not just for success in the inevitable future struggles in Iran but also in laying the basis to achieve the fundamental task of bringing to power a government of genuine representatives of workers and poor.

Such a bold socialist government could sweep away the corrupt capitalist system and begin the socialist reconstruction of the country that would be an inspiration in the Middle East and wider afield.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 27 November 2019:


What we think

Labour's manifesto: fight to transform hope into a socialist society

Tories launch 'non manifesto'


International socialist news and analysis

Regime's fuel price rise sparks massive protests across Iran

Sri Lanka: Presidential election sees return of dictatorial Rajapaksa clan


News

Tory election campaign's dirty tricks and lies

Resist attacks against free speech on campus

Northern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

Prince Andrew outrage exposes establishment


Council cuts

End council cuts now, to end Tory austerity!


Workplace news

Uni strike takes fight to bosses

CWU's right to defend members is on the line

South Western Railway strike: "We're up for the fight"

PCS union ballot closes 12 December: Marion Lloyd for general secretary

Sixth-form college strikes: 'Sticking two fingers up at the Tories'

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Trump and Tories are a threat to environment

Brighton anti-academy campaign steps up

Posties withdraw goodwill from cruel bosses

Help fund the fightback: sponsor my marathon

Selling the Socialist

Buy a historical biography for Christmas


Readers' opinion

The private sector will never provide broadband to every home, nationalisation will

Plymouth Blairites side with anti-tenant landlords

Minimum wage debate


 

Home   |   The Socialist 27 November 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Iran:

triangleStrike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

triangleIran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

triangleRenewed protests shake Iranian leaders

triangleLondon: Protesters return to oppose Middle East war

triangleTrump attacks Iran - London protest: We need workers' action against war and austerity

Workers:

trianglePPE contracts: It pays to have friends in high places

triangleStop the Tories putting profit before health

triangleHeathrow workers to strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

triangleCovid crisis: "We won't pay the price"

Independent:

triangleIndependent Socialist Group interim statement on 2020 US election

triangleFinal push for May Day greetings

triangleMay Day greetings: we need to fund independent workers' media now more than ever

Government:

triangleRace disparity gets worse - fight to improve living standards for all

triangleSystem failing thousands of children in care

International

International

11/11/20

USA

After the polarised elections - what way forward?

4/11/20

US

US presidential election 2020

4/11/20

Chile

Chile: A defeat for the right!

4/11/20

Poland

Poland: Mass protests against abortion ban

28/10/20

Capitalist

Nigeria protests shake regime

28/10/20

Bolivia

Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

28/10/20

Government

"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"

28/10/20

US

US presidential election

14/10/20

Fascists

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

14/10/20

Nigeria

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit

7/10/20

Azerbaijan

'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

7/10/20

Germany

Germany: "Heroes" strike to demand a pay rise

30/9/20

US

Trump's failure over western US wildfires

30/9/20

Police

US: Police escape justice over Breonna Taylor killing

30/9/20

South Africa

South Africa: Working class unity to stop violence against women

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999