Caspian Region

Carrying Bare Tablecloths, Iranian Pensioners Protest For Third Day

Ardeshir Tayebi
Demonstrators lay empty tablecloths during a protest against low pensions. Image: AzadeMokhtari/Twitter

(RFE.RL) Pensioners and retired government employees, some carrying bare tablecloths as a symbol of how little they have, took to the streets across Iran for a third consecutive day of protests to demand a pension increase.

Protesters on June 8 in the industrial city of Arak, located southwest of Tehran, chanted "our tablecloth is bare" and "Raisi, death to your tricks," a reference to President Ebrahim Raisi, criticizing the government's economic policies despite the president's promises to help families.


In Ahvaz, a city in southwest Iran, retirees took to the streets despite blazing temperatures, chanting in front of the city governor's office: "We can only get our rights in street demonstrations."


The recent round of protests by pensioners and retirees comes after the government announced on June 6 that it would increase the monthly salaries of nonminimum wage retirees by 10 percent, far below a previous pledge for a hike of 38 percent plus 5.15 million Iranian rials ($16).


Legislation to enact the increase was rejected by lawmakers, leading to the lower increase, which pensioners say is too little given that the inflation rate currently stands at more than 45 percent.

Devastated by years of harsh economic sanctions imposed by Washington since the United States pulled out of an accord with global superpowers aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program, many Iranians have launched protests in recent months to decry the government's inability to help their lives.


In addition, Iran’s economy has struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left at least 2 million Iranians jobless and resulted in soaring consumer prices.


Most of the protests have been met with security crackdowns.

The rallies come as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech this week attributed "popular protests" to "enemies" and claimed that everyone in the country was "satisfied" with the government and the system of the Islamic republic.