THE PLATFORM

With more than 80% of Iranians living below the poverty line, they are now facing a 50% increase in the price of food staples like bread. According to some local reports, this has forced some people to even pay for their bread in installments. A few days ago, the main staple of poor people quietly became 50% more expensive, and soon after, the official news of this price increase was announced in the press and media.

Of course, this price increase does not end with just bread, and in recent days, news of a 35% increase in the price of cooking oil, 72% of the price of sugar, 30% of intercity bus tickets, 35% of cab fares, 30% increase in subway tickets and many other basic items of life were published throughout local Iranian publications and websites.

According to the Statistics Center of Iran, the point-to-point inflation rate has now reached more than 48%. This rate is 11 times more than what it is in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cost of rent has reached such a level that according to Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a conservative politician, and the former Mayor of Tehran, 35% of the population of Iran’s cities have been driven to the peripheries due to their inability to pay rent.

The fact is that inflation of basic goods and services is rooted in the widespread corruption of the regime. This corruption has taken place under the supervision of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his son Mojtaba Khamenei, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Their collective capital is estimated to be more than $100 billion. Furthermore, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has taken control of most of the country’s capital in all areas of the economy.

The people of Iran clearly understand that the misery and the absurd level of poverty are caused by the government and its oppressive policies. They have come to this realization that the only solution to any improvement in their lives is a change in government.

To combat the legitimate desire for a change at the top, Khamenei has intensified repressive measures and forced the people to acquiesce to the status quo.

In this quest, of course, some people have become disappointed and are bowing to the pressures of the regime, and instead of standing up for their rights, they either commit suicide or try to get rid of this situation by turning to drugs to dull the pain.

The last of these examples, which are not rare, took place on May 20, in the city of Esfarayen, when a mother first killed her 8-year-old and 2-month-old children and then committed suicide. Another unfortunate event was the self-immolation of a young man on May 16 in Tehran, who first locked himself on a park bench so that could not be saved. He then set himself on fire by pouring gasoline on himself.

All this is due to the poverty and despair that has spread in society. According to some estimates, 8% of the population over the age of 15 in Iran are addicted to drugs.

If Iran is to have a future, endemic corruption will need to be tackled whether by the current regime or another. The point is that Iranians are suffering economically and emotionally and they need to feel that their government cares about their future.

Cyrus Yaqubi is a Research Analyst and Iranian foreign affairs commentator investigating the social issues and the economy of Middle East countries in general and Iran in particular.