By Israeli Girl
Things in Iran have been difficult enough. But as sanctions bite, the regime is now forced to raise prices on basic staples. As the regime is well aware, the most potent challenge to Iran’s ruling system may be as simple as a shopping list.
Iranians – both rich and poor – have long benefited from blanket subsidies on natural gas, electricity, petrol, water and many staple foods. As sanctions target Iran’s limited refining capabilities, Iran was recently forced to import refined fuel, despite owning one of the world’s biggest oil reserves. As a result most drivers expect a rise of 400% in gasoline prices creating immense pressure at petrol stations across the country.
In the food department, bread prices are up more than fivefold, cooking oil more than double, cuts of lamb about triple from last year.
Price supports have long buoyed Iranians, with average households receiving $4,000 worth of fuel and electricity payments a year. Taking these benefits away can shake up the regime’s stronghold significantly.
Although the government promised payout to low income families to soften the impact of higher prices, Ahmadinejad threatens that any problems will be the fault of criminals and “economic seditionists” – the government’s opponents at home and abroad who want to bring him down.
In anticipation of unrest and protests, the Iranian regime has cranked up the pressure on human rights activists, political activists, students and leaders of the Green Movement.
This week, the Iranian regime arrested a large number of students and journalists, blocked websites (including the website of former president Mohammad Khatami, one of the leaders of the Green Movement), attempted to prevent meetings between the heads of the Green Movement and increased security measures in the streets of Tehran and other cities in preparation for the planned government subsidy reforms.
Giyus.org have learned increased measures have been taken against lawyers, specifically those representing political and human rights activists, student activists, foreign nationals detained in Iran, and juveniles sentenced to death.
The sad case of Nasrin Sotoudeh is a good example – the human rights lawyer was arrested on Sep. 4th. Sotoudeh, who was the attorney for Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, represents human rights activists and juveniles facing the death penalty. Since her arrest, Sotoudeh has been held in solitary confinement and for some time has not been allowed family visits.
She faces charges of “acting against national security” and “congregation and collusion with intent to disrupt national security.”
The systematic actions of the Iranian regime against lawyers are in flagrant violation of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which state that lawyers should be allowed to practice “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and should be accorded freedom of speech.
So as the regime goes ahead with its economic plan the Iranian people will pay the price for the atrocities of the Ayatollahs or as Ahmadinejad recently warned:
“You have only one option: That’s recognizing the right and greatness of the Iranian nation,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television. “Should you choose this path, nations may forgive you … but if you want to continue the previous path of arrogance … these people (the Iranian nation) will pursue you until you end up in hell.”
Let’s hope the people in Iran will find the strength to take back their country.