Regime Official Claims Iranian People Are “Better off than Europe”
Last week, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the regime’s Secretary-General of the Combatant Clergy Association denied the suffering of the Iranian people, saying,” Today, our people are better off than Europe in terms of welfare.”
“Iran’s poverty is not out of hunger. It is rather a deficiency of welfare and desirable employment because expectations are based on new demands,” Pourmohammadi added.
The shocking statement came during a May 15th meeting with clerical leaders and was intended to counter growing unrest in the country over skyrocketing inflation and widespread poverty. Pourmohammadi’s claims were based on the false premise that Iranians feel poor not because they have been deprived of basic necessities, but because they have unreasonable expectations.
Pourmohammadi, who served as the regime Minister of Interior from 2005 to 2008 and also headed the General Inspectorate Office, is either willfully ignorant of the regime’s own statistics on Iran’s current economic state or he is choosing to ignore them. According to figures from regime officials, 80% of the Iranian population live below the poverty line.
The economic crisis in Iran has caused massive unrest across the country, and the regime has done nothing to address it. Labor activists say that the minimum wage in Iran is half of the line of poverty. For example, in Tehran, the poverty line for a family of four is four million Tomans (currently about 260 USD). The minimum wage is 1.8 million Tomans (about 170 USD), less than half of the poverty line.
A woman, with 2 small children, searching the trash for food scraps
The #Iranian Parliament’s Research Center published a report in which figures for the next 12 months show that between 23 & 40 percent of #Iran ’s population will soon be living under the absolute poverty line. pic.twitter.com/OAhPjXQcXC
— IRAN HRM (@IranHrm) May 19, 2019
Compounding the issue is the fact that many workers do not receive their paychecks for months at a time. Factory workers, teachers, railway workers, construction workers, healthcare workers, and municipal workers have all protested for payment of their overdue wages over the past year. The regime has responded to these strikes and protests with violent suppression, conducting midnight raids of workers’ homes and arresting peaceful protesters.
Faced with no other options, some Iranians have been forced to sell their organs to make ends meet. Others have been driven to suicide. If Pourmohammadi’s definition of “new demands” are the expectations that a job will pay its employees for their work and that the wages from that job will cover basic needs, then he is correct that the Iranian people have expectations that are not being met.
Who is Mostafa Pourmohammadi?
Pourmohammadi’s remarks are best understood in the context of his past actions. In 2013, the cleric was appointed to the position of Minister of Justice. Pourmohammadi said that he hoped “to promote justice” at the Ministry.
Pourmohammadi’s appointment to Minister of Justice was a slap in the face to the family members of thousands of political prisoners who were executed on his orders.
In the summer of 1988, Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, issued a fatwa ordering the executions of all imprisoned MEK members. He formed three-person “death committees” to carry out trials that lasted only minutes. Each committee consisted of an Islamic judge, a Ministry of Intelligence Representative, and a state prosecutor.
Pourmohammadi was the Ministry of Intelligence Representative on Tehran’s death committee. Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri stated that Pourmohammadi was “the representative of the Ministry of Intelligence in charge of questioning prisoners in Evin Prison.”
Montazeri, who later expressed remorse for his role in the massacre, said that Pourmohammadi was a “central figure” in the mass executions of 1988.
Pourmohammadi has expressed no such remorse. In 2016, he said that he was “proud to have carried out God’s commandment concerning the People’s Mojahedin of Iran.”
“I am at peace and have not lost any sleep all these years because I acted in accordance with law and Islam,” he added.
30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK members, were executed during a single summer in 1988. None of the perpetrators have ever faced justice for their roles in the massacre.