Iranian students protest against Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard at the Tehran University in Tehran, January 14, 2020. (EPA-EFE)

January 11, 2021

There were 4,482 recorded Iran protests in 2020 with an average of 373 protests a month, according to sources affiliated with the Iranian Resistance.  

Protests were held despite of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the regime’s brutal crackdown.

Important features of 2020 Iran protests

  • 34 protests were related to the November 2019 nationwide protests.
  • Many protests were an organized effort by the people themselves.
  • Many protests were held for consecutive days.
  • In some cases, protesters travelled to Tehran from other cities to protest in the capital.
  • During January 11 protests in several cities when Iranians took to the streets to express their anger over the IRGC’s shootdown of Ukrainian airliner flight PS752, they directed their chants against the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Posters and billboards of the dead commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani were torn and burned.
    • “Down with dictator!”
    • “Our ignorant leader is our shame!”
    • “Commander in Chief, resign, resign!”
    • “Down with the state and all these years of crime!”
    • “IRGC commits crimes, Khamenei supports them!”
    • “Down with the suppressors, whether it’s Shah or the Leader!”
    • “We will kill those who killed our brother!”
    • “Iranians would die rather than submit!”
    • “1500 were killed in November!” (Reference to the men, women and children killed during nationwide protests in November 2019.)
    • “The incompetent IRGC is killing the people!”
    • “Soleimani is a murderer, and so is his leader!”
  • Despite having grown up under the direct influence of the regime’s propaganda, Iran’s newer generations and university students joined the protests.
  • Women played an important role and led the protests in some instances.

Protests by sector

Prisoners

In March 2020, prisoners in 12 prisons across Iran protested and broke out of prison to demand temporary or permanent release due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in prisons. This was the first time in the 41-year rule of the regime that so many prisoners broke out in protest, and many succeeded in escaping. Others were brutally shot, killed or injured.

Another video of Saqqez Prison inmates fleeing the prison in W #Iran.
Reports indicate that at least 80 prisoners fled the prison in fear of getting infected with #COVID19https://t.co/B4bS6aZ2My pic.twitter.com/DV6P6jYPo2— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) March 28, 2020

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network said a prison riot in the Central Prison of Tabriz, NW #Iran led to the injury of at least 7 prisoners. They were protesting not being given leaves despite the danger of #COVID19 infections in prison.
Sound of gunshots can be heard in video. pic.twitter.com/iBJ7UuQtMo— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) March 26, 2020

Protests took place in the Great Tehran Penitentiary also known as Fashafuyeh, as well as in the Khorramabad Parsiloon Prison and Aligudarz Prison in western Iran, the Tabriz Central Prison, Saqqez Central Prison, Urmia Central Prison, Alvand Prison and Mahabad Prison in northwestern Iran. Other prisons included Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison, Pir-bano’ Prison in Fars Province, Ahvaz’s Sepidar Prison and Sheiban Prison in southwestern Iran and Yazd Central Prison in central Iran.

Workers

Workers held a total of 1,618 protests in 2020. The salary of workers in Iran, if paid on time, is below the poverty line. Most workers have a family and are the breadwinners of their household. They suffer from months to years of unpaid wages and being exposed to the COVID-19 virus to earn their meager pay.

In 2020, workers protested months of delayed paychecks, not receiving insurance, lack of necessary equipment, poor sanitation and lack of health and safety equipment, lack of job security, widespread layoffs, the privatization of factories and companies, and their other economic grievances.

Worker sectors:

Oil and gas

In August, oil and gas workers protested in an organized effort in several cities to delayed wages and harsh work conditions. The widespread protests took place in 24 cities and 12 provinces. The oil and gas workers protests amounted to a total of 1302 protests.

Asaluyeh, South Pars Power Station, S #Iran
Workers at the South Pars Power Station joined the strike action by oil and gas workers across Iran. They want higher wages. This is the 2nd day of their strike. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/Vv8UrGfV7h— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 4, 2020

Aug. 20- Ilam, W #Iran
Workers of the NJL 3100 project who work for Iran General Contractors (IGC) went on strike today in Dasht-e Abbas to demand higher wages. Thousands of petrochemical workers on currently on strike in Iran for higher wages. #IranProtests #اعتصابات_سراسری‌ pic.twitter.com/X1RfERqGPx— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 20, 2020

Report: Workers of the Ilam Gas Refinery (IGTC) in W #Iran and the Ilam Petrochemical Co. joined Iran’s #GeneralStrike in the oil and gas sector today. Reports indicate that the company has fired 50 workers. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/eJN9YSSdur— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 15, 2020

Railway and mining companies

Railway and mine workers gathered to protest to delayed wages and insecure work conditions.

According to local reports, around 300 workers of the Chadormalu iron ore mine, in the central province of Yazd, #Iran were fired today for protesting to prevent the lay offs of around 20 workers. The regime does not recognize the most peaceful of #IranProtestshttps://t.co/WSHlCKeddv pic.twitter.com/EZwjMfSu1b— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 27, 2020

3,500 workers of the Kerman Coal Mining Company (SE #Iran) took strike action today to demand a raise in wages, their outstanding bonuses, and the implementation of the Classification of Occupations Plan at the company. #IranProtests
(Image from file) pic.twitter.com/sKNqloo3xP— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 4, 2020

Sugarcane factories

Workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Complex in southwestern Iran gathered in protest for 30 consecutive days in July.

Jul25- Shush, SW #Iran
Day 41 of strike action/#IranProtests by workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company. They want their unpaid wages/return of workers expelled for protesting/end to the company’s privatization. @labourstart@IndustriALL_GU@IUFglobal pic.twitter.com/sPmnKPYVnD— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) July 25, 2020

Cement factories

Report: The managers of the Lamerd Cement Factory in SW #Iran sacked workers who had protested and demanded their unpaid wages. The workers have at least 3 months of unpaid wages. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/LdPeA5WUrg— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 22, 2020

Steel factories

May 16- Isfahan, central #Iran
Around 350 retired workers of the Isfahan Steel Company rallied today outside the Isfahan Governor’s Office to express their economic grievances. The pensioners gathered from various cities in Isfahan province. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/lq2l17NXKM— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 16, 2020

Dam and water supply

Dec. 14- Shadegan, SW #Iran
Workers of the Water and Waste Water Department gathered outside the department to demand their unpaid wages.
One of the protesters said the workers had not received at least 6 months of their wages. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/KCA4C6cKg7— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) December 14, 2020

Heavy machinery

HEPCO Heavy machinery factory workers in Arak, central Iran gathered for 20 consecutive days.

Aug12- Arak, central #Iran
HEPCO Heavy machinery factory workers gathered for the 10th day to demand job security, unpaid wages & protest the halting of production at what was once the Middles East’s largest heavy machinery production company. #IranProtests #اعتصابات_سراسری pic.twitter.com/7k11W81rNy— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 12, 2020

Vehicle production

#IranProtests Feb 4- Tehran
According to the protesters, the state-run vehicle manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles by as much as 50 percent. The protesters were chanting slogans against the managers of the company and were calling for judicial actions against them. pic.twitter.com/5m8c6eMc4I— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) February 4, 2019

Infrastructure

Municipality workers gathered in several cities to protest their delayed wages and work benefits. They gathered in 69 cities.

May 21 – Sahin Shahr, central #Iran
Municipal workers gathered outside the Municipality for the 2nd consecutive day to demand higher wages.

– According to a regime affiliated labor official, workers’ paychecks only cover 11 days of their expenses each month. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/YAbRlH4SKF— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 21, 2020

May 18, Arvandkenar, SW #Iran
A group of municipal workers gathered today outside the Arvankenar Municipality to demand their unpaid wages.
Their signs read, “We are hungry and ashamed of our families” and “We don’t have money for bread”. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/eRMyB2LsMX— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 18, 2020

Sep. 16 – Lali County SW #Iran
Lali municipal workers gathered today to demand their unpaid wages.
One of the workers said they would gather outside the Lali Municipality until they got their wages. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/rgBSLJkyeu— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) September 16, 2020


Teachers

Teachers held 117 protests in 2020. They protested their low wages, which sits below the poverty line. Teachers have applied for second jobs to make ends meet. They also protested their employment conditions, lack of job security, and their other economic grievances. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were under more pressure and had to teach online and work more hours, without getting paid for months.

Jun 23 – Tehran #Iran
Contract teachers gathered today outside the Parliament in the capital to demand job security. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/Al06Nf33tQ— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) June 23, 2020

Tehran, #Iran
Teachers who work abroad gathered today outside the Ministry of Education to express their economic woes. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/k65hFzNCyI— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) October 3, 2020

Pensioners

Pensioners gathered 113 times to express their economic grievances in 2020. Most pensioners suffer from various illnesses due to old age which was further aggravated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Pensioners gathered in an organized effort to protest unpaid pensions and demand higher wages. They say their current pensions put them under the line of poverty.    

Aug15- Mashhad, NE #Iran
Pensioners gathered today to demand their unpaid pensions. #IranProtests
Iran’s President Rouhani said recently that the regime had not delayed the wages of workers and pensioners “for even a day”. pic.twitter.com/LFJYjLdIt7— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 15, 2020

May 16- Isfahan, central #Iran
Around 350 retired workers of the Isfahan Steel Company rallied today outside the Isfahan Governor’s Office to express their economic grievances. The pensioners gathered from various cities in Isfahan province. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/lq2l17NXKM— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 16, 2020

Nov. 18 – Tehran, #Iran
Social security pensioners gathered outside the parliament to demand higher pensions. They say their current min wage pension is illegal/they should be getting higher pensions according to article 96 of the Social Security code. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/kM7KzvkRgV— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) November 18, 2020

University students

In 2020, students staged 97 protests in Iran. University student played a major role in January 11 protests against the downing of a Ukrainian airliner, which led to the death of all 176 passengers and crew. A Shiraz University student was sentenced to eight years in prison and 74 lashes for participating in the memorial ceremony of the victims of the Ukrainian airliner.

At the start of the pandemic, students also protested to demand the termination of their in person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Students at Tehran’s Sharif Uni. chant against the #Iran regime’s state-run TV for deceiving the public for the past 3 days saying that flight #PS572 crashed due to “technical reasons”. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/UJZM19XmnS— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 11, 2020

Feb 16 Amir Kabir University, Tehran #Iran
Video shows the regime’s agents attacking the students’ peaceful gathering to mark the 40th day of the #PS752 shootdown. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/zfb3bLN6g1— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) February 16, 2020

Reports on social media platforms indicate that large numbers of Basij forces have been deployed to quell student #IranProtests in Tehran. (Video from the internet shows Basij forces attacking students at Amir Kabir University.) Voice on video calls the attacks “very violent”. pic.twitter.com/HNUBVZroOc— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 14, 2020

Defrauded creditors

Defrauded creditors gathered 56 times to express their economic woes in 2020. They protested not receiving their savings that were stolen by banks and state-run financial institutions.

Tehran, #Iran
Defrauded creditors gathered today outside the Central Bank of Iran to demand their stolen savings. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/yakw1T7yMa— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) June 14, 2020

Defrauded creditors of #Iran‘s Central Bank Currency Exchange System (Nima) gathered outside the Central Bank to demand their money.
Sign says: 4000bln tomans of capital from 400 companies have been stolen by Nima. The Central Bank has to be held accountable.” #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/H501Rv0yUc— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) September 27, 2020

Farmers

Farmers staged 50 protests in 2020. They demanded water for irrigation that has been diverted by state-run companies for industrial use, protested the claiming of their lands by the Endowment Organization, and the regime’s neglect of Iranian farmers. They also protested the low prices of their products, the state not buying their products, not receiving flood concessions, the diversion of Zayandeh Rud River in the central province of Isfahan, and other economic problems.

Kerman, SE #Iran
Farmers gathered to protest the low price of their produce in the market including tomatoes and onions demanding that the gov. interfere. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/lkIyl1UeIQ— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 2, 2020

Dezful, Khuzestan Province, SW #Iran
The #Iranian regime used tear gas against protesting farmers today in SW #Iran. Local reports indicate that regime elites are obtaining the needed licenses to build factories on the fertile lands. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/WsvOTOwJtd— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) January 30, 2020

Hoveyzeh, SW #Iran
Farmers protested the intentional diversion of water away from their fields by the regime today. They say they haven’t had any water for the past month which has left their fields completely dry. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/4F3tDYBfzC— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) July 10, 2020

Apr. 25- Isfahan, central #Iran
Isfahan farmer protesting the excessive use of water in Zayandehrud River by regime run industries:
“Enough is enough! Help the people! Are you deaf Rouhani?! Give us our rights!”#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/P0dWpx8ioL— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) April 25, 2020

Livestock Farmers

Livestock farmers held 22 protests in 2020. They protested the low price of milk and high expenses, as well as limitation in their livestock grazing regions, and their other economic grievances include harsh working conditions, and the increased price of fodder.

Oct. 19- Tehran, #Iran
Livestock farmers gathered outside the Judiciary to protest the lack of feed and other problems/They say they’re going bankrupt because of the regime’s mismanagement/regime imports meat from Brazil and does not support them. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/P8mierKXh4— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) October 19, 2020

Aug. 9- Behbahan SW #Iran
Livestock farmers gathered today in protest to the high price of fodder and the low price of milk. They say that have lost their livestock and are near bankruptcy. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/nGlneTq9dK— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 9, 2020

Bazaar merchants and shop owners

Iran’s bazaar merchants and shop owners held 26 gatherings in 2020. They gathered to protest the killing of border porters or ‘kolbars’ by the IRGC forces in western Iran, the shutdown of malls, the lack of implementation of the COVID-19 protocols for the protection of unions, the closure of the bazaar due to COVID-19 and lack of financial support from the government, dire livelihood conditions, high parking prices, the lack of customs clearance for their goods, fluctuations in the market and the government’s incompetence in managing prices.

Jul26- Qeshm Island, S #Iran
Vendors marched on the streets today to demand that their goods in customs be released. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/Ll2CTLGlfR— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) July 26, 2020

Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers, who were at the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, staged many protests in 2020 to express their economic grievance over unpaid wages, increase in work hours without pay, and lack of job security.

Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers protested in over 10 cities.  

Mahshahr, SW #Iran
Healthcare workers gathered today outside the Petrochemical Industries Hospital to demand their unpaid wages. #IranProtests

– The regime steals the hard-earned money of Iranians to pay Hezbollah and its warmongering proxies. pic.twitter.com/sDUVJGNi7d— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 11, 2020

Shiraz, SW #Iran
Nurses and employees of the Ibn Sina Hospital gathered outside the Shiraz Medical Sciences Universtiy to demand their unpaid wages.
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the fight against #COVID19 yet their wages are not paid. pic.twitter.com/COtE9O2vDE— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) September 23, 2020

Families of political prisoners and fallen victims of the regime

Families of political prisoners and that of death row prisoners, Ukrainian airliner victims, detained protesters, and other victims of the regime, including those killed in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, gathered in over 10 protests in 2020.   

Mar. 31 – Ahvaz, SW #Iran
Concerned families of inmates at Sepidar Prison gathered outside the prison after they heard inmates were killed during a riot at the prison last night. The cries of a distraught woman can be heard in the video. pic.twitter.com/RNtj47MiCM— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) March 31, 2020

Apr. 1 – Ahvaz, SW #Iran
Distraught families of Sheiban Prison inmates gathered near the prison to get information on the fate of their loved ones after a prison riot broke out last night. Reports indicate that a number of prisoners were shot. pic.twitter.com/B8usmWIhFy— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) April 1, 2020

Death of iconic singer and composer

In October 2020, thousands of Iranians gathered outside Tehran’s Jam Hospital to commemorate the legendary Iranian singer and composer, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian who passed away from kidney cancer. The iconic vocalist master of Persian traditional music was known for publicly speaking out against the regime’s brutal suppression of the 2009 nationwide protests and for his anti-regime rhetoric.

Large crowds gathered and chanted “death to the dictator” echoing Shajarian’s own chant during the 2009 protests. 

Following the death of Mohammad-Reza Shajarian iconic vocalist master of Persian traditional music, #Iranians gathered outside Tehran’s Jam Hospital, where he passed away to pay their respects. He was 80 years old. pic.twitter.com/csXAMu4DeA— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) October 8, 2020

Other protests

There were 861 other protests in 2020. Iranians showed their protest to the regime’s parliamentary elections by boycotting the vote. Other gatherings include protest to the demolition of homes by municipal agents and the police, and protests to the regime’s mismanagement.

In late May, Kermanshah locals gathered to protest the killing of a mother of seven, Asieh Panahi, during the demolition of her home.  

This is the picture of 55-year-old Asieh Panahi, beaten to death by #Iran‘s municipal agents for protesting the demolition of her home in Kermanshah, W Iran. She was the mother of seven children. https://t.co/rJHoB8JUl6 pic.twitter.com/vTnlqtDtHm— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) May 26, 2020

In Hazrat-e Abolfazl village near Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, villagers protested the demolition of their homes, and were attacked by security forces who fired pellet guns and tear gas at them. There were other protests to demolition of locals’ homes, such as in Bushehr, southern Iran.

Ahvaz, SW #Iran
Locals in Hazrat-e Abolfazl Village throw rocks at security forces who have come to demolish their homes on orders of Khamanei’s “charity” foundation. Security forces attacked locals with pellet guns and teargas. https://t.co/QicLTuxKvw pic.twitter.com/IKhj2wd8UT— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) August 27, 2020

Bandar Abbas, S #Iran
Security forces demolish the small home of a single mother amid the heartwrenching pleas of her daughter.
“Please don’t!” she cries out to deaf ears.
According to an unconfirmed report, the mother committed suicide after her shack was destroyed. pic.twitter.com/l0wwlbSd7d— Iran News Wire (@IranNW) November 19, 2020

INW

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.