Iranian Currency Protests Shake Tehran
Riot police were dispatched to shut down black-market money changing operations near Tehran’s merchant bazaar on October 3. The confrontation sparked violent clashes, while hundreds gathered for an impromptu demonstration to protest the rapid drop in the value of Iran’s currency. Government financial mismanagement and international sanctions have caused the rial to gradually lose its value before experiencing a 40 percent drop off against the dollar in the last week. Protesters accused the government of failing to bolster Iran’s currency. “They spend billions of dollars to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, but now they say they have no money!” said a garment merchant. Abdullah, another textile seller said, “The checks our customers give us bounce, we don’t know what prices will be tomorrow, how can we earn a living?” Several people were arrested, including two Europeans who have not yet been identified.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a statement on October 2 condemning the recent arrest and imprisonment of prominent human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists in Iran. The statement urged “the Government of Iran to promptly release all those who have been arrested for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights.” A spokesman for Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed particular concern for the nine year prison sentence given to Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer and co-founder of the Center for Human Rights Defenders. He was charged with “membership of an association seeking to overthrow the government and propaganda against the system.” Dadkhah is believed to have been transferred to Evin prison, an institution notorious for its incarceration of political prisoners.
During the State Department’s daily press briefing on October 2, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland fielded questions on Iran’s support for the Syrian government. She was pleased that Iraqi authorities had grounded an Iranian overflight for inspection, but could not confirm what was found during the search. However, she noted, “We’re seeing plenty of Iranian involvement in Syria, and all of it is in support of propping up the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad.”