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The poor reduced to sheltering in Graves, and the Regime’s Response

In recent weeks the scenes of destitute men, women and children taking shelter from the bitter cold in empty graves has shocked the people of grave-dwellersIran. In December 2016, the daily Shahrvand reported that in the Municipality of Shariar in Western Province of Tehran, the cold of winter has forced around 50 homeless people who usually sleep in cardboard covers, to take shelter in 20 of the 300 graves that have been prepared for burials in the large scale graveyard of Nasir Abad Baghestan. The reporter found 3-4 people occupying each of the graves that are 1.5 meters deep. Some homeless families live in tents in the area around the graveyard or under the viaduct. The homeless shelter here during the night. In the course of the day they leave their meagre belongings in the graves and try to source food or beg in the surrounding area. Their belongings which consist of torn blankets or clothes are prone to being stolen by other grave-dwellers. These graves are a short distance from those that house the dead following daily burials nearby.
According to the cemetery’s keeper, the grave-dwellers first moved in about a month previously. The boundary wall is low enough for them to scale it and although the officials had chased them away, they would keep returning. Many of them were picked up by the police and moved to ‘camps’ (for the homeless) but they escaped and returned to the graveyard. He also thought that: “nearly all of them are drug addicts. There are two women and an 8 year old child. They are also addicts. Opposite the cemetery, 100 meters away, there is also an old woman with two sons and her daughters-in-law and grand-children living in a tent. The old woman and one of her sons are addicts. There are more of them. A bit further along, under the bridge, there are a couple who have come from the provinces. They also live in a tent but they aren’t addicts.”
It is reported that there are charitable people and organizations that bring food to distribute from time to time, but the occupants often avoid them because they are afraid that they will be forced into the municipal ‘camp’.
There has been much outrage at the sight of the citizens of a country that has the wealth and the ability to eradicate this kind of misery living in such conditions. The film director, Asghar Farhadi (winner of the Golden Globe and Academy Award for the film ‘A Separation’) wrote a hard hitting letter to the President of the regime, Hassan Rouhani, inviting him to share his sense of horror and shame.
In his response to the letter, at the meeting of the Specialist Session of the Society for the Monitoring and Inspection of the Whole Country, the president, Hassan Rouhani saw fit to use the opportunity to warn everyone against factionalism and said that the country responded to the situation by the “actions they took on the 29th of December”. The response to which Hassan Rouhani was referring was the revolutionary guards descending on the grave-dwellers, breaking up their belongings and dispersing them or taking them to the municipal camp. In the following days the reporters found the rough sleepers trying to keep warm under cardboards, in the area outside the cemetery.
The Minister for Co-operatives, Labour and Social Welfare waded in, explaining that he had analyzed the condition of a man called Parviz, as an example of the individuals involved. Parviz had become homeless after becoming a drug addict and when his wife and son had refused to have any more to do with him. The Minister concluded that the problem was partly explained in the ease with which the wife managed to get a divorce and in the son having rejected his father. He then continued to ‘contextualize’ the problem by explaining that it was a part of the process of urbanization and modernization! The regime’s ministers show no sense of responsibility for the ills of our society after 37 years of Islamic Republic’s rule.
The leaders of the Islamic Republic continue to benefit from astronomical profits plundering the wealth of the country while a large section of the population is being deprived of any future as it lives in abject poverty and at risk. The tragedy that the regime’s policies have wreaked on our people is partly portrayed in the case of a father who hanged himself from Mir Damaad Bridge in Tehran recently – in his pockets only a note explaining that he could not afford to pay for treatment for his eyes.
MaZanan 01.01.2017

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