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Iranian press review: Shah's infamous Savak deputy chief participates in LA protest

Meanwhile, people with disabilities protest aid cuts, fake news raises the price of old sewing machines, and quality of life deteriorates
Demonstrators in Los Angeles, California, protest the death of Mahsa Amini who died in the custody of Iran's morality police, 1 October 2022 (AFP)
By MEE correspondent in Tehran

Top Savak official slammed for appearing at protest

Parviz Sabeti, the former, powerful deputy chief of Savak, the late Shah Pahlavi's secret police, appeared in public for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution on Saturday during a demonstration against the Iranian government in Los Angeles.

Sabeti's daughter, Pardis, posted his photo on Twitter, with the caption: "44 years ago today, our native country fell into darkness. Hoping this year brings light and solidarity."

Sabeti's presence in a pro-democracy protest sparked anger among Iranians who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms or lost family members during the reign of the Shah.

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Mahdieh Golrou, a well-known activist, wrote on Twitter: "Torture is a crime, no matter if the perpetrator is Sabeti, Khalkhali, or Lajevardi."

This was in reference to Sadegh Khalkhali and Asadollah Lajevardi, two notorious post-revolution officials responsible for the death of many political prisoners.

Abdol Javad Mousavi, a columnist at the Ham Mihan daily, also criticised Sabeti's participation in a demonstration supporting the 2022 anti-government movement in Iran.

"The person who causes wounds on others might forget whom he had wounded due to repeating that crime many times. But those who have been wounded would never forget who had injured them and why," Mousavi wrote.

Following the incident, Ladan Boroumand, a co-founder of Abdorrahman Boroumand human rights centre, demanded the trial of all perpetrators of torture in Iran.

"Instead of politicising the debate, I believe victims of torture at the hands of a person from an ancient regime should file suit against that person," said Boroumand.

For 20 years, Sabeti was one of the leading commanders of the Iranian monarchy's brutal security service, responsible for the forced disappearance of dissidents, the torture of student and political activists, and the extra-judicial execution of leftists.

However, in his memoir, Sabeti claimed that those arrested or killed by Savak were "terrorists".

People with disabilities protest budget cuts

A group of Iranians with disabilities organised a sit-in in front of the Plan and Budget Organisation in protest against cuts in next year's budget bill.

The ILNA news agency protesters held placards reading "where is our budget?" and "disablist organisation, give us our budget" at the protest on Monday.

The Plan and Budget Organisation is one of the primary governmental entities responsible for drafting Iran's annual budgets. 

ILNA also reported that with less than a month until the Iranian new year, the government had not yet paid 49 percent of the budget allocated to organisations providing aid and support to people with disabilities.

"Due to high inflation and little support, we are in a horrifying situation, and as we have very few work options, our only hope is to receive government aid," the news agency quoted one of the protesters as saying.

In a budget bill passed by parliament on 22 January, President Ebrahim Raisi's administration increased the budgets of police and security forces, and proposed cuts in the health and public sectors.

According to a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch, people with various disabilities are subject to discrimination and are cut off from society because of inaccessible public buildings and services.

The report estimated that approximately 12 million people have some disability in Iran.

Old sewing machines sell at sensational prices

A rumour about precious metals found in manual sewing machines has led to a wave of online advertisements by second-hand shops, with prices going as high as 30 billion Iranian rials (about $7,000 on the open market) for the old machines.

The Shahrvand daily reported that these sewing machines were trading for about 1 million rials a few months ago. Still, the rumours spreading about the use of red mercury in manufacturing machines caused a sharp increase in prices.

In an interview with Mitra Chizari, an Iranian chemist, the newspaper debunked the claims about finding valuable metals in old sewing machines.

"In nature, no such a thing as red mercury exists. This is an old myth, and some have claimed that this metal was found in the mouths of mummies," Chizari said.

The daily added that this is not the first time rumours have caused an increase in the prices of old sewing machines in the country.

Previously, rumours circulated that diamonds were used to produce sewing machines.

Decline in quality of life continues 

The Etemad daily reported that inflation has gravely contributed to a decline in the quality of life in Iran amid one of the worst economic crises the country has faced since the 1979 revolution.

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According to the daily, services inflation reached 57 percent in 2022, the highest in the past decade.

The report said the prices for services related to repairing automobiles and motorcycles saw a 78 percent increase last year compared to 2021.

The costs of healthcare services have meanwhile seen a 74 percent jump.

In the past year, education has also become more expensive, with the inflation rate for the sector reaching 35 percent.

The newspaper added that the rise in inflation increased after a series of economic decisions taken by Raisi's administration to eliminate subsidies for flour in May 2022. 

The government's measures, dubbed 'economic surgery', had led to an immediate increase in food prices, followed by rising costs in all sectors.

*Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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