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Beating up a Street Vendor Shocks Tehran

Image capture from Iran purportedly showing a street vendor being beaten by municipality agents

Following the circulation of a video clip showing a street vendor being battered by the municipality staff in the capital city of Iran, a member of Tehran City Council has reported that the two employees who were involved in the incident have been suspended and soon will be summoned to court.

In an interview with state-run Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA, the deputy of Tehran City Council’s Supervision Department, Afshin Habibzadeh cited municipality officials as saying “The culprits have been suspended and their case delivered to the Disciplinary Department. Furthermore, they will be tried as soon as the legal charges against them are filed”.

The culprits have been suspended and their case delivered to the Disciplinary Department.
Tehran City Council Official

Habibzadeh also reported that Tehran City Council’s members are going to have a joint session with the Mayor to discuss the roots of such cases.

Meanwhile, Habibzadeh maintained that agents assigned to confront street and sidewalk vendors, who block public passages, are not counted as Tehran municipality’s staff, since they are directly employed by the contractors.

A video clip widely circulated in social media shows a municipality’s officer beating up a street vendor in Vali Asr crossroads, while another officer takes the vendor’s hand, violently throwing him away.

Furthermore, the video shows the two officers accompanied by a policeman detain the vendor and later continue to batter him.

The circulation of videos depicting the aggressive and heavy-handed confrontation of municipality staff with sidewalk and street vendors in social media have repeatedly shocked the public in recent years.

On Saturday, August 12, a street vendor died in a suspicious situation in city of Qom after the municipality staff violently tried to stop his business. Immediately after the incident was widely reported in social media, the Prosecutor-general summoned five employees of the municipality who were said to be involved in the case.

Ali Cheraghi, a street vendor in Tehran also died in hospital in summer of 2014 after being battered by a garbage recycling contractor’s staff who were armed with brass knuckles.

Later that year, a street vendor from city of Khorramshahr, Youniss Assakereh died in a hospital in Tehran after setting himself afire, protesting against the municipality’s staff who had accused him of blocking a public passageway and destroyed his fruit stand.

Meanwhile, there are many street vendors who maintain that city law enforcement officers are more interested in receiving “protection money” than clearing up the sidewalks and streets.

After more than a decade, a reformist is currently at the helm of Tehran municipality, while the city council is also run by the reformists supporting President Hassan Rouhani.