Taxi Drivers Strike to Protest Low Fares in Babol
Hundreds of taxi drivers in the Northern city of Babol went on strike yesterday, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran learned today. The strike began at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Babol Governor’s Office, and lasted four hours. Security and intelligence forces tried to disperse the crowd of striking cab drivers, but they were unable to prevent the strike. According to the Iranian Constitution, individuals can gather peacefully to demand their trade rights. Several drivers and members of the Taxi Drivers’ Union were summoned to the Police Intelligence Unit, and questioned by police security and intelligence officers, as well as authorities from the Babol Intelligence Office.
An informed source told the Campaign that at the time of the strike, reporters with government agencies were not allowed to be present. Cameras belonging to reporters with Tabarestan Provincial Network, a government television station, were confiscated.
Four hours into the strike, officials from the Governor’s Office promised to increase the taxi fares by 12 February. At the end of the strike, the taxi drivers issued a statement expressing that unless their problem with the low cab fare is not addressed, they would resume their strike on Saturday, 12 February. A notable aspect of the strike was that in addition to their trade demands, many drivers talked about the suppressed public demands of recent months. After an entanglement with a police commander, one of the striking drivers told him, “You suppressed people to the point where Iran will eventually become like Egypt.”
During the strike, stranded taxi passengers waited inside taxi stations. The Babol Municipality finally dispatched several buses to transport the passengers all over the city, which instead of helping caused traffic jams that were met with public objection.