On Feb. 16, 2019, teachers and educators in several cities in Iran held their fourth round of strike since this Persian year beginning March 20, 2018. According to reports, the event was held in six Iranian provinces.
At the time of writing, protests were being held in Mashhad, Kermanshah, Urmia, Ardabil, Khorramabad, Sanandaj and Marivan, with both working and retired teachers in attendance, as has been the case in the three previous strikes this year.
On Thursday, teachers in several Iranian cities held demonstrations in protest to the Iranian regime’s suppression of activists, poor work conditions and low pay, among other demands.
Teachers and retired educators in Ardebil, Kermanshah, Marivan, Mashhad, Urmia and Sanandaj held rallies in tandem and called on the regime to respond to their demands, which they’ve been reiterating regularly for most of the past year.
According to reports, the Iranian regime had dispatched plainclothes agents and suppressive forces to disperse protesters in various locations.
The top demand of the teachers is the release of their detained colleagues who have been imprisoned by the regime because of their activism and raising their voice for the rights of teachers and other segments of the Iranian society.
In Thursday’s protests, the teachers were holding placards that read, “In a country where teachers are behind bars, we can only weep blood.”
The teachers also demanded the “full-time teacher” plan be repealed as the plan, which was announced last year, will consider teachers as being in the employment of the government during the entire day, even outside teaching hours. While putting strain on teachers, many of whom are already doing other after-job work to make ends meet, the plan bars the way for tens of thousands of people who could become a teacher.
During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980s, the Iranian regime implemented an “honor teaching” plan that forced teachers to teach two hours per week without any pay. The plan was later passed into law. Teachers’ wages are already low to begin with, not even enough to provide the minimum needs of a decent life forcing them to take a second job or do additional work in other areas after they leave the school at the end of the school hours just to meet their livelihood requirement and provide for their family. Now, with the “full-time teacher” plan, regime officials are slowly forcing teachers into full service to essentially avoid hiring more teachers.
But the Iranian teachers are well-organized and very thoughtful. They are insisting that the young generation of Iran must be provided with the right opportunities to help build the future of the country. They have created an environment of national solidarity by persisting on their demands and played a prominent role in the strike and protests that erupted across Iran at the end of 2017.
The protesting teachers other demands include:
* Increase of wages : Iranian teachers make an average $100 per month, which is much less than the regime’s own declared poverty line.
* Respect to teachers’ dignity and position: The regime has regularly cracked down on teachers’ protests instead of listening to their demands.
* Free education: The teachers are demanding free education for the youth of Iran to ensure future generations have the capacity to lead the country.
* Balancing of pension funds and retirement wages: Retired teachers are struggling to provide their livelihoods while the regime had promised to see to their needs. They’re demanding improved pay for retired teachers.
In the past months, teachers have gone on strike on several occasions and their protests have expanded to many provinces of Iran.
Some of these nationwide protests include the following:
♦ In May, Iranian teachers held strikes in 34 cities
♦ In October, a second round of strikes by Iranian teachers, which lasted for two days, expanded to 103 cities
♦ In November, the teachers held another strike, with participants in all Iranian provinces
♦ In December, teachers and students in Hamedan and Kermanshah held demonstrations
♦ Shortly after, teachers in Isfahan and Yazd held protests.
♦ A few days later, teachers in Tabriz held demonstrations in spite of the freezing cold.
All the evidences indicate that the teachers protests are expanding and becoming more frequent and organized. The regime has tried to intimidate the protesters through suppression and violence.
In December, security forces attacked protesting teachers in Isfahan. During Thursday’s protests, the regime had dispatched plainclothes agents to disperse and threaten the teachers. But so far, the regime’s repressive measures have proved fruitless in dissuading teachers from continuing to fight for their rights.
When viewed in the context of other ongoing protests across Iran, the courage and determination of Iranian teachers are fueling and assisting other communities that are protesting for their most basic rights, such as workers, truck drivers, farmers and merchants.
Overall, as the nationwide uprising continue, the people of Iran are developing a spirit of solidarity, and with the help of the organized resistance units, they’re moving even faster toward achieving their ultimate demand which is to topple the dictatorship ruling their country and establish a democratic state.