PMOI/MEK staff writer
May 12, 2018 – Since Thursday, May 10, many cities across Iran have seen protests by teachers and other education workers. The protesters demand the Iranian regime to respect the most basic rights of teachers, students and the people of Iran.
Already, in less than two days, the protests have spread to more than 30 cities. Teachers have been protesting over the government’s mismanagement causing unemployment, unpaid wages, and inflation. However, this new wave of teachers’ protests is the largest one of its kind Iran has seen in the past year. The protests are taking place despite the regime’s crackdown on demonstrations and assemblies across the country. The teachers of Iran, who will be training and educating the future generations of Iran, are teaching their students a different lesson, and their classroom is the streets.
Where are the protests taking place?
Iranian teachers in all major cities and provinces have joined the protests, including Tehran, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Khorasan, Azerbaijan, Gilan, and others. In Tehran, the teachers gathered in front of the parliament and the premises of the regime’s Planning and Budget Organization.
What makes this significant is that these protests are taking place against the backdrop of protests and demonstrations taking place across Iran, including the merchants and shop owner in the country’s western provinces, farmers in Isfahan, and the clients of government-backed financial institutions across the country.
What are the teachers’ demands?
The underserved teachers of Iran are demanding for what can only be described as the most basic rights that any teacher should benefit from. Some of them include:
- Removing any form of discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities in the education system: The Iranian regime is notoriously renowned for its discrimination against minorities in all domains, including education. This does not bode well with the teachers of Iran, who believe everyone should be given equal opportunity to learn and teach.
- The release of detained teachers and political prisoners: The Iranian regime has detained a number of teachers because of their active role in protests and working to restore the rights of teachers. Among them is Esmail Abdi, a teacher, and activist who has been long persecuted by the regime and is currently in jail.
- Increase in teachers’ wages: Teachers are among the poorest and yet the hardest working classes of Iran’s society. Their wages are below the poverty line. Some have to work on multiple shifts or engage in side occupations to make ends meet.
- Free and quality education for all children: According to the regime’s own media, Iran has millions of child laborers. A healthy, governmentfunded education system would put more children in school. But instead of spending its budget on schools and education, the Iranian prioritizes its expenditures on foreign wars and strengthening its security and repression apparatus.
How has the regime responded?
As with all protests taking place across Iran, the regime has responded by force. In Tehran, the regime’s security forces cracked down on the teachers’ gathering, arresting dozens and injuring many others. But the teachers resisted and continued their protests. Security forces are confiscating mobile phones and other communication devices to prevent teachers from spreading the news of their protests. In Bojnourd, security forces surrounded the protesting teachers to prevent others from taking pictures.
The network of PMOI/MEK have nonetheless been able to acquire many pictures and videos from the teacher protests taking place across Iran.