Theocratic regime declares war on protesting teachers in Iran

According to the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, at least 230 teachers have been arrested since May 2022.

At least 230 teachers and teacher union activists have been arrested since early May during the peaceful teacher protests nationwide. Additionally, at least 23 teachers have been summoned to appear before security and judicial authorities. In some cases, the security forces have used violence during the arrests of teachers – raiding their homes as well as conducting heavy-handed searches and interrogations. 

During this period, both active and retired teachers have held numerous protests in different cities across Iran. During the protests, many teachers have been beaten up by regime security forces and detained – with many of them subsequently going on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment and harsh treatment.

In late April, intelligence authorities began to summon and threaten prominent teacher union activists in Iran. During Teacher Appreciation Week in May, active and retired teachers and educators held protests in front of the Ministry of Education buildings in different cities across the country. Their demands included the implementation of the “Job Ranking Scheme” as passed by Iran’s parliament, which closes the gap in pensions, provides for free and quality education for students, and limits class sizes to a maximum of 16 students. 

Iran’s intelligence apparatus responded to the widespread protests with harassment, intimidation, and arrests of teacher union activists. According to verified reports by various human rights organisations operating on the ground in Iran, at least 230 teachers have been arrested so far. In two protests in Tehran on 21 April and 12 May, 70 protestors were arrested and taken to detention facilities – most of whom were released after a few hours. However, dozens of teachers remain in detention with growing concerns for their safety and welfare. In Saqqez, Kurdistan province, ten detained teacher union activists went on hunger strike in protest against their detention and poor treatment. 

According to confirmed reports, the regime has ominously started to table the charge of ‘endangering the national security’, one of the most serious charges in Iran (if not the most serious), against leaders of the teacher protests. Currently, at least 6 teacher trade union activists who hold prominent positions in the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (ITTA) and its supra-organisation, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA), are being subjected to torture and inhumane treatment in order to force them to confess that their actions are on behalf of the political opposition to the regime or even on behalf of foreign intelligence agencies. Amongst this number are Rasoul Bodaghi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Mohammad Habibi, Ali Akbar Baghani, Latif Roozikhah, and Mohammad Taghi Fallahi (the General Secretary of the ITTA in Tehran).

CODIR calls on the progressive labour movement and trade unions internationally to protest the treatment of their teacher and educator counterparts to the Iranian authorities in the strongest possible terms through their embassies and missions around the world.

We loudly and resoundingly repeat the slogan of our teacher comrades:

“A teacher’s place is not in the prison cell, but in the classroom!”     

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