Iranian authorities arrested at least two education activists during a nationwide strike on October 14 and 15.
Mohammad Reza Ramezanzadeh, Chair of the Coordination Council for Cultural Organizations and Secretary of the Khorasan Teacher’s Training Center, was arrested following Sunday’s strike by teachers across Iran. He started a hunger strike.
Abdolreza Ghanbari, teacher, writer and literary critic, was arrested on Saturday for joining the nationwide teachers’ strike.
Iranian teachers went on strike October 14 and 15, holding sit-ins at elementary and high schools across the country to protest “unfair wages,” “degradation of education quality,” “inflation,” and “the continuation of the arrest of [teachers rights] activists.”
The two-day strike was called by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Union (CCTU), and was promoted on Twitter with the hashtag “#nationwide teachers’ sit-in.”
Iranian social media has been abuzz yesterday with photos of teachers demonstrating outside their schools or in the hallways and principals’ offices in cities across the country, including Amol, Eslam Abad, Garmeh, Gonabad, Hamadan, Ilam, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Marivan, Mashhad, Sanandaj, Sarvabad, Semirom, Tabriz, Torbat Heidarieh, Yasouj, and Zarin Shahr, as well as the capital, Tehran.
Social-media posts suggested that some teachers had staged solo protests.
Security forces had been threatening activist teachers and members of the coordinating council to dissuade them from going ahead with the nationwide sit-ins and strikes.
The intelligence agents arrested Abbas Vahedian, a teacher and civil activist in Mashhad, northwest Iran, after raiding his home early Thursday morning.
Mohammad Sadegh Shokri, a teacher and education activist in Tabriz, northwest Iran, was also arrested on Saturday morning.
Sources say authorities took such measures to prevent teachers from launching the strike.
Iranian teachers, however, started their nationwide sit-ins and strikes on Sunday, October 14.
The Iranian teachers’ nationwide sit-ins and strikes are in protest to inflation, high prices, dwindling purchasing power of teachers, privatization of education and receiving tuition from students, as well as fraud and embezzlement in the Teachers’ Reserve Fund.
Among other things, teachers are demanding pay raise proportionate to the poverty line, insurance, elimination of discrimination in the educational system, standardization of school, and securing their safety.
One of the most serious demands of the teachers is the release of imprisoned teacher activists, and recognition of independent teachers’ unions.
The information collected up until noon on Monday, October 15, 2018, the nationwide sit-ins and strikes of teachers have spread to the following cities and provinces:
Tehran Province: Tehran, Qarchak in Varamin
Alborz Province: Karaj
Qom Province: Qom
Mazandaran Province: Sari, Amol, Babol
Gilan Province: Langrood, Astara
Golestan Province: Gorgan
North Khorassan Province: Shirvan
Razavi Khorassan Province: Mashhad, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam
Semnan Province: Semnan
West Azerbaijan Province: Urmia, Mahabad, Shahindej
East Azerbaijan Province: Tabriz
Kurdistan Province: Sanandaj, Divandarreh, Saqqez, Marivan, Dehgolan, Qorveh, Zarrineh, Zaveh
Kermanshah Province: Kermanshah, Paveh, Tondgouyan, Kouzaran, Ravansar, Gilan-e Gharb, Javanrood, Mahidasht
Lorestan Province: Khorramabad, Aligoudarz, Pol-e Dokhtar
Kohgilouyeh and Boyerahmad Province: Yasuj
Hamedan Province: Hamedan
Qazvin Province: Qazvin
Zanjan Province: Zanjan, Abhar
Isfahan Province: Isfahan, Shahinshahr, Dolatabad, Samirom, Garmeh
Yazd Province: Yazd
Khuzestan Province: Ahvaz, Gatvand
Fars Province: Shiraz, Kazerun, Firouzabad
Kerman Province: Rafsanjan
Bushehr Province: Bushehr, Borazjan
Sistan-o Baluchistan Province: Iranshahr
Hormuzgan Province: Qeshm
Teachers’ salaries are about one-third of the poverty line. The majority of teachers who work on temporary contracts receive even lower wages which are one-fourth of the poverty line, presently standing at 5 million toumans. Nevertheless, such low wages are paid with months of delay.