The retired teachers were heard chanting – declaring that they would not give up until they receive the bonuses they are due. They were also chanting slogans about never accepting abjection.
Active and retired teachers across the country have been demonstrating over the past year as they are some of the lowest paid government employees. However, their demands for better pay have been systematically ignored by the Iranian government.
Instead of responding to the requests of the teachers, the Iranian regime has instead been arresting and imprisoning them. A number of activist teachers are in prison after being handed long prison terms.
Mohammad Javad Abtahi who is a member of the Commission for Education and Research has announced that the caretaker of the Ministry of Education promises to take action. He said that the Ministry of Education caretaker will, by the end of the summer, make adjustment payments. Whether this happens remains to be seen, but many are sceptical.
National Teachers Day is celebrated on 2nd May every year and there have traditionally been protests held across the country on this day. Teachers have been underpaid, neglected and denied rights for many years under the regime’s leadership and many have been calling on the regime to change the situation.
On 2nd May this year, thousands of teachers gathered in front of the offices of the Education Department in more than a dozen provinces. They were trying to bring attention to their demands, but dozens were arrested and sent to jail.
The Teachers’ Coordinating Council of Iran (TCCI) said during the demonstrations that the teachers of Iran should not have to live under the poverty line and that retired teachers deserve more than just a very minimal pension. The organisation also drew attention to the regime’s attempts to stop teachers from launching a united and independent trade union though the use of security forces.
Esmaeil Abdi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), has been arrested and imprisoned several times. He was charged with “assembling and colluding against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. In April this year, he stated a hunger strike that lasted 23 days in order to protest the neglect of teachers’ and workers’ rights in Iran.
He is just one of dozens of Iranians who have been imprisoned for standing up for teachers’ rights.
The Iranian regime is becoming increasingly isolated on the international level because of the pressure from abroad. It is having to curb some of its activities because of the economic sanctions that it is bound to and it is lashing out on the people of Iran. It is trying to regain control by cracking down on dissent.