In Iran, a nationwide teacher strike adds to growing protests against regime
In Iran, as I have reported here, here, here, and here, the economic crisis gripping the country is drawing increasingly diverse economic sectors into a growing maelstrom of resistance.
We already know that social unrest and protests among the country's truck-drivers and merchants have been held in the last few weeks.
Today, following calls for a nationwide strike on Oct. 14 (which was widely circulated on social media), large numbers of teachers joined the movement in more than 100 education centers in 60 major cities such as Tehran, Karaj, Esfahan, Yazd, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Mashhad, Ilam, Gonabad, and Tabriz, throughout Iran's 21 provinces, according to the report by PMOI/MEK, which is the leading force for democracy in the country.
The PMOI/MEK called a nationwide strike on Sunday, drawing in teachers, to protest their poor living conditions, their problems with jobs, and the heavy security measures imposed in their schools. Students in various cities announced their support for their teachers on this initiative.
Since anti-government demonstrations erupted throughout Iran in December, strikes have become a popular way for citizens of different walks of life and social classes to protest the corruption and inefficiency of the Iranian regime.
Teacher demands include signs and slogans such as "Detained teachers must be freed," "NO to prison for teachers," "Teachers’ future must be secured," "Proper jobs and security," "Teachers must rise to end the discrimination and a low monthly salary," and teachers must "have their own independent syndicates and associations."
The mullahs, predictably, reacted badly. They sent out their special plainclothes agents from Iran's detested secret service and ordered them to surround the protesting teachers in some cities. However, the protesters ignored the pressure and continued.
In social media, the teachers advanced and extended their activities through hashtags such as #Iranstrikes; #TeachersStrike; and #تحصن_سراسری_معلمان #اعتصاب_سراسری, which has been supported widely.
This is the second time that Iranian teachers are going on strike. Earlier this year, teachers across the country took to the streets to protest discrimination, imprisonment of political activists, and economic woes. This round of strikes by teachers is happening parallel to a widespread strike by truck-drivers across the country, which has lasted for more than three weeks and has expanded to more than 300 cities across the country. Last week, a separate strike by merchants and shop-owners reached dozens of cities.
In another event on Oct. 14, Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, went to Tehran University to make speech. While he was there, outside the auditorium, students expressed their anger by chanting against him. They also protested inflation and high prices. Only student "Basij" forces, which are known regime collaborators, were allowed inside the auditorium.
With Iran's protests increasing, the question now is, to what extent can Iran's regime tolerate such pressure?
We are all witnessing that time is running out for the regime of Iran, and the recent uprisings of Iranian people are showing now how close the regime is to collapse.
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East.