As the world celebrated Teachers’ Day on October 5, to honor teachers and their work in educating the young generations, Iranian teachers are still struggling with unemployment, lack of wages, and poor living conditions. At a time when the younger generation of Iranians need guidance and education, their teachers are left struggling to make ends meet due to the corrupt nature of the Iranian regime.
Protests have been ongoing for the past few years as the teachers fight against the regime for the support they need, including higher salaries and better living conditions, despite security and judicial crackdowns and severe repression of the demonstrations. Several prominent teachers’ rights activists have been given long prison sentences for taking part in peaceful protests to defend their colleagues’ rights.
Activists believe that, given the poverty line set by independent economists, Iran’s teachers are practically living below the poverty line. Public schools are run with people’s money, and the quality of education there is inadequate.
Due to the poverty faced by these teachers, three teachers, Hassan Chenarani, Gholamabbas Yahyapour, and Amin Kianpour have committed suicide in the past two months.
High School math teacher, Amin Kianpour, aged 43, set himself on fire on June 27 outside the Judiciary building in Isfahan as he protested a court ruling to evict him from his home. Due to the severity of the burns, he later lost his life.
Gholamabbas Yahyapour, also a math teacher, from Fars’s province, hanged himself on September 15 due to the poverty he was living under. He had requested a 50 million toman ($2,000) bank loan but could not afford to pay the deposit of 5 million tomans (less than $200) to receive it. Three days after Yahyapour’s death, the suicide of Hassan Chenarani, a teacher from Neishabour, was reported by the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association.
As the start of the new school year neared, teachers in Iran resumed holding successive nationwide protests throughout September. The teachers’ protests have spread to 40 cities in 20 provinces across the country.
Despite the teachers in Iran protesting to fight for their legitimate rights and demands, the only response from the regime has been to give them false hope that the problems will be resolved, all the while repressing the peaceful demonstrations and arresting activists.
Numerous teacher trade unionists have been subjected to harassment, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, as well as unfair trials and lengthy prison sentences, all at the hands of Iranian authorities. Among the people currently imprisoned for exercising their rights to protest peacefully are Esmail Abdi, Mohammad Hossein Sepehri, Hashem Khastar, Nahid Fath’alian, Nosrat Beheshti, Yaghoub Yazdani, Mohammad Reza Ramezanzadeh, Hossein Hassankhani, Mehdi Fathi, Aziz Ghasemzadeh, and Zeinab Hamrang.
History teacher, Mehdi Fathi is a trade union activist from Fars’s province. Security forces violently arrested him on September 14 and detained him in prison, following years of harassment by the authorities for his involvement in union activities. Despite suffering from a heart condition, he has been denied access to medical treatment and has only been able to briefly contact his family once since his arrest.
In an article on International Teachers’ Day, The State-run daily Arman October 6, pointed to the deplorable conditions of Iran’s Teacher and wrote:
“Contrary to the support emphasized by the UNESCO, Iran’s teachers, this year and despite the coronavirus conditions, are still busy with the old pains of livelihood, dignity, lack of educational and professional justice, deprived of the impact of their professional views on policy-making, etc.
“In addition to the security perspective to their demands and protests of cultural scholars, these problems have increased the gap between a large segment of teachers and those involved.
“An example of this traumatic security view to the annoyance of the culturalists, is the detention of their activists in the past few weeks, including Aziz Qasemzadeh, Gholamreza Gholami in Shiraz, and Yaghoub Yazdani in North Khorasan. Arrests for completely guild protests against the failure to properly implement the ranking bill and their primitive demands.”