Security forces in northern Iran on Saturday used force to disperse teachers who attempted to rally in support of a colleague, according to social media posts.
Teachers in Gilan province had planned a rally Saturday in front of the department of education in Roudsar to show support for colleague Aziz Ghasemzadeh, whose trial began on Saturday.
Ghasemzadeh, spokesman for the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations in Gilan province, was arrested at his home in Roudsar September 26 after organizing teachers' protests calling for higher wages.
He was released on bail after two weeks during which he claimed he had no access to a lawyer or his family. The Coordination Council said security forces prevented Ghasemzadeh's family from accompanying him to court on Saturday, confiscated his brother's mobile phone, and arrested a relative outside the court.
Social media has as yet no videos of these events, possibly due to internet disruption. But in an audio recording released by the Telegram social-media channel of the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, a female teacher claimed she and other teachers had been beaten by security forces, including by female officers, outside the education department.
Four teachers arrested in northern Iran on Saturday, March 12, 2022
She said the police had used profanities and accused the teachers of being involved in a sedition to overthrow the regime.
Other social media users said security forces stationed in front of the education department had dispersed any groups approaching the area. They also said police reportedly blocked roads leading to Roudsar to block supporters from other areas of the province. According to social media reports, at least five teachers were arrested by security forces in Roudsar.
Teachers across Iran have staged several nationwide protests and strikes in the past six months and have vowed to continue protests until authorities meet their demands including fair wages and freedom of other colleagues who have been imprisoned for their trade union activities.
Following protests across Iran in December, the executive board of Education International, the Brussels-based federation of trade unions of teachers and education workers,in a resolution demanded respect for the "rights of teachers and education workers to organize and to freedom of association and freedom of speech including the right to peaceful assembly, without fear of intervention by the authorities" as well as “institutionalizing dialogue” with teachers' representative organizations.
With consumer price inflation at 40 percent in 2021, and food prices rising faster, after four years of United States ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, various Iranian workers have held protest rallies or strikes to demand higher salaries.