Iranian security forces used force against protesting teachers on Sunday in several cities and arrested around a dozen protestors and union activists.
Iranian teachers staged a new round of protests across the country on Sunday, May1, the international Labor Day, organized by the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations.
According to the association's Telegram channel, despite earlier arrest of several leading figures of the teachers’ movement, a large number of teachers tried to gather in front of the parliament at Tehran's Baharestan Square but they were forced by large contingent of security forces to leave the area.
In their rallies Sunday, teachers chanted slogans against Education Minister Yusef Nouri and Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf whose family’s recent shopping trip to Turkey has led to widespread condemnations and demands for his resignation.
Protesters also demanded the release of their imprisoned colleagues. In Arak in central Iran protesters chanted "Teachers are vigilant, they hate discrimination" while in Shiraz, Fars Province, they said "Our enemy is right here, it's a lie to say it's America".
In Bushehr, as seen in videos posted on social media, security forces on Sunday attacked and injured several protesters and arrested at least six. There have also been reports of arrests in Langaroud in northern Iran, Marivan and Saqqez in western provinces of Kordestan and West Azarbaijan, and Tehran.
The association recently said in a statement that the teachers' movement would not be subdued by security and judicial crackdowns on union activists including sentencing them to four to 12 years in prison.
Teachers say they will continue their protests until authorities meet their demands including the implementation of decade-old legislation that would bring the salaries and pensions of 750,000 teachers in line with other civil servants as well as the freedom of their colleagues who have been imprisoned for their trade union activities.
Police raided the homes of several union activists in Tehran and arrested at least four on Saturday. Eskandar Lotfi, spokesman of the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, said Saturday that tens of other teachers from different parts of the country were summoned to court.
Lotfi and two other union members were also arrested early Sunday. Esmail Abdi, a member of the association, went on hunger strike Sunday in protest to the clampdown on union activists.
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.
Four years of deep economic crisis in Iran following the introduction of United States ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions in 2018 has led to sharp increases in living costs and to labor unrest. In January hundreds of firefighters and staff from the judiciary took to the streets in several cities. Prison guards have also picketed to protest their salaries.
People from different walks of life, including teachers, nurses, firefighters, and even staff members of the judiciary department and prison guards, have held regular protest rallies or strikes to demand higher salaries.