Thousands of Iranian teachers protest colleagues' arrest and demand fair wages
The demonstrations reached Tehran and other centres including Ahvaz, Sari, Rasht, Sanandaj and Kermanshah. Security forces intervened, making about a hundred arrests among the activists. Trade unions accused of being 'enemy' entities in the pay of foreign governments to fuel discontent.
Tehran (AsiaNews) - At the forefront of the struggle against the policies of the Iranian government led by President Ebrahim Raisi are the teachers who, once again yesterday, took to the streets in their thousands to express popular discontent, triggering a harsh response from the authorities.
Teachers of all ranks marched in different areas of the Islamic Republic, in the wake of the popular protest that has been filling the streets for some time, demanding "a dignified life" and "the release" of their arrested colleagues who today "languish in state prisons".
The demonstrators marched in the capital, Tehran, and in several major centres including Ahvaz, Sari, Rasht, Sanandaj and Kermanshah, surrounded by massive security measures and under the gaze of policemen in riot gear and plainclothes intelligence agents.
According to trade unions, within hours of the start of the rallies, security forces intervened, arresting up to 100 leading activists nationwide. This included at least 60 in the southern city of Shiraz, in what appears to be a preventive measure to minimise the scale of the demonstrations.
They chanted slogans and chants, including 'we prefer death to humiliation' without sparing criticism - even harsh criticism - of President Raisi for his 'lies' and 'many promises that have fallen on deaf ears'. The demonstrators accused the Iranian leader of dragging the middle class well below the poverty line in less than a year of his presidency.
'Public service employees, workers, teachers and pensioners,' reads a document published at the same time as the protest, 'have all lost the strength to fight against a now unstoppable inflation. And the purchasing power [of wages] is decreasing every day'.
The teachers then recalled the long series of demonstrations in recent months by various sectors of society, plagued by an unsustainable cost of living and linked to 'failed' policies. Also in their sights was the decision to "resort to violent and extreme measures" against those who raise their "cries of protest" or the torture inflicted on imprisoned colleagues to extract confessions.
Iranian state TV recently aired a short documentary in which the teachers' union is described as an enemy entity engaged in sabotage activities and in the pay of foreign intelligence agencies.
The trade unionists instead claim it is 'a smear campaign' to suppress popular discontent. The intelligence apparatus, the note concludes, only promotes the 'espionage' narrative in order to have a pretext for even harsher repression and the subsequent elimination of movements linked to civil society.
Economic crisis, rising prices and cuts in subsidies have turned the nation into a powder keg, which is in danger of exploding or being repressed at the price of deaths and arrests, as happened in 2009 or, 10 years later, in autumn 2019. What is different is the fact that people are no longer willing to tolerate the crisis in order to feed the official propaganda.
This crisis management is bound to present its bill in a political, economic and social framework that is already being described as 'explosive' and in which there are several victims. Triggering the discontent is the decision to cut subsidies for grain and cereals, with increases of up to 300%.
Approximately half of the 85 million inhabitants live below the poverty line, and the reasons put forward by the authorities, which link the rise in prices to the war in Ukraine and the global crisis of goods and transport, are of little use. This is worsened by the ideological choices of a ruling class perceived as corrupt and incompetent, which squanders funds and resources on its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.