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Rouhani's Education Minister Protests Deploying Militia At Schools

Members of Baseej militia throw stones during post-election protests in Tehran, June, 2009

President Hassan Rouhani’s Minister of Education, Mohammad Bat’hai, has ruled out the idea of Baseej militia forces intervening in schools.

Bat’hai twitted his protest to comments recently made by the chief-commander of Baseej, a paramilitary force affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

On Thursday, January 11, Baseej commander, Brigadier General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar announced, that a plan designed to deploy Baseej forces at schools would be implemented next September.

“Please, do not disturb people’s minds with unfounded excuses! Executing any plan by any entity at the schools needs the Ministry’s license and coordination,” Bat’hai twitted in protest.

Based on the new plan, two or three members of Baseej forces from neighborhood mosques will be assigned to assist parents and teachers in training the school children, General Gheybparvar elaborated.

The plan will initially cover one million school children and take seven years to be fully accomplished, the commander maintained.

“Our schools should be centers for ethical training rather than teaching [science]”, General Gheybparvar noted, adding, “A trained and intelligent nation is immune against infiltration by enemies,” the commander remarked.

Loosely formed IRGC-linked militia units, have been inspecting people and vehicles, and arresting those suspected of “anti-revolutionary” behavior such as violating the strict dress code imposed on Iranian women by hardline clerics, after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Their presence gradually became less visible until 2009, when they played a key role in heavy-handed suppression of political unrest that overwhelmed Iran following the disputed presidential election that gave President Mahmud Ahmadinejad a second term.

Video clips and images showing a Baseej patrol car storming into protesters was widely distributed and shocked everybody.

The plan for schools, if implemented, might be a part of a larger scheme General Gheybparvar proposed last November.

His plan was to deploy Baseej patrols in 1000 urban locations all over Iran to help provide "stable security in the neighborhoods, confront the burglars and thugs and prevent any attempt to vandalize and damage public properties”, as his Operations Deputy, Ahmad Zolqadr described it at the time.

The reformist daily Etemad characterized the new plan as a sort of history revisited. The new patrols, Etemad averred, are a reminder of Komitehs (militia committees) in 1980s when they were involved in a gamut of matters, including confrontation with distributors of what was labelled as “illegal cassettes” and tapes of songs and videos as well as storming into family parties.

The plan of more intrusion by the Baseej has also drawn criticism by social media activists, who characterize the militia forces as individuals mainly selected from volunteer youth, usually “school dropouts” who relish a powerful role in society.