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Teachers' Strike Sees Classes Canceled Across Iran

Iranian teachers in many parts of the country refused to go to their classes for the second day in a row, in protest to their situation on Monday, October 15, 2018. One placard says: "A teacher's place is not in prison".

Iranian teachers went on strike October 14 and 15, holding sit-ins at elementary and high schools across the country to demand better pay and conditions and an end to the detention of education activists.

Iranian social media has been abuzz yesterday and today with photos of teachers demonstrating outside their schools or in the hallways and principals’ offices in cities across the country, including Amol, Eslam Abad, Garmeh, Gonabad, Hamadan, Ilam, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Marivan, Mashhad, Sanandaj, Sarvabad, Semirom, Tabriz, Torbat Heidarieh, Yasouj, and Zarin Shahr, as well as the capital, Tehran.

The two-day strike was called by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Union (CCTU), and was promoted on Twitter with the hashtag "#nationwide teachers' sit-in.”

Teachers complained that their meager salaries are no match for the inflation, rising prices and the severe drop in purchasing power the country has been experiencing. Iran’s economy, which critics say has been struggling for years under mismanagement, went into a tailspin in May when the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and a reimposition of sanctions.

“Out-of-control inflation and hiking prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen inexorably,” the CCTU reiterated in a statement ahead of the strike.

Footage and other images circulated on social media showing the striking teachers holding up placards and banners with their demands written on them, which included the release of teachers behind bars.

Retired teachers have offered their support to their striking colleagues, and some teachers say equal access to education is also among their demands.

A dervish Sufi teacher of Gonabadi denomination, Fa'izah Abdipoor, tweeted that teachers attending sit-in protests demand “equal, free, quality education for all” adding, “We want to be teachers in our classrooms, not monitors,” a reference to the pressure put on Iran’s educators by the security services to inform on their activist colleagues.

According to CCTU's news channel on Telegram, "The security and intelligence organs raised their pressure on the teachers' rights activists prior to the sit-in to stop the nationwide protest."

Iranian teachers have been protesting economic hardship, low wages, inferior curriculum, and being deprived of the right to establish an officially recognized trade union for years.

Nevertheless, their demands have never been answered, and dozens of teachers’ rights activists have been arrested.