Many teachers have been arrested or summoned to courts, the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) said in a statement on Thursday, November 15.
"At least thirty teachers' rights activists have been summoned and interrogated and more than fifty others have received threatening text messages, so far," CCTSI disclosed, adding, "At least twelve teachers have been detained since last Tuesday, the second day of a new round of sit-ins by teachers across the country to protest hardship, low-quality education, and privatization of the schools.
"The aim of the sit-ins is to force Iran’s rulers to respect their duties defined by the country's constitution and provide free, fair, and high-quality education for all, as well as a respectable livelihood for the teachers,” the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) said in a statement.
Some students have reportedly joined their teachers in the strike, telling local websites they cannot afford the high tuition fees demanded by their schools.
Meanwhile, for the first time, women played a pivotal role in organizing the sit-in protests.
Although the sit-ins were peaceful, many teachers' rights activists were detained or summoned to the courts.
Currently, several teachers' rights activists, including Esmaeil Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, Mohammad Habibi, Rouhollah Mardani, and Abdor-Reza Qanbari are behind bars for alleged "security crimes.”
Furthermore, Hashem Khastar, a prominent teachers’ rights activist in Iran's second largest city, Mashhad, in northeast Iran, was recently abducted by plainclothesmen. Days later his family discovered that he was shackled to a bed at a psychiatric hospital.
Hashem Khastar, a former teacher at the Agriculture Technical High School in Mashhad and an agricultural engineer, is the Head of the Mashhad Teachers Union.
Khastar has been detained several times for defending teachers' rights, most recently having served a term from 2009 to 2011 in Mashhad's notorious prison, Vakilabad.
He has also publicly criticized the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in online forums and called him a "dictator" in a January 2018 commentary published by Iran Kargar.
Following the first round of the two-day teachers' strike, Khastar, who was released under national and international pressure, offered his gratitude to the striking teachers and criticized the Iranian regime in an open letter published on social media.
"We don't have guns. Our guns are our pens and our words and our gatherings and our sit-ins," Khastar wrote, asserting, "The guns are in the hands of those who protect lawless, tyrannical, cruel rulers instead of defending the rule of law. They defend those who steal millions and arrest petty thieves and cut off their hands and legs."