Iranian Teachers need our support

For more than ten years, employed and retired teachers have pursued their demands in the most peaceful and civilized way possible, such as correspondence, petitions, negotiations, school closures, rallies in front of the parliament, and education offices in cities and provincial capitals.

All these years, they have been pressured and their demands have been ignored. Union leaders and a large number of our country's teachers have been tortured and physically and mentally abused in Iranian prisons for many years, including Mohammad Habibi, Ismail Abdi, Nahid Fath'alian, Hashem Khastar, Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, Zeinab Hamrang, Sotoudeh Fazelia and Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi.

Unfortunately, a number of teachers' union leaders and officials, such as Mr. Ismail Abdi, are still in prison. The arrest and beating of Mr. Rasoul Badaghi is the latest in a series of crackdowns on teachers' leaders and spokespersons. It should be noted that activists who have been released after serving long sentences are always threatened and at risk of arrest and re-imprisonment if they join a union.

These days, our country has witnessed large, glorious and integrated protest rallies of employed and retired teachers throughout Iran in 90 cities and villages of the country, which according to officials and government agencies of the Islamic Republic, the poverty line has increased to 13 to 14 million tomans. It should be noted the average income of a teacher is only 7 million tomans.

For many years, teachers have been calling for the implementation of the "Teacher Ranking Plan and the Equalization of Pensions." In contrast, government officials have made false promises to teachers' commissions between parliament and government commissions. Employed and retired teachers have been protesting against the government's cat and mouse game for years in the form of nationwide sit-ins, strikes and coordinated rallies in various cities, but their response has been the arrest or dismissal of a number of influential teachers each time. In this regard, in recent days, we have witnessed summonses, arrests, threats and attacks by security forces on a large gathering of teachers in front of the parliament, including the beating of, Rasoul Badaghi, an inspector of the Tehran Teachers' Union, on December 11th and arresting him at his home in Islamshahr. Other teachers have also been summoned or threatened.

The Islamic Consultative Assembly, after three days of nationwide teachers' demonstrations on December 20, 21 and 22, finally approved the ranking plan on Wednesday, the 24th of the same month. Mohammad Habibi, a spokesman for the Teachers' Union, wrote in a Twitter message: "What was approved in parliament today was a draft, not a ranking plan."

Mahmoud Beheshti has the same judgment about the parliament's decision. He classifies the main demands of teachers into three categories:

First: Ranking employed teachers so that their minimum wage level is above the poverty line.

Second: Equalization of pensioners' salaries according to the conditions of the day.

And finally, the third: the release of all imprisoned teachers, especially Mr. Rasoul Badaghi.

He and his other colleagues in the "Coordination Council of Iranian Cultural Trade Unions", while reading the parliament's resolution, insisted on continuing the struggle until the full realization of the rightful demands of teachers, and called on their colleagues to hold another nationwide protest on Thursday, January 6th.

While supporting the demands of employed and retired teachers, we call on all social and cultural strata, mothers and fathers of students, academics, workers and employees to strive to support teachers in our country of Iran and not to leave them alone in this struggle.

It is only in the unity and cooperation of all the people of Iran that we can put an end to injustice, poverty, prostitution, addiction and all the other calamities that have befallen our lives.

The government of the Islamic Republic will not be able to beat Sattar Beheshti's mother only if we unite and move together, imprison activists such as Narges Mohammadi for supporting mourning mothers and torture them in solitary confinement, or murder Haidar Ghorbani, whose father was executed in 1979.

It is only in the form of our unity that this government will not be able to carry out military and international adventures and will not be able to transfer the country's wealth to the terrorist forces in order to export the Shiite revolution.

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