ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Teachers in multiple Iranian cities on Sunday launched a two-day strike, skipping classes and organizing sit-ins, making wide-ranging demands from better living standards to the right of students to learn in their mother tongue.
On Wednesday, multiple teachers’ unions issued a statement calling for nationwide strikes in schools, calling on all employees to refrain from attending class.
The unions affirmed the strikes and sit-ins were over low living wages, a devalued currency, and Tehran’s suppression of rights activists, among other reasons.
On the second day of the strike, teachers took to social media to share pictures of their sit-ins in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz, Hamadan, Isfahan, Semirom, Yasuj, and Iranian Kurdish (Rojhilati) cities of Marivan (Mariwan), Kermanshah (Kermashan), Ilam, Sanandaj (Sine).
In the social media posts, teachers can be seen gathered in the schools’ halls, principals’ offices, or outside holding signs on which their demands are written.
“We want safe and standardized schools,” read one of the signs.
The strikes come a short week after reports of an incident involving a seven-year-old Kurdish girl in a village in the Sine Province who passed away after a decrepit old school wall collapsed on her, burying her alive.
One sign called on the government to adjust teachers’ salaries to inflation to avoid currency value fluctuations affecting their livelihood.
Iran’s currency has continuously been hitting record lows after the US pulled out from the nuclear deal in May and renewed sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s economy.
Since then, inflation has been eating away at the value of the rial, rousing public anger at Tehran’s inability to properly steer the economy to address the issue sparking country-wide protests and strikes.
“Education in the mother-tongue,” another sign demanded.
One issue highlighted by Nobel Laureate and human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi, during an interview with Kurdistan 24, was that of the ability to learn in local languages, a right sanctioned by Iran’s Islamic Constitution in Article 15.
Some teachers asked for the release of their coworkers. Human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned Tehran’s increased crackdown, eventual detainment, and harsh prison sentences against organizers and affiliates to all forms of activism in the country, including teachers.
Editing by Nadia Riva