Teachers in Iran again held rallies across the country yesterday, to protest against the deteriorating living conditions and the failure to implement wage and pension reforms.
Pictures and video recordings circulated showing the extent of the widespread participation in the protests.
The Coordinating Committee of Teachers’ Unions stated, in its account via the Telegram network, that teachers organized vigils in front of the education departments’ headquarters in about 50 Iranian cities. The committee’s spokesman, Muhammad Habibi, wrote on Twitter that the security forces had arrested 70 teachers in the Zara and Kisha districts in Tehran.
The committee said that “due to the security atmosphere imposed on (Qarni Street) today, the security forces prevented gatherings, and arrested about 40 teachers and transferred them to the Wuza detention center.” One of the detainees, she said, was an 80-year-old retired teacher. Later, a spokesman for the Syndicate of Laborers announced that the authorities had released all 70 of the arrested teachers.
The committee’s statement yesterday noted that “this level of attack and violence is reminiscent of the rallies on July 22, 2015 in the government of (former Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani,” adding that “this repressive approach shows that it is the approach of the establishment and the regime in confronting any kind of demand for justice.” ». In its statement, the Coordinating Committee demanded the immediate release of the prisoners and the dismissal of the minister, who turned the ministry into a “center of conspiracy against teachers.” The committee warned the authorities that “the street is ours, and we will return to it with strength.”
The teachers raised in the city of Sanandaj; The center of Kurdistan province, “red cards in the face of Parliament, the government, the Minister of Education, and state television,” according to the Coordinating Committee. In the city of Rasht, the center of Gilan province, teachers raised a banner bearing the pictures of all union members detained in Iran.
The teachers chanted slogans of solidarity with union members such as Jaafar Ibrahimi and Rasoul Badaki, calling for the release of teachers arrested by the authorities because of a union demand.
Earlier this week, an Iranian court convicted and sentenced Rasoul Badaghi, a member of the teachers’ union, to five years in prison, and banned him from residing in the capital, Tehran, or its neighboring provinces.
Badaki was arrested last November after participating in the vigil. He is among the former detainees in the “Green Movement” protests against what the reformist movement considered the rigging of the 2009 presidential elections. Badaki was convicted in September 2009 and sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime”, and was dismissed from his job.
The teachers’ protests come at a time when the issue of price hikes has turned into a ball of fire in recent days in the face of Parliament and the government. The administration of President Ibrahim Raisi has faced criticism from lawmakers for its inability to curb price hikes.
Raisi and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf blamed the previous government for the price hike. The latest wave of high prices came after the Vienna negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear agreement faltered, the success of which would lift the sanctions that were restored by former US President Donald Trump.
After overcoming a Russian obstacle, Iran requests the removal of the Revolutionary Guards from the list of terrorist organizations and US and European sanctions to reach an understanding to return to the nuclear agreement.
“The Revolutionary Guards do not want to keep their name on the list of terrorist organizations, and most importantly, they want to raise this impression among the public opinion that it is an obstacle to reaching a Negotiations come to a conclusion.
Teachers chanted slogans against Qalibaf, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, who is facing criticism after photos taken by Iranians from Istanbul airport revealed the return of his wife, daughter and husband from “shopping”.
It later became clear that the pictures were taken after a quarrel between Qalibaf’s daughter and the airline crew, over insisting on passing a shipment consisting of the baby’s clothing, before reformist activists resorted to the Twitter network, which is banned in Iran, to publish the details of the case.
The eldest son of the Speaker of Parliament, Elias Qalibaf, intervened, and wrote on his account on the “Instagram” network that the visit was “certainly wrong given the economic conditions of the people,” but he refused to visit his family members in order to buy baby supplies. He said: “This journey is an unforgivable mistake. Because it shows that the previous charges against my father are true.” He added, “What makes it an unforgivable mistake is that it damages people’s confidence and prolongs the tongues of the counter-revolutionaries.”
– New scandal
The involvement of Qalibaf and his family soon became a hot issue on social networks. The Iranians have launched the hashtag “Simoni-Gate” in reference to the name “baby supplies” in the Persian language. The teachers quoted the name in their slogans against the deteriorating living situation.
Yesterday, the IRGC’s Fars news agency said that the Qalibaf family’s visit to Turkey “was not to buy baby supplies, and the issue of extra weight was not on the table.” The agency indicated that Qalibaf “was opposed to his family’s travel.” The reformist “Ibtikar” published a cartoon of the Speaker of Parliament showing his shadow in the form of a crawling child and wrote next to the drawing “Sesame-Gate”.
Yesterday, an Iranian newspaper demanded Qalibaf to submit his resignation. “Mr. Qalibaf… Please resign,” wrote the reformist Aftab newspaper. On her front page, she wrote: “They will go down in history: When the Iranian people were hard-fought, the wife and daughter of the Speaker of Parliament went to Turkey to buy clothes for the child.”
The case has divided his allies in the camp. A media advisor to the Speaker of Parliament criticized what he described as “writing children’s mistakes in the parents’ record.” And the former MP, Hamid Rasayi, wrote: “Just as we should not write the children’s mistake in the parents’ registry, we should not write the children’s apologies in the name of the fathers.”
Meanwhile, a video clip circulated from a television debate between Qalibaf and his rival in the 2017 presidential elections, former President Hassan Rouhani, and Qalibaf was blaming Rouhani for importing children’s clothing from a minister’s daughter from Italy.
The debate over the spread of corruption was one of the central issues in the 2017 elections, and Qalibaf was at the time facing corruption charges due to his involvement in the “star real estate scandal” related to the sale of properties and real estate owned by the Tehran municipality, at prices below their market value. On the other hand, the former president was facing the “star salaries” scandal, which was linked to the salaries of officials and bank heads.