Iranian teachers held protests on Tuesday in several cities across the country to demand better working conditions and to protest against a series of suspected poison attacks that have been going on for several months, affecting thousands of schoolgirls.
Protests were held peacefully in several cities, however in the Kurdish-majority provinces in the west of Iran, the police attacked protesters.
A Kurdish rights group, Hengaw Human Rights Organisation, reported that the security forces detained two teachers by forcibly apprehending and beating them in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province.
In addition to their usual demands for better salaries and working conditions, the teachers’ unions stressed the need to end the “dominance of the ruling totalitarian ideology” in Iranian schools, arguing that the current incompetent managers of the educational system should be replaced by those educated under a more modern, secular system. The unions reiterated that Iran’s education system will not improve without a fundamental change.
In recent weeks, Iran’s security forces have violently attacked teachers’ protests in Tehran and other cities, detaining several demonstrators.
Subsequently, teachers’ union organisations in Iran called for further protests against chemical attacks and the imprisonment of teachers.
The government has not taken any tangible measures to identify and pursue the perpetrators of the suspected poison attacks on school students, which have affected thousands, mainly girls. Hundreds have been hospitalised, with symptoms including respiratory distress, numbness of arms and legs, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea and vomiting. The attacks have been going on since 30 November 2022. Critics of the Iranian government say they are part of a crackdown on nationwide protests in which schoolgirls have played their part. Government officials are denying any involvement and arguing that the symptoms are the result of mass hysteria.
Students’ families have staged protest rallies urging officials to hold classes virtually rather than on school premises, to protect children from further attacks.