Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a stark warning to regime officials recently: “We have faults inside the country… if these fractures become activated, then there will be earthquakes!”
Forty-three years into the regime’s rule, we are witnessing signs of such fractures and faults being activated. One such example is the continuous protests by people from all walks of life in hundreds of cities and towns across all of Iran’s 31 provinces. These protests have been gaining momentum since February of last year, in shorter intervals, as many sectors of Iran’s society stage regularly scheduled protests to voice their demands.
Constant protests by teachers and educators represent one of the strongest links in a chained-movement formed by different sectors of Iran’s explosive society. Each member of this tightly knit entity poses a dangerous threat to Khamenei’s apparatus.
On Monday, January 31, over 120 cities checkered across Iran saw rallies by teachers who took to the streets for their fourth nationwide protest in less than three months. Their demands range from better pay and the release of jailed colleagues and also evolving to voicing strong criticism against senior officials, including describing regime President Ebrahim Raisi as a “liar” who has failed to live up to his campaign promises.
Teachers, and the large crowds of ordinary people who have joined their protests, were seen chanting:
“Political prisoners must be released!”
“Raisi, you illiterate! You’re a liar with only six years of education! Where are the results of your promises?!”
“We’ll continue our protests until our rights are met!”
The teachers are vowing to continue their promising movement, emphasizing they should not and cannot remain silent in the face of the regime’s plundering policies. Prior to taking to the streets and following two days of strikes in their schools, Iran’s protesting teachers wrote the following message to their students on their classroom blackboards:
“Whenever we have our rights fulfilled, including freedom, which has been violated in cruelty by regime officials, then we’ll return to our classrooms. No matter what the cost, even if it means taking to the streets, we shall march forward.” Students across the country have been taking to social media and voicing their support for their teachers. This is probably the greatest lesson these teachers will have ever taught their pupils.
During the past three months the teachers’ protest movement has progressed as follows:
– Expanding the geographical scope of their rallies across the country
– Raising the level of their protests into political demands and evolving into anti-regime rallies
– Premeditating their latest nationwide protest with a two-day strike
Last month, the Majlis (parliament) passed the “Teachers Ranking” bill, to supposedly address many of the problems the teachers have been facing in recent years.
Based on this bill, teachers will be classified according to “general, specialized and professional qualifications, experience, and competitive function” and will be divided into five rankings. Salaries will be determined based on the teachers’ ranking.
While the regime has boasted about the bill and its achievements, Iranian teachers are calling out the regime for not addressing their needs.
The Iranian Teachers Coordination Council called the bill deceitful and unacceptable and declared that the government has warned that it won’t even implement this flawed plan in the current Persian year, which will continue until March 2022.
According to the bill, a total of 250 trillion rials will be allocated to around 734,000 teachers across Iran in the coming Persian year, starting in March 2022. But it doesn’t take into account the tens of thousands of tutors who are working on unofficial contracts because the education ministry refuses to hire them despite having passed its test.
But after the bill was passed, Hossein Arab Assadi, the deputy of the Employment Affairs Organization, said, “There’s no funding to implement the law in the current year and the government has no credit for the year 1400 [March 2021-March 2022].”
Majlis (parliament) Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf had previously declared that the Majlis cannot change the 250 trillion-rial budget allocated to this plan per year.
The regime has tried to intimidate the teachers by describing their rallies as a “security threat” and paving the way for their repression.
On December 15, the state-run Keyhan newspaper warned that the rallies are being carried away and controlled by the “enemies of the state.”
Meanwhile, Javan newspaper, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), tried to downplay the teachers’ demands and complained that 72 percent of the education budget increase has been allocated to the teachers. “Instead of allocating our credit to expand the education system and increase the quality of education, we are spending it on salaries,” the newspaper wrote.
Ironically, Javan makes no mention of the budget of its owner, the IRGC, which has seen a 240-percent year-over-year increase to spend billions of dollars on foreign terrorism, ballistic missiles, internet censorship, and domestic repression.
Of parallel significance has been the regime’s inability to contain these expanding protests, sending signals to other branches of Iran’s restive population that are planning similar protests. Just a few years ago when a relatively limited number of teachers rallied outside the Majlis the mullahs immediately dispatched their security forces to attack the protesters using batons and tear gas.
These days, however, we are not witnessing any such scenes and the reason is quite understandable. The mullahs’ regime is deeply concerned about such protests expanding throughout the society and heavy crackdown only encouraging more people to join the protesters’ ranks. All the while, regime officials fully understand this reality that they are merely kicking the can down the road, and the next nationwide uprising, similar to that of November 2019, is inevitable and even right around the corner.