In 2018, Iranian authorities launched a crackdown on educators and teachers demanding better education for all children and better pay, as their wages keep them below the country’s official poverty line. 

Security officials have arrested high school teachers, union leaders and graduate students. Mohammad Habibi, a teacher and union leader, is among them. 

In May 2018, while participating in a peaceful gathering in Tehran, organised by the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association of Tehran, he and 13 others were dragged away and jailed. 

Mohammad was charged with “assembly and collusion against national security”, “propaganda against the state” and “disturbing public order.” He was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison and 74 lashes and is now serving time in Great Tehran Penitentiary. 

 In addition to calling for better wages, the protestors were speaking out against the privatisation of education, which drives up the price of basic education, depriving many poor students of schooling. 

They also spoke out against unsafe and overpopulated classrooms, the content of coursebooks, discrimination in the education system, and the misuse of public assets. 

Though Iran’s constitution protects freedom of assembly and the right to strike, these rights are often viewed as acts against national security. 

Following Mohammad’s arrest, teachers organized a national strike in October 2018 to draw attention to his situation and the broader need for educational reforms. 

They went back on strike one month later with some students joined them to speak out against high tuition fees. Mohammad is still being unjustly held in prison. 

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