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Politics

Day 37 of Protests Across Iran: Medics, dentists and teachers join strikes

October 24, 2022
Roghayeh Rezaei
5 min read
Medics joined university students, schoolchildren and teachers across Iran and went on strike on Sunday, October 23, as nationwide anti-government protests entered a 37th day
Medics joined university students, schoolchildren and teachers across Iran and went on strike on Sunday, October 23, as nationwide anti-government protests entered a 37th day

Medics joined university students, schoolchildren and teachers across Iran and went on strike on Sunday, October 23, as nationwide anti-government protests entered a 37th day.

Iran’s judiciary has banned three teachers' rights activists from leaving the country, sentencing them to five years in prison. Jafar Ebrahimi, Rasoul Badaghi and Mohammad Habibi were charged with "gathering and colluding with the intention of disrupting national security" and "advertising against the regime”.

On Sunday, reporting by Narges Mohammadi, a political prisoner and well-known human rights activist, on the fire in Evin Prison, once again drew public attention to the tragic events which took place there last week. In her report, Mohammadi asked human rights organizations to prevent "endangering the lives of some prisoners" under the pretext of unrest. She suggested there is evidence that prison officials were aware of the attack taking place within the prison.

Authorities have waged a violent crackdown on the protests, killing at least 215 people, including 27 children, according to one human rights organization. Several thousand people, including many teachers, have been arrested. Attacks against schoolchildren have caused public outrage in many cities.

The demonstrations were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in hospital on September 16, three days after the morality police arrested her for allegedly wearing a hijab too loosely.

What happened on the 37th night of nationwide protests in Iran?

**

Protests at universities and schools

Universities in cities across Iran were the scene of student protests on Sunday. Footage posted on social media shows students protesting and clashing with Basij forces at Sharif University, Faculty of Social Sciences of Tehran University, Zahedan Paramedical University, Allameh Tabatabai and the AmirKabir University of Tehran, Soureh University, Isfahan University of Art and Yazd University.

Female students at Sharif University and Tehran Polytechnic University protested against years of gender segregation and violation of their freedoms by entering the men's section of the dining hall.

Students at Zahedan University protested the arrest of their classmates by chanting the slogan: "Our dollars are in Lebanon; our youth are in prison."

At Yazd University, students called for the release of arrested students with the slogan: "All imprisoned student should be freed". At the Isfahan University of Arts, male and female students held hands and sang together in a show of unity.

Students at Azad University of Karaj protested the government by gathering in the university courtyard on Sunday and chanted slogans criticizing the Basij forces. 

Video footage shows Tehran's Sharif University students shouting "freedom, freedom" as they continued their strike. At Allameh University, female students protested against the Basij forces by removing their headscarves and waving them in the air.

Meanwhile, school students in dozens of Iranian cities protested in the streets, held rallies in their schools, and chanted slogans against the leaders of the Islamic Republic. Reports from Sanandaj indicate that security forces attacked a gathering of female students on one of the streets in the city. In Sardasht, a Kurdish border town in West Azerbaijan province, male and female students protested against the government by gathering and chanting the Kurdish slogan "Jen, Zian, Azadi" [Women, life, freedom].

Schoolgirls are the latest – and most surprising – group to challenge the political establishment in Tehran. Security and intelligence agencies are now considering how to suppress crowds of children calling for their freedom as they join the largest demonstrations in Iran since the 2019 cost of living protests which were violently supressed, leading to the deaths of at least 1,500 people.

Teachers strike in several cities

While students have turned schools into the scene of their protests against the government, teachers have also gone on strike in several cities across Iran and refused to enter classrooms in protest.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers' Cultural Associations reported that schools, mainly in predominantly Kurdish cities, followed its call to boycott classes for two days in protest over the deaths and arrests of students.

“We know very well that the military and security forces are invading the sanctity of schools and educational spaces,” the union said in a statement. “They have taken the lives of a number of students and children in the cruellest way.” 

The union said teachers refused to go to classes in Bojnord, Marivan, Saqqez, Kamiyaran, Sanandaj, Baneh, Mahabad in West Azarbaijan, Javanrud in Kermanshah, Shiraz, Neishabur, Hamadan, Lahijan and Bandar Anzali. 

They asked parents either not to send their children to school or to accompany them.

Protest statements from writers, doctors and dentists

A hundred and thirty Iranian doctors and neurosurgeons called on security agencies in a statement on Sunday to "stop violence at all levels of society, especially in dealing with children and teenagers."

They also called for the provision of medical services to all victims, non-interference of security forces in medical affairs, confidentiality for those referred to medical centers, no entry of security and military forces into medical and educational centers, and the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

At the same time, according to a "Radio Farda" report, more than 500 dentists in Iran have signed a statement demanding the "immediate" and "unconditional" release of Fatemeh Mashhadi Abbas, a dentist and professor at Beheshti University.

"Dr Mashhadi Abbas is a strong academic figure, who stands in favor of peace and against violence, who has always stood up for the independence and rights of students," according to a statement. 

More than 600 authors have reacted to the arrest of their colleagues and demanded the immediate release of imprisoned writers and artists. The authors signed a statement and named 47 writers and journalists who have been arrested during the current or previous protests.

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