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Renewed Call for Rights as Iran Marks Teachers’ Day

May 5, 2015
2 min read
Renewed Call for Rights as Iran Marks Teachers’ Day

Teachers gathered on May 2 to pay their annual tribute to Abolhassan Khanali, who was murdered during a teachers’ strike on May 2, 1961.

This year’s commemoration comes at a politically fraught time for educators. In March and April, activists protested against inadequate salaries and rights infringements. On April 18, the secretary of Iran’s teachers’ union, Alireza Hashemi Sanjani, was arrested and taken to Evin Prison following a nationwide protest just days before. Over the last decade, there has been a significant rise in the number of protests organized by teachers.

Khanali was shot dead by Major Nasser Shahrestani, the police commander for Baharestan in Tehran, in 1961. He had joined a strike organized by teachers to protest against low salaries. Crowds of people attended his burial the next day; at the time, it was thought to be the biggest public protest since the 1953 coup. Not only did teachers call for Khanali’s murderer to be brought to justice, they demanded the resignation of the prime minister, Jaffar Sharif Emami, as well as for recognition of their rights. Three days later, Jaffar Sharif Emami handed in his resignation and the Shah recommended Ali Amini to parliament as the new prime minister. Protests continued for seven days. When he took office, Ali Amini accepted all of the teachers’ demands, stripped Nasser Shahrestani of his title and ordered that he go on trial.

Every year, educators come together at Ebne Babooye cemetery in southern Tehran to mark Khanali’s death. The day, which has been dubbed “Teachers’ Day,” was originally designated as a day of honor for Khanali, though it is not officially recognized. Since the Islamic Revolution, the day has been associated with the murder of the more famous Morteza Motahari, who taught philosophy at the University of Tehran and was one of the most important thinkers behind the revolution. Motahari was murdered on May 1, 1960.

Read the original article in Persian


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