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Maryam Rajavi’s message for the start of the new academic year in Iran

NCRI – The following is the English translation of a message by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, to Iranian students, teachers and university professors to mark the start of the new academic year in Iran (2015-2016):

Conscious and spirited children of Iran, 

Fellow students,
Honorable teachers, professors and faculty of education,

In the beginning of the new academic year, I would like to salute you, the future makers of Iran. I wish you a fruitful year where you can advance on the path of freedom and emancipation of your nation and homeland.

May the new academic year, like last year, witness further escalation of nationwide protests by freedom-loving teachers and may our fellow dissatisfied and restive countrymen, particularly students, workers and nurses, would join in and rise up hand in hand.

This year, the activity of schools and universities is beginning in circumstances while the regime’s retreat from its nuclear weapons program has shaken up and undermined the entire clerical apparatus. In the meantime, the ruling mullahs’ political and economic failures and their disability in containing the crisis have become apparent everywhere as the righteous demands of the populace are spreading.

For years, the regime had given priority to its nuclear weapons project and to terrorism and interference in the region over everything else. The greater portion of the country’s wealth and revenues, which had to be spent on genuine development in Iran, was squandered in the furnace of policies of the religious dictatorship. Now they are confronted by the Iranian people’s protests and defiance, and particularly the extensive protestations of teachers. They protest prevalent repression in schools and universities. They protest retardation and decline of education and higher education. They protest humiliation, discrimination and suppression of teachers and professors.

Fellow compatriots,
While the ruling mullahs’ multi-billion-dollar embezzlements are being divulged one after the other, our children’s classes are held in tents or tumbledown rooms in deprived neighborhoods. Children sit on tin cans instead of chairs and benches. Children have to study in metal trailers in the scorching heat of Abadan (southwestern Iran). There is not a single school in the 70 villages throughout Saqqez (in Kurdistan, western Iran). And doing homework is a dream for girl children.

100,000 students in Sistan and Baluchistan (southeastern Iran) do not have any teachers.

In Tehran, some classrooms are so crowded that students can hardly breathe. A large number of schools are so old and worn-out that children are always in danger of some accident, as was the case in Shinabad, Piranshahr (in Kurdistan, western Iran).

In western Azerbaijan (northwestern Iran), hundreds of schools hold their classrooms in trailers.

In northern Khorassan (northeastern Iran), thousands of schoolboys and girls have to drop out of school.

In some parts of Charmahal-o Bakhtiari (western Iran), girls cannot go to school because there are no female teachers.

In the impoverished suburbs of metropolitan cities where up to 18 million people live, there are quite a few townships that do not have any elementary or high schools.

Every year, at least a quarter of Iranian students have to quit school, a number of whom join child workers whose numbers are today estimated between two to five million.

In recent years, Rouhani has shut down many rural schools under the pretext of budget cut down.

This year’s education budget is about 26k billion toumans compared to more than 70k billion toumans allocated to military, security and export of terrorism.

Privatization of education, which is being pursued and expanded by Rouhani’s government, has turned education into a means for business. Just like privatization of economic institutions, this policy has brought about only further anarchy and regression in education.

They earn the bulk of school expenses from low income families and 80 per cent of the country’s students have to pay tuitions to continue their education. The quality of education has sharply declined and the living standard of teachers and university professors has plummeted dramatically.

Corrosion of Education in Iran is the outcome of a policy called, “Transformation of Education”, knowingly implemented since 2011 on Khamenei’s orders. The consequence of this deeply backward and fascist transformation, which is now being followed by Rouhani’s government, is establishing dominance of the clerical seminary of Qum over educational institutes through admission of several thousand mullahs to schools. It also attempts to inject misogynous ideology into schools and further commercialize education. The honorable faculty of education and particularly the teachers, however, have risen against this policy.

Fellow students,
Today, your ardent calls for freedom and a democratic education environment defy the mullahs’ medieval dictatorship.

The ruling tyranny that has restrained universities from all sides, must be demolished.

Security forces’ inquisitions, harassment and clampdowns, especially the Harassat and the representatives of the Vali-e Faqih and Bassij are much too weak to enchain your determination for freedom.

One must challenge the ruling mullahs: Why do they spend the best part of universities’ budget on repressing them? Why do dormitories, workshops, laboratories, self-service restaurants, and other student accommodations become more scarce, damaged and worn out every year?

Why is the budget allocated to key universities, such as Tehran University, the universities of Shiraz, Isfahan and Tabriz as well as Sharif, Amir Kabir and Elm-o San’at universities, less than the budget allocated to the clerical seminaries by the Rouhani government?

Why are university graduates not able to find jobs in their own area of specialty, or any jobs at all? Why should so many of them resort to jobs like driving and transportation of passengers? What have the mullahs done to the college educated population that people with bachelor’s degree are found sleeping in cardboard boxes in the streets?

Nonetheless, the era of ignorance, coercion and reaction is over and it shall be overcome by freedom and justice.

Fellow compatriots,
The teachers’ courageous movement which surfaced in five series of major nationwide demonstrations last year in over 90 cities, on the one hand displayed the admirable determination of our sisters and brothers, our fellow teachers, to stand up to the mullahs’ tyranny, poverty and inequality and on the other hand, challenged the religious fascism’s most fundamental conducts and policies in education.

The following are the most important demands of Iranian teachers as declared in their demonstrations and published statements. They clearly seek to smash the tyrannical regime prevailing Iran’s education:

• Freedom of imprisoned teachers;
• Recognition of the education faculty’s right to protest;
• Provision of student’s rights;
• Freedom of guild activity;
• Participation of teachers in educational structures;
• Establishment of a pro bono system of education; and
• Elimination of discrimination and inequality against teachers.

Obviously, Iranian teachers have brought up demands which suit peaceful demonstrations but the ruling regime cannot approach any of their demands, viewing them as detrimental to its decadent existence. Hail to the teachers all across the country.

The regime dealt brutally with the teachers’ protests, beating up and arresting them, thus arousing a wave of international abhorrence and censure. The scenes and images of teachers’ courageous demonstrations, chants and hand-written placards aroused admiration and support of all our countrymen. They said:

• “We complain of inequality, not of poverty”
• “poverty line= 3million, our salary= 1million”
• “Teachers’ respect trampled by inflation and high prices”

Teachers’ steadfastness and their consecutive calls for continuation of the protests showed that their solidarity and determination are far stronger than the ruling discrimination and oppression.

Indeed, why are teachers humiliated in a country that has the oldest civilization, the richest culture and teaching traditions?

Why do three-fourth of teachers live below the poverty line in a country with so much oil and gas reserves?

Their mantra is: “Teachers don’t have bread, teachers don’t have housing, teachers have debts.”

Why should so many teachers work after school as drivers and street peddlers? Why should they chant, “The pain is unbearable – How much longer should we bear discrimination and injustice?”

Why should pre-school teachers stage a sit-in and spend the nights with their small children outside the parliament to demand their rights?
Why should teachers be under so much pressure? In Khuzistan Province alone, 7000 honorable teachers have either resigned or requested resignation.

Why should that retired teacher in Songhor, set himself ablaze outside the governor’s building?

Freedom-loving teachers,
I salute you brave women and men across Iran. You have become teachers of resistance and steadfastness despite enduring so much pressure and hardship.

We hail you, because you hoisted the flag of freedom and righteous demands in dozens of cities in Iran.

Vis-a-vis the mullahs and their operatives who do not pay the least attention to your cries, the most important thing to do is even more protests.

If any money was released from the frozen assets after sanctions are lifted, it must be spent on your welfare? Do not allow the Iranian people’s wealth be spent on the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Your deprivation from minimum livelihood, housing, insurance and healthcare must be terminated.

Overlooking of your dignified stature must be ended.

Education and university faculty of Iran,
Never before had the contradiction between students, graduates, teachers and professors on the one hand and the ruling regime on the other been as strong as it is today.

Four million university students, millions of university graduates, 13million high school students and more than one million teachers and professors demand a lifestyle that is in no way compatible with living conditions under the mullahs’ rule. In fact, there is an army of educated youths who have high skills and great knowledge but do not have any role or share in the country’s policy or economy and have ended up opposing the corrupt dictatorship in power.

The student generation is fed up with coercion and force. They thirst for new things; they love science, technology and progress. They hate anything that sounds like the ruling regime. The first condition for advancement and progress is of course, freedom. The first condition is free choice; the first choice is respecting opinions and choices of every Iranian youngster and youth.

Yes, this generation seeks answers to its many questions; it wants to argue; it wants to make its own choices; it wants to choose its own ways and manners of living; their own education fields, their jobs, and their goals. The most important and the highest choice of theirs, however, is freedom. It is this choice that causes permanent instability to mullahs’ religious dictatorship.

Dear faculty of education and universities,
There are numerous and growing number of indications that bespeak of the dawning of a new era.

As the leader of the Iranian Resistance, Massoud Rajavi, declare: “Now we have passed a turning point in the destiny of this regime… We face a poisoned and much weaker enemy and this is not something that could be concealed or presented otherwise. It will be rapidly proven in practice.”

Despite its daily crimes, the ruling regime has reached the end of the line. Now is the time for Iran’s freedom movement to rise up from beneath the ashes of suppression. And you, the conscious and freedom-loving youths of Iran are on the frontline of this movement. It is upon you to rebel against fear, submission, and passivism.

Silence, acquiescing to the status-quo, succumbing to coercion and terror, giving in to the choice between bad and worse, etc. are patterns enforced by the mullahs’ religious dictatorship and must be dealt with at the their roots.

The willpower and creativity of each and every one of you, your power of solidarity and the enormous force that exists in your penchant for freedom, is what the ruling regime is struggling full force to hide and deny. Now the key to change is in the hands of the Iranian people. Today, is the day of unity among teachers, workers and nurses.

Valiant youths of Iran,
You are descendants of a path from which arose the Mojahedin pioneers and combatants. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) which has now become 50, was born from the conscious youth.

You have brilliant models in the history of your homeland who have been able to break through any deadlock in the most difficult circumstances.

Even today, you have role models like the champions of steadfastness extending from PMOI members in Camp Liberty to political prisoners throughout Iran and martyrs like Shahrokh Zamani, who shine and show the bright path to future.
From now on, most developments are to the regime’s detriment. Turn each and every one of them into an opportunity for protest and struggle.
Rise to the aid of Iranian teachers and encourage other compatriots to join the movement.

Struggle for formation of associations and guilds which could facilitate your collective struggle in every way. Today, all sectors of our nation must join hands to achieve freedom in unity and solidarity.

Fellow countrymen and women,
Tomorrow’s Iran needs an advanced education system which would be mandatory and free for all children of Iran. Such a system must be free of any political and cultural subjugation and promote political participation of all citizens.

We also need a democratic higher education based on independence of institutions of higher education and recognition of academic freedom.

We need a comprehensive athletic regime based on the fundamental principle of indiscriminate and free access of all youths and youngsters in every city and village to sports accommodations and which provides for free and equal participation of women and girls in various athletic fields across the country.

We say the existence of ethnic minorities in Iran comprises a great and effective force for toppling the mullahs’ regime and achieving freedom. Therefore, we should value this multi-cultural and multi-lingual character of our nation.

Our compatriots who are from different nationalities, cultures and languages, must be able to equally participate in national decision-makings. They must be able to preserve their cultural, religious and lingual identity. They must be able to speak, work and study in their mother tongues and promote them.

We are determined to remove all forms of suppression and censorship. This is the freeway that leads to a democratic regime.

We are determined to provide the conditions for free choice, to flourish political participation through freedom of expression and unrestricted activity, and to pave the way for a thriving political participation.

Let us open the gates of the world and all its knowledge and information on Iranian youths.

We insist on equality of all Iranian citizens;
Everyone’s equality in electing and getting elected;
Equality of men and women in all political, social, economic and family rights;
And everyone’s enjoyment of equal opportunities for education, higher education, employment and business.

Yes, we are seeking a new order based on freedom, democracy and equality.

The force for this great transformation, is you, the conscious and freedom-loving youths of Iran and I call on all of you to rise for the establishment of a free and democratic Iran.

Hail to Iranian students,
Hail to all teachers and professors,
Hail to freedom.