Organizers of a teachers' protest in the Iranian capital, Tehran, say security forces have violently broken up their rally, beating up some of the demonstrators and arresting at least six of them.
Dozens of retired and practicing teachers attended Thursday's protest outside the Iranian government's planning and budget organization building in Tehran. It was one of several rallies around the country organized by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations to protest what it says are poor salaries for teachers and insufficient funding of the public education system as a whole.
The teachers association of Tehran reported that Iranian security forces used force to break up the rally, beating several protesters including women. A member of the association, Sedighe Pakzamir, tweeted the names of six education activists who she said were arrested. Iran's Human Rights Activist News Agency quoted the Tehran association as saying the number of those detained was at least 15.
No other reports of violence
VOA sister network RFE/RL's Radio Farda said Thursday's education protests also were held in Divandarreh, Isfahan, Kazeroun, Kermanshah, Mamasani county, Marivan, Qorveh, Sari, Shiraz and Tabriz. But there were no immediate reports of violence or arrests at those demonstrations.
The demonstrators also denounced the privatization of state-run schools, saying the Iranian government should invest more in the public school sector that provides free education for all children. The lack of investment has driven many public school teachers to take up jobs at private schools to supplement their incomes. The teachers associations say that reduces the quality of teaching in the state sector.
Iran has seen frequent eruptions of public protests drawing dozens to hundreds of people around the country since December. Many have been fueled by anger toward local and national officials and business owners accused of mismanagement, corruption and suppressing freedoms.
In Thursday's edition of VOA Persian's Straight Talk call-in show, most people who called from inside Iran said the protests have not escalated into an ongoing mass movement because many Iranians are afraid of being arrested and assaulted by security forces. Some said many Iranians also do not participate in protests because they are more concerned with the daily struggles of life.
But one caller, who identified himself as Mohammad in the southwestern province of Fars, said he sees a potential for escalating protests, comparing the Iranian people to a stick of dynamite ready to explode.
Behrooz Samadbeygi and Afshar Sigarchi of VOA's Persian Service contributed to this report.