Iran Minister of Education said Iran’s 14 million students would defend Iran if need be as tensions rise between the US and the Iranian regime.
“We have 14 million students, and if necessary, they will be on the scene like they did throughout the Holy Defense (the Iran-Iraq war),” Mohammad Bathaie, Iran Minister of Education said.
Although this kind of rhetoric sounds like propaganda and psychological warfare, it is not as unlikely as it seems.
Since the Iran Iraq war, which lasted for 8 years in the ’80s, the Iranian regime has been using child soldiers in its war efforts.
During the war with its western neighbor, Iranian children were encouraged to join the battle through visits to schools and an intensive media campaign. The Basij employed human wave tactics which cleared minefields or drew the enemy’s fire.
The typical human wave tactic was carried out by young Basijis (often very lightly armed and unsupported by artillery or air power) to march forward in straight rows. Other children, wrapped in blankets, were used to clear minefields in what Iran called “Operation Ramadan.” They were promised “Paradise” in return.
According to a 1984 New York Times article, “Young boys, aged 12-17 years, wore red headbands with the words ‘Sar Allah’ in Farsi (Warriors of God) and small metal keys that the Ayatollah declared were their tickets to Paradise if they were martyred in their mission. Many were sent into battle against Iraqi tanks without any protection and bound by ropes to prevent desertion.
Iran officially announced that 224,000 soldiers were killed during the Iraq Iran war. If these numbers are real, it means that tens of thousands of children were killed in the war.
In another event on May 5, the Education Minister expressed concern over widespread teachers’ protests in Iran.
“When they gather on the streets, dozens of malicious people who do not care about teachers’ issues stand with teachers and express things that teachers are not concerned with at all and are contrary to the country’s interests,” he said.
In comments carried by the ISNA state-run News Agency, Mohammad Bathaie told teachers that Iran was going through “war like conditions”.
“The enemy is behind the walls of our home and under such inflamed conditions we have to express our problems and demands in a more intelligent way,” he said in a speech to mark Iran’s Teachers Day.
The term “war like conditions” has recently been used on many occasions by other regime senior officials which refers to the US’s ongoing maximum pressure campaign against the regime which could even lead to military confrontations between the two countries.