A senior Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) official has announced that the Basij militia will soon be established in Iranian elementary schools for the first time since the Islamic revolution.
The extensive plan calls for the introduction of the Basij into 6,000 elementary schools across the country, according to IRGC General Mohammad Saleh Jokar, head of the Schoolchildren and Teachers' Basij Organization. 'We want to expand the Basij's activities at the primary-school level because students are more influenceable at a young age than at other times in their lives,' Jokar told Mehr News in an interview published on Monday. 'We intend to promote and instill a revolutionary and Basiji thought process among elementary school students.'
The militia has been present in middle schools and high schools since its inception 30 years ago, but the founding law of the schoolchildren's Basij, passed by the Majlis on April 29, 1996, mandated its presence in elementary schools too. 'We had not formed Basij units in elementary schools until now because of budget restrictions, but more funds were allocated this year,' Jokar explained to Mehr news.
It appears that the indoctrination of children, despite falling state revenues, has become a priority of the regime as the protest movement seeps into schools. The following footage shows students at a girls' school singing a university protest anthem on November 4:
Another video shows students chanting 'We don't want a potato government,' alluding to rumors that the Ahmadinejad campaign had bribed voters with bags of potatoes prior to the June 12 election:
told Fars news in late October that 36,000 schoolchildren had been 'martyred' during the Iran-Iraq War. The organization cultivates a culture of martyrdom in its literature and posters. Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh was honored during this year's Schoolchildren's Basij Week and held up as a model for youngsters. According to the official story, Fahmideh volunteered to become a soldier in 1980, at the age of 13. In the battle for Khorramshahr, he pulled out a grenade's pin, before crawling under an advancing Iraqi tank. He died in the suicide blast which also stopped the Iraqi column in a narrow canal.
The schoolchildren's Basij organization claims on its site that it has 4.6 million student members. However Jokar's contention to Fars news that three million schoolchildren would participate in the November 4 ceremony makes any figures emanating from this source somewhat suspect. '60% of middle school and high school children are Basijis,' he told Fars news in the same interview.
Jokar asked all interested elementary students to fill out special forms available at the Basij units in their schools. 'Basij identity cards will be issued to them,' Jokar assured Mehr news.