Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, was arrested following his attempt to obtain a visa to attend the 7th Education International World Congress in Ottawa, Canada later this month.
According to reports, Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA) General Secretary Esmail Abdi was taken into custody on June 27 after he was prevented from traveling to Armenia to obtain a travel visa for Canada. Abdi intended on participating in Education International’s (EI) 7th World Congress in Ottawa from 21 to 26 July. The ITTA is an affiliate of EI.
EI calls on the ILO and UNESCO to take action
“Preventing Esmail Abdi to leave the country to attend EI’s 7th World Congress is a serious violation of human rights standards,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “There is no excuse for placing him under arrest. This is unacceptable. We are contacting the Iranian authorities demanding his immediate release. We are also requesting the heads of ILO and UNESCO to intervene.”
After Abdi’s passport was confiscated at the border he was ordered to return to Tehran to meet with prosecutors after an apparent order was sent banning Abdi from leaving Iran. However, upon reporting to the prosecution office he was arrested while more than 70 teachers waited outside in support.
Abdi’s arrest is the latest incident involving Iranian authorities’ efforts to silence the trade union leader. In addition to a 10 year suspended sentence handed down in response to his trade union work, reports also reveal that Abdi has been under pressure from the Intelligence Ministry to resign from his position with the ITTA.
Abdi’s incarceration comes after nationwide rallies were held earlier this year to protest wages that leave the majority of teachers below the poverty line.