Renewed efforts are underway to free Esmail Abdi after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court officially sentenced the teacher unionist to six years in prison for alleged crimes related to trade union activism.
The February 22 verdict against a leader of the Tehran branch of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association comes eight months after he was arrested while en route to Armenia to obtain a travel visa for Canada. Abdi had his sights set on attending Education International (EI)’s World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.
In custody since his arrest, Abdi was charged with “gathering and colluding with intent to harm public order” and “propaganda against the system,” charges his colleagues say were prompted by his legitimate trade union activities and leadership role.
Education International is once again calling for Abdi’s immediate and unconditional release.
In a letter sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen expressed that Abdi’s detention “represents infringements of various international human rights’ conventions, including those protecting the freedom of expression and association.”
Previous efforts to free Abdi fell on deaf ears, despite a letter writing campaign, along with a LabourStart appeal promoted by EI, which garnered over 12,000 signatures.
After Abdi’s passport was confiscated at the Armenian border he was ordered to return to Tehran to meet with prosecutors. He was arrested when he reported to the prosecution office on 27 June 2015 with 70 supporters by his side.