Iranian teacher union leader once again faces possibility serving full prison sentence (14 February 2017)
Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Tehran Teacher Trade Association, has seen his judicial appeal rejected by Branch 33 of the Supreme Court on 4 February.
This confirms previous judicial decisions and implies that Abdi may have to serve a full six-year jail sentence enacted on November 2016.
Abdi, along with three other Iranian teacher unionists, had already been unjustly detained in July 2015 to prevent them from attending the 7th Education International (EI) World Congress in Ottawa, Canada. He was eventually released in May 2016 after a 16-day hunger strike and massive international campaigns.
Education International has denounced the charges against Abdi, including one for “assembling and colluding against national security,” as unfair and contravening human right conventions. An online petition has been launched in collaboration with the trade union platform LabourStart.
Neoliberal policies in Iran have created a crisis for the country’s educational system and for teachers’ living conditions. The privatisation and commercialisation of education have damaged the foundations of equitable and free education in the country. Many students, especially girls, from low income families in rural and nomadic areas are virtually banned from accessing education, with reports showing that over 3.5 million youth are unable to attend school.
Combined, these issues further highlight how Iranian teachers are deprived of union and human rights. Teachers’ wages are often below the poverty line. However, even in the face of oppressive conditions, Iranian teachers’ nationwide protests and strikes over the past years demonstrate their strong demands for systematic change.