Iran Reports

Iranian imprisoned teacher, Esmail Abdi, on a hunger strike since April 30, 2017; hunger strike solidarity on the way!

Esmail Abdi Photo 1Esmail Abdi, who is currently incarcerated in section 350 of Evin Prison, has gone on a hunger strike since April 30, 2017 (Iranian Calendar: Ordibehesht 10, 1396).

 *Also, on the occasion of Teacher’s Day (Ordibehesht 12, 1396/ May 2, 2017), a group of teachers has announced that, in solidarity with Esmail Abdi, they will also go on hunger strike for three days from May 2nd to May 4th, 2017

In an open statement issued on April 22, 2017 Abdi, which was written in Farsi (click here), Abdi highlights that in today’s world education and pedagogy enjoy an international focus, with countries around the world recognizing the right to form autonomous trade unions. Unfortunately, he adds, in our country an amalgam of backward outlooks, official incompetence, exclusionary decision making, allocation of least resources and budgets to Education and turning teachers’ just, legitimate demands into matters of ‘national security’ have resulted in an unceasing violation of teachers’, students’, and generally speaking all social rights in Iran.

In his statement, Abdi points out that as a result of the above systemic government policies and practices, we have ended up with many problems, including but not limited to: astronomical salaries for executives and managers, widespread fiduciary violations of teachers’ pension funds, discriminatory hiring policies, imposition of poverty level wages and salaries, lack of attention to retired teachers and retirees’ issues, problems of non-contract, kindergarten and freelance educators, increasingly alarming levels of child illiteracy and child labor, a lowering of age for addiction, prostitution and drugs making inroads into schoolyards, unjust allocation of resources, creation of inequality in students’ rights through promotion of private elite schools, commercialization and commodification of education, nationwide dilapidated schools specially in peripheries of cities and border regions, ideologized textbooks, creating a security, surveillance, repressive atmosphere in schools and educational matters, dereliction of duty in fair payment of wages,… Such immense social injustices have profoundly distressed Iranian teachers and transformed them into agents of change, motors of contemporary social movements in Iran, Abdi infers.

Abdi further states that in response to these dire circumstances, Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations and the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations, within constitutional frameworks, have repeatedly approached various methods of communication with government officials,  such as letter writing, sending notices, collecting petitions, meetings with Members of Parliament and Ministry of Education, publishing expert studies, issuing communiques,…but despite all these efforts it seems as if officials are willfully deaf, and continue to portray abysmal conditions of the education system as normal.  

However, through call-outs by teachers’ trade associations and collective determination, Abdi emphasizes, conscious teachers resorted to carrying out ‘silent’ protests and also through participation in general assemblies of teachers’ associations and various campaigns such as creation of a nation-wide committee to pursue our demands (with fifty thousand members) or “the Campaign for a Fare Budget” (with 110,000 signatures)have been bringing attention to their issues. Through all these efforts teachers have demonstrated that although we are very diverse in our politics, in pursuing our rights and liberties we are united, totally independent from all political factions.

Abdi asserts that warrantless arrests by security agents who refuse to show their official identification cards, occurring in our homes which intimidates and frightens all family members, illegal detention in jail without any contact with our attorneys,…are all representations of how our rights and liberties are flagrantly violated.

Abdi asks Iranian policy makers and officials:

 – Is membership in a trade association and peaceful assembly, which is in accordance with principles of 26 and 27 of the constitution, a crime?

– Is protesting against the theft and looting of public property, especially the teachers’ reserve fund a crime?

– Does teachers walking in the park, disturb national security?

– Is presence of teachers at the grave of teachers like Doctor Khan Ali, a crime? 

– Is collecting signatures to demand government enforcement of laws is a crime?

– Do you know why Education International (EI) passed two especial resolutions on Iran, on 26 July 2015? 

– Are the ordinary people the only section of society obliged to uphold the laws but government officials are exempt from lawful conduct?

In closing his statement, Esmail Abdi, while declaring solidarity with all teachers and workers, announces that in protest against the Iranian Judiciary’s biased and unjust security charges against activists of teachers’ and workers’ organizations, and to demand the dismissal of all ‘security’ charges in his case, he shall initiate a hunger strike on 30, April 2017.

*In conjunction with Teacher’s Day (Ordibehesht 12, 1396 or May 2, 2017), a group of teachers has announced that, in solidarity with Esmail Abdi, they will also go on hunger strike for three days from May 2nd to May 4th, 2017.

In an open letter, these teachers have stated that they are protesting against the same kind of injustices that have led Abdi to go on hunger strike. They are questioning the authorities why they think it is too much to ask for an open court proceedings with a jury for justice seeking teachers who have unjustly been imprisoned.

“We are clearly saying that we protest the death of justice in this country…. Where in the world the trade union activities and protests by teachers are considered acting against national security? …. Indeed, where in the world protest by teachers face even one day of prison that while you are imprisoning innocent teachers for many years?” They added.

Report prepared by IASWI:

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
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Updated May 2, 2017

More background information:

Esmail Abdi transferred to section 350 of Evin prison

Esmail Abdi, who has already spent about a year and 4 months in notorious Evin prison, was suddenly transferred to from ward 8 to ward 350 from within the same prison!

 Ward 350 of Evin prison does not have any telephone and other means of communication and his wife and three children were not given permission to visit him

 Mr Abdi’s wife has reported that she has not been given any information of her husband’s circumstances and health since 1st of March (2017) and that she does not know why he has been transferred to ward 350.  She has raised serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of her husband

Instead of considering teachers demands for independent trade union, above the poverty-line wages, descent national health, descent pension scheme, free education, safe classroom for students, and to stop privatising Education, Islamic regime of Iran has intensified pressures on teachers activists. Teachers’ activists are either under prosecution, on trial, facing long prison sentence or in the case of Esmail Abdi are incarcerated or like Ali Akbar Baghani sent to exile.

 Esmail Abdi has been targeted by government authorities for his union activities and stance on free and accessible public education for all. IASWI urges all teachers’ organizations internationally to demand immediate freedom of Esmail Abdi and dismissal of all sentences given to teachers’ activists

 International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

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March 7, 2017
PLEASE SEND protest letters to:

* Leader of the Islamic Republic, Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

 Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian)

 Email: [email protected]

 * President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani

 Email: [email protected]

 Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and

 @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

 * IRI’s Minister of Education; Email: [email protected]

 * Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations

 Email: [email protected]

 Cc: [email protected]

 An appeal for retrial of Esmail Abdi has been rejected

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