May 30, 2016 – The statement below was issued on May 12, 2016. Since then Esmail Abdi has been temporarily released on bail but will be facing a new trial soon. Jafar Azimzadeh started his hunger strike on April 29th, and as of May 30, 2016, he has continued his hunger strike despite being transported to hospital twice. Each time the prison authorities brought him back to the Evin prison without allowing any treatment.
Jafar is on indefinite hunger to protest against the fabricated charges of “gathering and colluding with intent to act against national security” and other security-related charges against labour activists, to condemn the anti-labor policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and to protest International Labour Organization’s lack of effective and transparent action against the violation of the most basic rights of workers and teachers in Iran.
May 12, 2016 – Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, the spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), was on hunger strike since April 20, 2016. He later began his dry hunger strike on May 2, 2016. Mr. Beheshti Langroodi was subsequently transferred to a hospital due to stomach bleeding and kidney pains and temporarily released yesterday, May 11, 2016, from Evin prison due to serious health issues. Beheshti Langroodi went on hunger strike to protest his unfair jail sentence for a total of 14 years. He demands a retrial in an open, public court of competent jurisdiction with juries. This is a demand that no decent judge or judiciary system could oppose. However, under the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Judge and the Prosecutor are one and the same. This is a regime whose officials are an amalgamation of murderers, thieves, looters and oppressors, who know very well that granting such a public trial would turn into a case against the prosecutors and expose how the authorities have sentenced an innocent, honorable teacher to fourteen years of imprisonment only because he defends and supports the basic rights of his colleagues.
At the same time, Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran) and Jafar Azimzadeh, chair of the board of directors of Free Union of Iranian Workers have been on hunger strike since April 29, 2016. They have declared an indefinite hunger strike after releasing a joint statement protesting their own and other social and labour activists’ jail sentences, and in support of the demands and right of teachers and other workers. In their statements, they are also protesting the International Labour Organization’s lack of transparency and effective action against violations of workers’ and teachers’ fundamental rights in Iran.
Esmail Abdi was arrested on June 27, 2015 as he was planning to attend the Education International’s World Congress in Canada. He was subsequently sentenced to six years in jail. Jafar Azimzadeh was also sentenced to six years and has been in Evin prison since October 2015.
Teachers’ protests throughout 2015 and their growing movement terrified Islamic capitalist regime. Nationwide and popular demonstrations by teachers on the 16 April and 7 May displayed the depth and extent of discontent amongst teachers. Teachers’ protests also demonstrated how their cause could disperse not only amongst teachers but also take roots and influence the greater family of 12,000,000 students who are overwhelmingly from working class families.
Thus crushing teachers’ nascent movement became a top priority for Islamic Republic government and a focus of all its repressive forces to prevent further expansion of teachers’ protests and to eclipse teachers’ justice seeking struggles. Lengthy prison sentences imposed on leading teachers and increased sentences for activists already in jail were different components of this repressive campaign. Under such circumstances imprisoned teacher Rasoul Bodaghi, whose six-year jail term ended in 2015, had his sentence increased by a further three years. (Rasoul Bodaghi, after having served seven years without a single day of leave, was conditionally released on April 28, 2016 after posting bail.
Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi was incarcerated to serve a nine-year sentence and was then given an additional 5 years’ term. His hunger strike is in response to 14 years’ sentence, which was delivered after a non-public trail that lasted only five minutes.
Esmail Abdi, who had already been given a nine year suspended sentence under the previous administration, was arrested in June 2015 and then given six years imprisonment.
Ali Akbar Baghani a teacher activist spent one year in jail before being sent into internal exile in Zabol.
Alireza Hashemi, general secretary of the Teachers’ Organization, has been sentenced to serve his time in Evin, (currently he’s been allowed a leave of absence).
In addition to arrest and incarceration of these teacher activists, interrogation and harassment of hundreds of other teachers, who have participated in various protests, has become another part of the regime’s project to crush teachers’ movement. The regime has also resorted to widespread harassment, intimidation and repression during Teachers’ protests. For instance, during Teachers’ July 2015 protest in front of Parliament building more than 130 teachers were arrested on the spot.
Demands of Iranian teachers, who constitute a part of the Iranian working class, have always been met by oppression and violence in the Islamic Republic. Poverty wages, four times beneath poverty line, have sucked the life out of Iranian working class families. Suppression of independent working class organizations and their activists, while government promotes and sponsors its own pseudo, ‘labour’ organizations in order to control workers’ protests has contributed to fragmentation of workers’ protests and reduced workers’ capacities to alter the balance of forces and establishment of improved working conditions and higher wages. Privatization of public education and various industries, services and mines have obliterated any job security and pushed wages down. Rapid and further privatization of all economic spheres is currently a high priority for the government. Nonpayment of wages, collective expulsions, lack of any job security, elimination of free education and exceedingly inadequate retirement benefits has made life incredibly unbearable for Iranian working class. A fundamental alteration and change of such miserable circumstances for better is the common goal of all sectors of working class in Iran.
Esmail Abdi and Jafar Azimzadeh began their indefinite hunger strike in protesting repression of workers’ demands and unjust and illegal incarceration and imprisonment of labour activists in Iran. Abdi, Azimzadeh and Langroodi have resorted to the last option available to them and have been endangering their health, wellbeing and lives in order for the world to hear their voices and how workers’ rights are systematically and violently transgressed in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As an act of solidarity with the hunger strikers, more than 500 teachers in Iran, along with their families joined the hunger strike on the 2 and 3 of May 2016.
We once again declare our solidarity with Langroodi, Abdi and Azimzadeh, and while supporting their demands will do our utmost to transmit and reflect their protest and demands thorough the world.
We call on all workers’ and teachers’ organizations, progressive groups, organizations and Human Rights institutions to forcefully and strongly condemn the suppression and incarceration of labour activists and teachers by the Islamic Republic of Iran and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned labour activists and political prisoners in Iran.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
Please send protest letters directly (through email and twitter) to:
· Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian)
Email: [email protected]
· President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and
· Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Email: [email protected]