Committee of Human Rights Reporters – The Iranian Teachers’ Association rally scheduled to take place on July 22nd across the parliament was broken off by violent clashes with police and security forces.
According to CHRR, witnesses present at the rally said security forces stationed in front of the parliament building attacked any cluster that was more than two people and violently arrested around 200 teachers. Witnesses reported that while the police forces were somewhat respectful, the plainclothes officials were rude & aggressive. The teachers were loaded onto a mini-bus and taken to an undisclosed location. About 24 hours later it was reported that the majority of the arrested teachers were released.
The rally of the Teachers’ Trade Association was to protest the lack of attention to union demands and the teachers’ low wages that keeps many below the poverty line. The teachers were also expressing their outrage at the recent arrest of Esmail Abdi, the Secretary General of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association.
On June 27th Esmail Abdi was arrested and transferred behind bars after visiting Evin prison to inquire about his travel ban status. He had been ordered to show up at Evin by the prosecutor’s office after he requested permission to leave the country to attend the 7th Education International World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.
Mr. Abdi had previously been arrested on numerous occasions; four times in 2006 and 2007 after which the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In 2011 after the prison sentence was handed down, Mr. Abdi was threatened and warned that if he refused to resign as Secretary General of the Teachers’ Trade Association, he would have to serve his 10-year sentence behind bars.
In recent months the Teachers’ Trade Association leaders and members have faced additional pressure due to their protests and activities. Alireza Hashemi the Director of the Teachers’ Association was arrested in March and transferred to prison where he is serving a 5-year prison sentence. Other leaders and members currently behind bars are Rassoul Bodaghi (jailed since September 2009), Ali Akbar Baghani, Mahmoud Bagheri and Alireza Ghanbari. International labor organizations have expressed outrage over the imprisonments and written letters demanding the immediate release of the jailed teachers.