CODIR Calls for Solidarity with Iranian Teachers

Scores of teacher trade unionists were imprisoned in Iran last week for nothing more than demanding a better education system and improved conditions of service.

Teachers held a nationwide protest rally on Thursday 21 April, called by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA), with simultaneous protests in Tehran and dozens of other cities across Iran. This was the latest in a rolling programme of demonstrations that have been taking place since October 2021.

In Tehran, the authorities mounted an intensive security operation with a strong presence of special forces from Ferdowsi Square to Karim Khan Street in the centre of the city. Within minutes, according to the CCITTA, the protesters were met with violence and intimidation and around 40 male and female teachers trying to attend the rally were arrested by plain-clothed forces and guards and transferred to a detention centre operated by the Ministry of Intelligence. Mohammad Habibi, the spokesperson of the Teachers’ Union, released a video announcing that Shahrzad Ghadiri, a member of the Teachers’ Trade Association, and Mr Goodarzi, a history teacher from Islamshahr, were among those arrested. Pedestrians were even debarred from standing across the street by security agents, but despite the strong security atmosphere the demonstrators were undeterred, and the rally went ahead.

The protesting teachers articulated a number of key demands – including full implementation of the law on remuneration of education workers according to their qualifications and skills, as well as the law on equalization of pensions, free and quality education for students, the establishment of classrooms with a maximum capacity of 16 students and the release of imprisoned teachers. 

Many protesters carried posters demanding freedom for Rasoul Bodaghi, a sacked teacher well-known in the struggle for fair salaries and better conditions of service, who was arbitrarily sentenced in a regime show trial on Sunday 17 April to a further five years in prison, as well as a two-year ban on both leaving the country and residing in Tehran, the capital city, or any neighbouring province. Mr Bodaghi had only been released on bail in December 2021 from detention imposed for leading major teachers’ protests earlier that month. 

Demonstrators on Thursday 21 April also called for other imprisoned teacher trade unionists to be freed – including Esmail Abdi, Tehran province’s general secretary who has been serving a 10-year prison term. They also insisted on recognition of their right to organise in their trade unions to defend their jobs and conditions of service.

CODIR has supported the struggle of teachers in Iran for their legitimate demands for many years and now calls for the immediate release of all imprisoned teacher trade unionists and activists. We are asking all trade unions to publicise the plight of their colleagues in Iran and protest to the Iranian government as a matter of urgency. 

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