A Statement by the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates

The Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates has issued a statement protesting the sentence imposed on Mohammad Habibi, a teacher union activist. The council has called the verdict a good example to measure judicial fairness in Iran. The Council has also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Habibi.

“The judge’s motive behind this verdict is to send a warning to the society: If you are pursuing justice, you will face prison and lashing”

Full translated text of the statement:

Ninety days have passed since the unlawful and violent arrest of Mr Mohammad Habibi, a member of the board of the directors of the Teachers Union Association of the Province of Tehran. The arrest appalled the teachers and the society as a whole, and every conscientious person has condemned this move.

The events since Mr Habibi’s arrest on May 10th – from the way he was arrested, the legal process and the location of detention – all pointed to the fact that there is an extrajudicial will to impose an unlawful ordeal on this jailed teacher. Annulling the bail and a request made by the IRGC Intelligence unit to unlawfully transfer Habibi to Tehran are examples of the lack of due process and infringement on the rights of the accused. Sadly, this is not the whole story. Mr Habibi was denied urgently needed medical attention. Such negligence coupled with deplorable prison conditions could lead to a tragedy if the status quo persists.

Based on reliable information obtained by the Council, the family of Mr Habibi did not stop at any attempts to fight for his rights. They have pursued his case through letter writing and in-person visits [with officials]. As a result of their efforts, it could be said with certainty that authorities on the highest level are aware of Mohammad Habibi’s appalling conditions. They know how distressed the teaching community in Iran is over Mr Habibi’s ordeal. Nevertheless, Judge Ahmadizadeh who presides over Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, in an unprecedented and unfair verdict, sentenced this committed teacher to 10 and a half years in prison, a two-year ban from social activities, a two-year ban from leaving the country. And to make the punishment harsher, he added 74 lashes to the sentence.

It is as though the judge’s motive behind this verdict is to send a warning to the society: If you are pursuing justice, you will face prison and lashing. It is as though the judge wishes to tell oppressed people who are frustrated and fed-up with corruption and rising prices that authorities don’t touch the thieves and the embezzlers, and only seek [individuals such as teachers] who fight for freedom and justice.

In our view, the instances of due process violation are so evident that investigating the judicial ordeal of Mohammad Habibi’s case could be used as a measure of justice in the Judiciary. Therefore, we ask independent jurist and legal experts to investigate this matter so that perhaps the Judiciary would respond to the inquiries and concerns of teachers:

1) We would like to know on what basis the agents [who came to arrest Mr Habibi] put a gun to his head while handcuffing him?

2) We would like to know what or who allowed plainclothes agents to drag Mohammad Habibi on the pavement after beating him?

3) We would like to know on what basis and how the investigator first set a bail, only to annul it later and send the case to the court?

4) We would like to know why the judge rejected the bail and returned Mr Habibi to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary?

5) We would like to know why Mohammad Habibi was not transferred out of prison for medical care despite the coroner’s confirmation that he needed care?

6) Why and how a judge increased the punishment that he imposed? The maximum penalty for collusion is five years in prison. For propaganda against the regime it is one year and for disturbing the public order is a one-year prison term. The judge did not contend to the maximum and increased the sentence length by 1.5 to 10 and a half years in prison while his punishment in the worst case would have been 7.5 years in prison.

These are the unanswered questions that have preoccupied the minds of most teachers.

How odd are all this hostility and rancour with the people who are responsible for the education of the children?

The Council condemns in the strongest term the sentence against Mr Habibi and demands his immediate release until the case is heard before an appeals court. The teaching community does not accept the charges against the imprisoned activist and is asking for the exoneration of Mr Habibi in an appeals court. We believe imprisoning union activists is a clear example of treating civil activities as security threats. In such a climate, and while there are jailed teachers, speaking of resolving educational problems is futile. Consequently, the union activists, mindful of their imprisoned colleagues, will start this school year in a new, different way.

The Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates 
August 7th, 2018


In mid-July, a group of graduated teachers met with the Minister of Education’s advisor in Union Affairs and delivered a letter in defense of Mohammad Habibi. In the letter, the signatories expressed concerns about Mr Habibi’s health and asked for his transfer to Evin Prison.

In June, a letter signed by 6,500 teachers and civil rights activists demanding the release of Mr Habibi was delivered to the Iranian Parliament.

On May 10, 2018, the Council called on the teachers to assemble in protest. In Tehran, several of the protestors were arrested and transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison. They were all released on bail three days later except for Mr Habibi.

Mohammad Habibi was previously arrested in March 2018 and was jailed for 44 days before he was released on a $50,000 USD bail [the figure in USD is an approximate amount].


Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRNANA) 

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