CODIR Calls for the Release of Teacher Trade Union leader from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Iran:

CODIR today reiterated its call for the immediate and unconditional return of Mr. Mohammad Taghi Fallahi to his family, as well as the release of Mr. Esmail Abdi, the former General Secretary of the ITTA, and all other trade unionists, political prisoners, and prisoners of conscience, incarcerated by the theocratic regime in Iran.

25 January 2022: CODIR notes with deep concern the sudden arrest and detention of Mr. Mohammad Taghi Fallahi, the General Secretary of the Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association (ITTA) in Tehran, on Wednesday 19 January, by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is understood that Mr. Fallahi is being held at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

The arrest comes amidst the ‘high tide’ and new round of a hugely popular and successful campaign of strikes and public protests waged by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA) has been waging since early-December 2021 in defence of jobs, pay, conditions of service, and the future of the state education sector in Iran.

In a statement released just after the arrest of Mr. Fallahi, the CCITTA confirmed, “Mohammad Taghi Fallahi – the popular and patient General Secretary of the ITTA (Tehran) – was transferred to Evin Prison one hour ago to serve his [suspended] sentence. But imprisonment, sackings from jobs, and threats, do not create any weakening in the resolve of teachers to seek justice. What will the authorities do with the inevitable emergence of new recruits [for our ranks]!”

Mr. Fallahi, a prominent and veteran activist in the ITTA, has long been on the radar of the Islamic Republic’s repressive intelligence and security agencies and, in mid-August 2019, was handed a suspended sentence of eight months’ imprisonment with ten lashes as punishment for “undermining law and order” merely on account of his principled and legitimate trade union activities.

On 25 October 2019 (three weeks before a wave of protests and major unrest swept across Iran, followed by a brutal regime response), six-hundred teachers, serving and retired, signed a statement against Mr. Fallahi’s conviction. Part of this statement referred to his conviction being unconstitutional: “The Iranian Teacher’s Trade Association is a legal institution, and according to Article 20 of the Constitution, all cultural gatherings across the country are completely legal.” Thus, the regime’s citing of Article 27, regarding the imprisonment of “class actors”, in its convicting of Mr. Fallahi, was undoubtedly an abuse of the Constitution as well as a crime under Article 26 of the country’s Islamic Punishment Act.

Mr. Fallahi was then arrested by the security forces attached to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) on 8 February 2020 because of his trade union activities, including his leading of an ITTA campaign for fairer salaries, better conditions of service for teachers, and a progressive education system in Iran. He was brought by the security forces back to his address while it was searched, during which his laptop computer and hard drive were confiscated. Following this, he was taken to Evin Prison to begin a six-month sentence of imprisonment summarily handed down by the judiciary. Meanwhile, Islamic Republic intelligence agents repeatedly threatened Mr. Fallahi’s family, warning them that they had “no right to communicate the news of his arrest or follow up his case with the judiciary section at Evin Prison.” Mr. Fallahi’s interrogation began within moments of his transfer to section 1A of Evin Prison, a ward for prisoners held on ‘national security’ grounds. He was only released after a binding-over order on further political activity and payment of a fifty million toman (around two-thousand pounds) bail on 27 February 2020.

The re-arrest of Mr. Fallahi last week was utterly groundless and a clear indication of the regime’s desperation in the face of a popular protest movement that shows no sign of slowing down or dying away. It is clear that his ordeal is intended to send a message to the ITTA – as well as all other trade union activists, their supporters, and protestors – in the vain hope that they might desist from their current actions. Nevertheless, there are grave concerns for Mr. Fallahi’s safety and wellbeing.

CODIR supports the righteous and legitimate campaign being waged by Iranian teachers for due recognition to be afforded to their profession through the payment of higher wages; better terms and conditions; the instituting of a bona fide system of job classification and grading; and the proper allocation of resources to a currently neglected and crumbling state education infrastructure.

CODIR applauds the CCITTA’s decision to follow up its earlier protest actions by launching a new round of strikes and sit-ins by teachers in schools across Iran on Saturday 29- Sunday 30th January. These will be followed by mass protest rallies on Monday 31st January in front of the parliament, provincial headquarters, and local education offices in Tehran, all provincial capitals and all towns and cities

CCITTA banner announcing the nationwide protest by teachers

CODIR is appalled by the Islamic Republic’s cynical and cruel exploiting of its draconian laws and Kafkaesque courts in a blatant attempt to break the current cycle of industrial unrest and hold off the growing swell of popular discontent in Iran. CODIR calls for the immediate and unconditional return of Mr. Mohammad Taghi Fallahi to his family, as well as the release of Mr. Esmail Abdi, the former General Secretary of the ITTA, and all other trade unionists, political prisoners, and prisoners of conscience, incarcerated by the theocratic regime in Iran. Accordingly, we implore trade unions in Britain – particularly – to issue messages of solidarity with the Iranian teachers in their time of need, and letters of protest to the Iranian Embassy. [ Please inform CODIR of the action you take in relation to this campaign. Thank you]

Jane Green

National Campaigns Officer


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