Iran’s Teachers’ Coordinating Council calls on the ILO to support justice for detained Iranian trade unionists 

An open letter to Delegates at the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference Geneva, 27 May-11 June 2022

We, the undersigned, are calling on the Delegate at the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference, and in particular the workers’ delegates, about the recent brutal repression of teachers and other trade union activists in Iran. 

Over the years, especially in recent months, the Iranian government’s economic policies have created widespread poverty and misery for the general public, especially workers. This situation has created a wide class divide, shrinking the livelihood of the general public, and eventually led to public protests. It is unfortunate that instead of responding appropriately and solving the problems, the government has reacted brutally to these legal protests, and their response has been nothing but widespread repression. One of the various aspects of the crackdown is the attack on and arrest of well-known union activists, teachers, workers and many other protesting people. Recently, in a false scenario, a “pseudo-report” was published on state radio and television (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) against well-known teachers and workers’ activists who are the legal and respected representatives of their sectors. In this “pseudo-report”, a desperate and baseless attempt was made to accuse Iranian trade union activists of collaborating with foreign “spies”. The release of this government-made plot against trade union activists immediately met with a wave of protest and disgust throughout Iran.

We are asking delegates at the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference to condemn the Iranian government’s escalating violation of all teachers’s rights, workers’ rights and in particular the violation of the right to association and the violation of the right to peaceful demonstration. This is an urgent matter because since May Day, a number of trade union activists have been arrested and are being interrogated and charged with serious but completely false and baseless national security charges only to supress the independent trade union movement and the rightful protests of the toiling and oppressed people in Iran.

These violation of fundamental workers’ rights are taking place while the government of Iran is part of the Governing Body of the International labour Office.

Many members of the teachers’ trade associations, Tehran bus workers’ syndicate, and members of other independent trade union organizations, as well as the protesting people, have been persecuted, arrested and incarcerated for engaging in legitimate workers’ and trade union activities. We are calling on the delegates to condemn the Iranian government’s repression of the independent trade unions and their members.

We are asking the delegates at the International Labour Conference to convey to the government delegates from Iran their denunciation of these repressive measures and call on the Iranian government to take all necessary measures for the immediate and unconditional release of all teachers and other trade union activists, and stop repressions of workers, trade unionists, and protesting people, and respect freedom of association and trade union rights under ILO Convention 87 and 98 and The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. It is necessary to emphasize that, unfortunately, the independent trade unions of Iran do not have any representatives at the International Labour Conference, and the “delegates” who are the representatives of the “trade unions” participating from Iran are also sponsored by the government. 

The government of Iran must immediately and unconditionally release all jailed teachers and trade union activists who have been arrested since May Day 2022, including Rasoul Bodaghi, Eskandar Lofi, Reza Shahabi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Hassan Saeidi, Anisha Asadollahi, Reyhaneh Ansarinejad, Mohammad Habibi, Keyvan Mohtadi, Shaban Mohammadi, Masoud Nikkhah, Reza Amanifar,  Hadi Sadeghzadeh, Mohammad Alishvandi, Asghar_Amirzadegan, Mehrdad Yaghmaei, Afshin Razmjoo, Gholamreza Gholamikandazi, Hamid Abbasi, Abdolrazaq Amiri, Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Mohsen Bahrami, Morteza Mohammadi and many others like Hashem Khastar, who has been in prison for many years, Despite his illness and old age, he is not even given medical leave.

We also strongly demand an end to the ongoing detention and harassment of other trade union and labour activists serving sentences, including the imprisoned teacher Esmail Abdi, who is currently serving another 10 years in prison after completing a six-year sentence, who was charged in 2010, and Hashem Khastar, who has been in prison for many years, and despite his illness and old age he is not even given medical leave. Moreover, the sentences and charges against the following women teachers, who have already been incarcerated for protesting against the government’s educational policies, must be annulled and they must be released immediately: Zeinab Hamrang, Alieh Aghdamdoost, Haleh Safarzadeh, Nahid Fath’alian, Nosrat Beheshti, Masoumeh Askari and Mojgan Bagheri. 

We, the signatories of this letter, also specifically request the labor delegations participating at the International Labour Conference to include the following urgent items on the agenda of the meeting, and we insist to do their best to approve and implement them:
–       Unconditional and immediate drop of all charges against imprisoned trade unionists, and release of all detainees.

–       To oblige the Iranian government to respect and uphold the rights of all workers including teachers to organize and to freedom of association and freedom of speech including the right to peaceful assembly, without fear of state intervention.

–       Considering dispatching an international delegation to Iran under the coordination of the Working Group of the International Labour Organization and the global trade union federations to examine the labor force conditions in Iran, meet with independent trade unions and visit imprisoned trade union activists and their families

–       Requesting the dismissal of the representatives of the Iranian government from the governing board of the International Labor Organization and not supporting their re-election in this board due to the continuous violation of international labour conventions and lack of accountability for the ongoing repression of trade unions and labour activists in Iran. 

Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations 

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