Esmail Abdi.
Esmail Abdi.

Iran: Leading teacher unionist arrested again

published 22 April 2020 updated 10 October 2023

Education International and UK’s NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union have condemned the re-arrest of Tehran education union leader Esmail Abdi.

Released on furlough on 17 March 2020, Mr Abdi had to report to prison on 21 April and was kept in detention. This is obviously dangerous given the uncontained spread of COVID19 in Iran and the particularly poor health conditions in detention centres.

Mr Abdi has been mostly held in detention in the Evin prison since June 2015 when he led teacher marches in Tehran and applied for a visa to participate in the Education International World Congress. Education International and Amnesty International have campaigned on his behalf ever since.

Education International also campaigns for the unconditional and immediate release of another Tehran teacher association leader, Mr Mohammad Habibi. He was arrested on 3 March 2018, initially condemned to ten and a half years prison (commuted to seven and a half) and 74 lashes. He was condemned for pressing for improved learning and teaching conditions in Iran. A few days ago, the family of Habibi received his termination letter from the education service (although is he far from retirement age) and a meagre severance pay.

This and the new arrest of Abdi and of many human rights activists is seen as a new wave of repression aimed to keep heads down before May Day. “We condemn the suppression of rights of dedicated teachers and union leaders and will advocate tirelessly for their release,” stressed David Edwards, Education International General Secretary.