Iran: Release teacher union leaders voicing legitimate workers’ demands!

published 13 September 2023 updated 14 September 2023

Education International (EI) calls on its member organisations to urge the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release jailed Iranian teacher unionists and to respect trade union rights.

For years, Iranian teachers have been voicing their legitimate demands for decent working conditions and the recognition of their fundamental rights and freedoms as workers and as citizens. Since May Day 2022, several teacher union leaders have been unjustifiably arrested, detained, and tortured for conducting peaceful trade union activities authorised by national and international laws.

In recent weeks, Iranian authorities cracked down on teachers and their union representatives to suppress a resurgence of last year’s rallies as the first anniversary of the extrajudicial killing of Jina Mahsa Amini will be marked on 16 September.

Education International is particularly concerned about the situation of the following individuals, listed by affiliation to regional teacher associations. All provincial and county teachers’ associations belong to the national umbrella Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, which is EI’s affiliate:

  • Alborz provincial Teachers’ Trade Association: Masoud Farhikhteh
  • Tehran Teachers’ Trade Association (including Eslamshahr county): Esmail Abdi, Rasoul Bodahi, Mohamad Darkesh, Jafar Ebrahimi, Mohammad Habibi, Zeinab Hamrang, Farzaneh Nazaranpour, Fatemeh Tadrisi, Mohammad Taghi Falahi, and Sara Siah Pour
  • Kurdistan provincial Teachers’ Trade Association:
  1. Diwandareh county Teachers’ Trade Association: Omid Shahmohamadi
  2. Marivan county association: Shiva Amelirad, Eskander Lotfi, Shaban Mohammadi, Tahsin Mostafa, Massoud Nik Khah, and Sayvan Solaymani.
  3. Sanandaj Teachers’ Trade Association: Loghman Afzali, Mokhtar Asadi, and Majid Karimi
  4. Saqez county Teachers’ Trade Association: Solaiman Abdi
  • Bushehr provincial Teachers’ Trade Association: Mahmoud Melaki
  • Khorasan Razavi province Mashhad county Teachers’ Trade Association: Hashem Khastar and Ateke Rajabi
  • Khuzestan provincial Teachers’ Trade Association: Pirouz Naami
  • Isfahan province Shahreza county Teachers’ Trade Association: Hamid Rahmati
  • Gilan provincial Teachers’ Trade Association: Anoush Adeli, Fariba Anami, Aziz Ghasemzadeh, Hasan Nazarian and Mahmoud Sedighipoor
  • Fars provincial Teachers’ Trade Association: Mohammad Ali Zahmatkesh, Abdolrezagh Amiri, Asghar Amirzadegan, Moghan Bagheri, Zahra Esfandyari, Mehdi Fathi, Abolfal Khoran, Gholamreza Gholami Kondazi, Iraj Rahnama and Afshin Razmjoo
  • Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari province and Shahrekord Teachers' Trade Activist: Mohammad Saeedi Abul al-Shaghaqi
  • Khorasan Shomali province Esfarayen county Teachers' Trade Activist: Saeid Motahari

These union leaders have faced a series of severe violations of their rights since May 2022, including:

  • Dismissals from teaching positions
  • Demotions and salary reductions
  • Arrests and detentions, often in solitary confinement for extended periods
  • Torture to extract false confessions and force renunciation of union work.
  • Prolonged detention beyond the initial prison sentences
  • Exorbitant bail amounts, some as high as $50,000 USD, for temporary release
  • Inadequate access to medical treatment
  • Limited access to legal counsel
  • Restricted family visitation rights
  • Spreading of false information about them on social media
  • Harassment of their family members
  • Facing unreasonable charges
  • Transfer of judicial cases to the Islamic Revolutionary Court, typically reserved for highly political cases.

These actions represent various forms of illegal and unsubstantiated harassment against these union leaders.

EI invites your organisation to take action now in support of our Iranian colleagues

  • Click here to sign the petition on LabourStart.
  • Send a letter of protest to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran asking for the release of jailed teacher unionists and for the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country. You can use this model letter.

H.E. Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran: info_leader@leader.ir or contact@leader.ir

To EI: headoffice@ei-ie.org

  • Please forward your letter to the Iranian diplomatic representatives accredited to your country and to the permanent UN mission. Please also forward a copy to EI.

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN: iran@un.int

  • Inform your government about the trade union rights violations in Iran.
  • Send messages of solidarity which EI will transmit to its affiliate the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations and to the families of the detained colleagues. headoffice@ei-ie.org
  • Share messages on social media to give visibility to the situation of Iranian teachers and unionists. Feel free to use the following samples:

Teachers belong in their schools and communities, not in prison! We strongly condemn the arrest of Iranian teacher trade unionists and demand their immediate and unconditional release.

#IranTeachers #WeAreTheirVoice #WomanLifeFreedom @CoordinatingA

Educators in #Iran are peacefully demanding better conditions for teachers and students. Their rights must be respected. We stand in solidarity with teachers jailed in connection with union activism and demand their release!

#IranTeachers #WeAreTheirVoice @CoordinatingA

We join @eduint and condemn the crackdown on Iranian teacher trade unionists and demand their immediate and unconditional release. The targeted repression against teachers in #Iran must end.

#IranTeachers #WeAreTheirVoice @CoordinatingA

Thank you in advance for your solidarity in support of our Iranian colleagues.