On 8 February, Education International joins trade unions all over the world for a Global Action Day in support of Iranian teachers and workers in their struggle for decent working conditions, union rights, democracy and freedom. Education International calls on its member organisations to show solidarity with the labour and democracy movements in Iran.
On this Global Action Day, Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to:
- immediately and unconditionally release all workers and unionists detained in connection with their union activities;
- immediately and unconditionally release students, teachers and other citizens detained for their participation in peaceful pro-democracy protests;
- guarantee and protect the right to freedom of association and assembly for all citizens.
Iranian teachers have long been advocating for their right to self-organize, better working conditions and free quality public education for all. They have also been at the forefront of pushing back against the increasing assaults of privatization on the education system. The teachers’ legitimate demands have consistently been met with intimidation, repression and violence.
On May Day 2022 again, a wave of repression targeted teachers all over the country. More than 230 were arrested on baseless and false national security charges, in violation of their rights to freedom of association, to organise, and to freedom of speech. The authorities were desperate to stop the peaceful trade union demonstrations over teachers’ poor wages, the inadequate education budget and the imprisonment of teacher trade unionists.
The death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish-Iranian woman killed by the Iranian morality police on 16 September 2022, has sparked nationwide protests in the country since September. The response of the Islamic regime to the Iranian people’s aspirations to freedom and democracy was brutal. Hundreds of people have been killed, including 70 children. More than 18,000 people have been arrested and subjected to torture. Four protestors have been executed after sham trials, and many more are at risk of execution. The Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA) was the first to openly call upon educators and students to go on strike in support of Iranians fighting for democracy and human rights.
According to the CCITTA, at least ten teachers’ rights defenders and members of provincial teacher trade associations, remain currently arbitrarily detained, including:
- Esmail ABDI: Mathematics teacher and former General Secretary of the Tehran Teachers’ Trade Association. Detained since 2015 in the Evin prison and adopted as Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
- Rasoul BODAGHI: Board Member of the Eslamshahr Teachers’ Trade Association and General Secretary of the CCITTA. Condemned to 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment in October 2022.
- Jafar EBRAHIMI: Board Member of the Tehran Teachers’ Trade Association and Inspector of the CCITTA. Condemned to 5 years of imprisonment in October 2022.
- Mohammad HABIBI: Teacher and Board Member of the Tehran Teachers’ Trade Association. Sentenced to 3 years and 7 months of imprisonment in October 2022.
- Masoud FARHIKHTEH: Board Member of the Eslamshahr Teachers’ Trade Association and co-chair of the CCITTA. Arrested in May and in December 2022, currently held in solitary confinement in the Evin prison.
- Mehdi FATHI: History teacher and member of the Teachers’ Trade Association in the Fars province. Arrested in June 2022 and sentenced to 8 years prison.
- Hashem KHASTAR: Retired teacher and Board member of the Teachers Trade Association in Mashhad. Detained since July 2022.
- Eskander LOTFI: Board Member of the Teachers Trade Association of Mariwan, Kurdistan province, and Spokesperson for the CCITTA. Arrested in October 2022 and currently released on bail as he awaits a new trial and possible conviction.
- Shiva MAFAKHERI: Mathematics teacher and member of the Teacher Trade Association in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province. Arrested around mid-November, her whereabouts is currently unknown.
- Hamid RAHMATI: Retired teacher and member of the Teacher’ Trade Association in Shahreza, Isfahan Province. Arrested in October 2022.
In November 2022, the EI Executive Board adopted a resolution in support of Iranian women and girls in Iran in their struggle for rights and freedom. EI had previously adopted a resolution on Iran in December 2021, demanding respect for the "rights of teachers and education workers to organise and to freedom of association and freedom of speech including the right to peaceful assembly, without fear of intervention by the authorities."
As the voice of teachers and education workers around the world, Education International stands in solidarity with the teachers and people of Iran and will continue to support their fight for rights and democracy. We are their voice!