By Kayhan Life Staff

Iranian security forces have arrested 230 teachers and union activists since April 21, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said on June 21.

The Judiciary reportedly summoned 23 people over the period, and interrogators have allegedly extracted “forced confessions” from dozens of imprisoned teachers, HRANA added.

By Behnam Mohammadi.

Teachers Protest in Iran. KL./

According to HRANA, teachers have held protests in 85 cities across Iran in the past two months, calling on the government to “release imprisoned teachers,” implement the “Teachers’ Pay Structure Act,” make education free for students under Article 30 of the Constitution and limit the size of classrooms to maximum 16 students.

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If enacted, the “Teachers’ Pay Structure Act” would raise the salaries of working teachers to equal 80 percent of the salaries of university faculties and adjust the pensions of retired teachers according to the cost-of-living index.

Under Article 30 of the Islamic Republic Constitution, the state must “make educational facilities free for all up to the secondary school, and expand free facilities for higher education up to the limits of the country’s capacity.”

Most of the teachers were arrested during protests on April 21, May 12, and May 16, HRANA explained. Some 70 teachers were arrested and held in detention centers on April 21 and May 12. However, most of them were released after a few hours.

According to several union activists, dozens of teachers have reportedly received threatening phone calls from security police and the Ministry of Intelligence. Other protesting teachers have been allegedly mistreated and even brutalized by the police and security forces.

More recently, security forces arrested Aram Ebrahimi, a teachers’ union activist, on June 22 in Sanandaj, the capital of the central province of Sanandaj. Mr. Ebrahimi is held at an unknown location.

Security forces arrested and imprisoned several other union activists on June 16 in Sanandaj, including Ghiyas Nemati, Salah Haji-Mirzaei, Mohammad Reza Moradi, Reza Tahmasebi, and Behzad Ghavami.

Security forces reportedly arrested a teacher, Shahriar Naderi, in Kermanshah, the capital of the western province of Kermanshah, on June 22. It is unclear where Mr. Naderi is being held.

On June 22, the prosecutor’s office in Divandarreh, in the western province of Kurdistan, remanded four imprisoned teachers in custody for 10 days.

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According to union activists, 10 imprisoned teachers at Saghez Central Prison in Kurdistan Province have been on hunger strike since June 19. They are Khaled Abdollahi, Soleyman Abdi, Ahmad Ghaderi, Taher Hamedi, Zahed Moradi, Hesam Khakpour, Hassan Rahimian, Esmail Reyhani, Amanj Amini, and Mohsen Shokouhi.

According to the Coordination Council of Iranian Cultural Associations, two imprisoned teachers, Rasoul Bedaghi and Jafar Ebrahimi, have been transferred to solitary confinement at Block 240 of Tehran’s Evin Prison. They have had no contact with their families.

The Coordination Council of Iranian Cultural Associations added that the families of Mr. Bedaghi and Mr. Ebrahimi have had no news about them for the past two weeks and are very concerned about their welfare.

The Ministry of Intelligence’s agents arrested Bedaghi and Ebrahimi along with Mohammad Habibi, the spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, on April 30.

Earlier in May, Iranian authorities arrested two European tourists, both members of the federations of teachers’ unions in France, at Imam Khomeini Airport.

Iranian state TV broadcast a report produced by the Ministry of Intelligence, alleging that the two French nationals had links to the protesting teachers and four members of the teachers’ union; Eskandar Lotfi, Massoud Nikkhah, Shaban Mohammadi, and Rasoul Bedaghi.

The arrest prompted teachers’ union activists to release a statement condemning the “inhumane” detention of the French nationals.

In a press release on June 15, a group of experts, including Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, complained about “a violent crackdown against civil society in Iran, including members of workers’ unions and teachers arrested for protesting against their low salaries and poor working conditions, and urged those responsible for using excessive force to be held to account through comprehensive and independent investigations.”

“We are alarmed at the recent escalation of allegedly arbitrary arrests of teachers, labor rights defenders, and union leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders, and other civil society actors,” the experts said.

Iran Arrests Two Human Rights Activists in Wave of New Detentions 

Link to the Farsi page

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