Iranian Activists Stand Up for Dozens of Detained Teachers
New Initiative Calls for an End to Judicial Persecution of Teachers in Iran
(September 26, 2012) The Iranian Judiciary and security apparatus should immediately release teachers imprisoned for their participation in teachers associations. They must also stop all persecution and prosecution of teachers exercising their basic rights to assembly and association, the International Campaign for Human Rights said today. The Campaign gives its full support to a new teachers’ rights initiative, Be Voice of Iranian Teachers.
“This initiative to raise awareness about the condition of teachers in Iran is a valuable effort by Iranian activists. It highlights the worsening situation of those who dedicate their lives to the future of Iran,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.
As the United Nations’ World Teachers’ Day approaches on October 5 and a new school year begins, Be Voice of Iranian Teachers has issued a partial list of nearly 40 teachers who have been detained, imprisoned, and harassed by Iranian officials since 2009.
“The published list of imprisoned teachers is not a complete list, because, fearing persecution by the Intelligence Ministry, some families requested that their relatives’ names be excluded from the list,” Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the activists behind Be Voice of Iranian Teachers, told the Campaign. “Therefore, the list only includes the names of some individuals who have decided to embrace problems with the Intelligence Ministry, and their names are included.”
“Increasing the intensity and the expansion of violence against teachers imposed by the security and judicial organizations…, as well as illegal confrontations with teachers’ trade unions, have caused considerable worries which require serious attention by educational and human rights organizations,” Be Voice of Iranian Teachers writes in its statement accompanying the list of imprisoned teachers.
The list, released September 20, 2012, highlights 39 teachers who have been detained since 2009, including 15 who have been sentenced to prison and 3 who have been sentenced to death. It also describes several others who have been summoned before security, judicial, and police bodies, where many teachers have been interrogated and threatened.
Most of these teachers have been targeted because of their activity and participation in trade unions and organizations, a basic right enumerated in Articles 26 and 27 of the Iranian Constitution and supported in various international treaties signed by the Iranian government. Beginning after trade demonstrations in 2006 and 2007, the Disciplinary Violations Board of the Ministry of Education has handed down hundreds of dismissals and exiles to teachers who participated in the demonstrations.
“These teachers are being systematically targeted and silenced, with strategies ranging from removal from their professional positions to judicial sentencing,” said Ghaemi.
“In our religious lessons, to which Iranian statesmen claim they are committed, it is stated that teaching is the job of prophets. And we put our teachers in prison only because they have trade demands, or object to their low wages, or they have union-related demands,” Shirin Ebadi told the Campaign.
Be Voice of Iranian Teachers is a campaign being launched by Iranian teachers’ rights activists, human rights organizations and activists, journalists, teachers, and lawyers, including 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.