Imprisoned Teachers’ Rights Activist Returned to Evin Prison After Three-Day Hospitalization
Update: Esmail Abdi ended his hunger strike on June 6, 2017 after a “positive” meeting in Evin Prison, according to a statement posted by the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA) on its Telegram channel. The statement said the meeting took place between Abdi, his lawyer Amir Salar Davoudi, assistant prosecutor Hajimoradi (first name unknown), two members of the ITTA’s board of directors and Abdi’s mother on June 16, 2017.
“Teachers reserve the right to pursue Abdi’s demands and look forward to hearing positive news from the relevant authorities in the coming days,” added the statement. A source close to the negotiations told CHRI that Abdi agreed to end the strike after hearing all sides and pleas from the ITTA’s representatives.
Prominent teachers’ rights advocate Esmail Abdi, who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days, was transported from Evin Prison to a hospital in Tehran on June 3, 2017, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
An informed source told CHRI on May 29 that Abdi was suffering from severe kidney pains and a sharp drop in blood pressure, but refused at the time to be transferred to Imam Khomeini Hospital with chains on his hands and feet. The condition he was ultimately transported to the hospital in is unknown.
“Esmail went on a hunger strike to complain about the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps interfering in his case and attacked the judiciary for not being impartial and so those two bodies are not happy with him,” added the source. “But the person who has treated him worst has been Mr. Hajmoradi (first name unknown), the assistant prosecutor.
Abdi received specialized hospital treatment outside the prison on June 3 before being returned to his cell on June 5, according to the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), which reported his latest condition on their Telegram channel.
Abdi, the former secretary general of the ITTA, went on hunger strike on April 30 to demand an end to the prosecution of trade unionists and civil rights’ activists for their peaceful activities.
“Amidst deafening calls from officials for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and civil liberties in the post-nuclear deal (2015) era, we are witnessing the arrest of board members of teachers’ guilds and independent workers’ organizations, who are put on trials that last a few minutes and condemned on the basis of identical charges such as ‘acting against national security’ and ‘propaganda against the state,’” wrote Abdi in a letter announcing his hunger strike on April 30.
According to Article 235 of the State Prisons Organization’s Regulations, transferring prisoners to medical facilities in chains “is not permitted unless in necessary cases determined by the head of the prison.”
The former high school mathematics teacher was arrested on June 27, 2015 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization a week after being barred from leaving Iran to attend an international teachers’ conference in Canada.
In February 2016, Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Abdi to six years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security” for his peaceful activism in support of labor rights. The verdict was upheld upon appeal, under pressure from the IRGC, and he began serving his sentence in November 2016.
An online petition signed by more than 15,000 people calling for the release of the imprisoned teachers’ rights leader was delivered to the judiciary and the office of the president on May 24, 2017.
“Mr. Abdi is not a thief, murderer, drug dealer, embezzler, foreign spy or traitor to his country,” said the petition addressed to Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani. “He is a trade union activist elected by the teachers of Tehran according to the laws and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Mr. Larijani! The teachers of Iran expect you will take the necessary step to free Mr. Abdi as soon as possible,” added the petition.