Iran: Jailed Teachers Criticize Regime in Open Letter on World Teachers Day
October 5th marked the 70th anniversary of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that established education as a fundamental right. It was also World Teachers Day, a day set aside to honor teachers and their valuable contributions to the future of society.
5 Oct#Iran – Alborz Province
On World Teachers’ Day, teachers’ rights defenders gathered protesting arbitrarily arrested and detained; and sentenced to long prison terms of teachers in #Iran#IraniansWantRegimeChange pic.twitter.com/AhnRuDoCOY
— Nikoo (@nikooamini) October 5, 2018
On this occasion, imprisoned Iranian teachers Esmail Abdi and Mahmoud Beheshti Langeroudi, both of whom are currently detained in Evin Prison, penned an open letter to Iran’s teachers.
The two educators wished Iranian teachers a happy World Teachers Day and then described the ways that teachers’ rights have been trampled by the Iranian regime. They wrote that “the right to independent unions, separated from the government and political parties, the right to protest and go on strike and practice freedom of speech which is the minimum rights of teachers and wage earners have been violated for years by all the administrations of the Islamic Republic.”
Esmail Abdi, a 44-year-old high school teacher, and Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi were both members of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA). Abdi was Secretary General of the organization before he began his six year prison term. Langroudi was the ITTA’s spokesperson. He was given a five-year prison sentence for “assembling and colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the state.”
#Ottawa Oct. 6, 2018, at #ParliamentHill &across from PM office: Iranian-Canadians and #PMOI supporters, standing in solidarity with the Truck Drivers on strike and teacher prisoners in #Iran. #IranProtests #IranRegimeChange #FreeIran #اعتصاب_کامیونداران #معلم #براندازم #جاده pic.twitter.com/yKYroXd7uT
— Narges Ghaffari (@Radioirava) October 7, 2018
MEK sources inside Iran report that teachers live under the poverty line and that those who form unions to stand up for their rights are jailed and prosecuted. According to human rights advocates, a number of teachers are currently imprisoned for exercising their right to protest.
On World Teachers Day, activists held a protest to help draw attention to the plight of these imprisoned teachers. A video on social media shows a female teacher with a sign saying, “Esmail Abdi must be released.” Other protesters can be seen in the video holding pictures of jailed Iranian teachers.
“Every year, the budget ratified for education only suffices to pay for basic expenses and the teachers’ salaries, which are already half the poverty line,” said teachers’ activist Mojgan Bagheri in a September 26th interview with the state-run Salamat News website.
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) April 16, 2015
Seyed Mohammad Javad Abtahi, member of the regime’s Parliament’s Education and Research Committee agreed, adding, “The livelihood of teachers hired by the Education Ministry is also far from decent. Teachers are struggling to earn their living and at the same time fulfill their professional obligations… In a good educational system, teachers must enjoy the most value and importance… However, this has not happened for Iranian teachers and they face a plethora of problems, particularly economic problems.”
Teachers in Iran are paid poverty wages, and most work on temporary contracts. Teachers do not receive benefits, and they frequently go for months without receiving their salaries.