Aziz Ghasemzadeh

MEK: Iran Persecutes Teachers

Aziz Ghasemzadeh

(NCRI) and (PMOI / MEK Iran): “Teachers’ union activists like Aziz Ghasemzadeh are accused of ‘endangering national security.’ The authorities are cracking down on them,” human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan told DW.

 

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), reported that the spokesman for the teachers’ union, Aziz Ghasemzadeh was arrested conducting a phone interview with a Persian-language broadcaster.

The authorities are cracking down on teachers

“Union activists like Aziz Ghasemzadeh are accused of ‘endangering national security.’ The authorities are cracking down on them,” human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan told DW.

“Ghasemzadeh is a teacher and a respected musician and singer. He is an educated and cultured person who is peacefully campaigning for more social justice and better working conditions. That is not forbidden under our constitution.”

Dehghan, who is from Iran’s capital, Tehran, represents political detainees in the country. Dehghan is concerned about activists being detained arbitrarily. He said the goal is to intimidate them into not organizing themselves.

The general discontent in Iran is very high

“The general discontent in Iran is very high, and any protest action has the potential to mobilize many people against the political system. That’s why, from the government’s point of view, any protest must be nipped in the bud.”

Aziz Ghasemzadeh had spoken at a protest gathering the day before his detention, right before the start of the new school year in Iran. More than 40 cities throughout the country held similar protests. The campaigners were advocating for improved working conditions and higher pay for teachers employed by the Ministry of Education.

Teachers have been without pay for months

Many of them have been without pay for months. After lengthy negotiations, the previous government of President Rouhani agreed to revise teachers’ pay in view of the country’s poor economic circumstances.

Teachers’ salaries were supposed to be increased by 20 percent to 27 percent. In Iran, however, the inflation rate in 2020 was 36.5% higher than the previous year. This year it is predicted to increase by about 40%.

The average cost of living in Iran climbed by more than 30% last year, according to the country’s statistics agency. “We are asking for our rights,” Aziz Ghasemzadeh said in a speech that rapidly went viral on the internet. The activists demanded not only equal pay but also immediate investment in renovating old school buildings and increasing the number of staff.

We are not going to give up

“Political leaders believe that arresting union activists will solve the problem. They are mistaken. We are not going to give up “In his speech, Ghasemzadeh said. He is now one of at least 15 Iranian teachers who have been imprisoned for their involvement in the union.

Esmail Abdi, a math instructor, is one of the most well-known prisoners. Abdi, a member of the Iranian Teachers‘ Trade Association’s executive board, has been in prison since November 2016. He’s been charged with “gathering information with the aim of endangering national security” and “propaganda against the political system.” which is the regime’s typical charge.

Campaigned for global solidarity

Education International, a labor organization, has frequently called for Esmail Abdi’s release and campaigned for global solidarity with him and other Iranian teachers imprisoned.

“That’s because they don’t have to fear any serious consequences,” Amnesty International’s Iran expert Raha Bahreini told DW. Bahreini noted that the United Nations has designated a special rapporteur on Iran’s human rights situation, who documents the country’s human rights infractions.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights are both signed by Iran. Every person has the right to create and join trade unions by their own free choice for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests, as guaranteed by the treaties.

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