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Issue #1692      July 8, 2015

Iran

Union official seized after being invited for interview

The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (Codir) is calling for the release of arrested Iranian Teachers’ Association general secretary Ismail Abdi.

Mr Abdi was detained on June 21 as he attempted to travel to neighbouring Armenia en route to the annual Education International trade union conference in Canada.

Border guards prevented him from crossing and confiscated his passport, then told him to report to Evin prison, whose political prisoners’ wing is known as Evin University for the number of intellectuals who have been incarcerated there.

Nearly 70 teachers accompanied Abdi to an interview with the authorities, worried that they might arrest him – fears which turned out to be justified.

“The detention of Ismail Abdi cannot be justified on any basis according to the laws of natural justice,” said Codir assistant general secretary Jamshid Ahmadi.

“International pressure upon the Iranian government is vital if we are to achieve Mr Abdi’s release.”

Abdi had already been in trouble with the Islamic Republic over protests in May by teachers demanding better salaries, improved conditions of service and job security.

During the protests he was summoned to the prison to be informed that a 10-year suspended sentence relating to a two-day strike in January would be applied unless he resigned from the union.

Abdi’s arrest came just a day after the five labour affairs staff of the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) were summarily sacked by chief executive Massoud Heydari.

News on Iranian social media indicates that there were major disagreements between ILNA’s labour affairs group and the management, especially on editorial interference, gagging orders and pressure for self-censorship.

Ahmadi called on President Hassan Rouhani to “fulfil the promises he made during his 2013 election campaign to act on the legitimate demands of Iranian workers for a decent living wage and the right to form, join and belong to a trade union of their choice.”

Morning Star

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