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Teacher's Union Leader Violently Detained, Wife Says

Iranian teachers' rights activist, Mohammad Habibi, undated.
Iranian teachers' rights activist, Mohammad Habibi, undated.

A member of the board of directors of the Teacher’s Trade Association of Tehran was battered and violently detained on Saturday, March 3, his wife has disclosed in an interview with Radio Farda.

Teachers’ rights activist Mohammad Habibi was arrested in front of the school where he teaches.

His wife, Khadijeh Pakzamir, told Radio Farda’s Vahid Pourostad, “Habibi was beaten up again when the security agents dragged him to ransack his home.

“I have not received any information about my husband’s whereabouts and health condition since they took him away,” Ms. Pakzamir said, adding, “About mid-day, when the children were leaving the school, several plainclothesmen, without presenting their IDs, approached my husband, waved an alleged arrest warrant and told him he was under arrest.”

Habibi explained to the agents that he was expecting his wife and it would be better to wait for her, Ms. Pakzamir explained, noting, “The plainclothesmen dismissed his request, used pepper spray and forced him to get into their unmarked car. Inside the car, Mr. Habibi tried to resist, but they threatened him with a handgun and handcuffed him.”

Habibi was taken to his home and “Right in front of the house and then inside the building, they violently battered Mr. Habibi to the extent that our neighbors called the Police”, his wife said.

Meanwhile, the agents forced their way into the house and started searching the place.

“When I arrived, I saw Mr. Habibi handcuffed and with a badly swollen eye. He told me what had happened, while the agents insisted that he had been responsible for being battered,” Ms. Pakzamir elaborated.

Who were the agents and where did they come from? Mrs. Habibi said, “They were plainclothesmen presenting a piece of paper with the logo of Qarargah-e Tharollah (one of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ intelligence units).”

However, the reason behind Habibi’s detention is not yet clear. “Mr. Habibi’s detention has two aspects of importance for us and the teachers. Firstly, his activities have always been peaceful and legal; that is why we do not understand why he was arrested. Secondly, the agents’ violent behavior is not justified”, Ms. Pakzamir complained.

Mohammad Habibi has been a well-respected teacher for the past eighteen years, working officially for the Ministry of Education. Reportedly, he had already been threatened by intelligence agents for his trade union related activities and organizing assemblies.

After his arrest his relatives contacted the justice department and judiciary officials to find out about Mr. Habibi’s health condition and whereabouts, but they did not yet receive any response.

In her interview with Radio Farda, Ms. Pakzamir insisted that she was deeply worried for her husband’s life. Recently, at least six prisoners lost their lives behind bars in Tehran and city of Arak, central Iran. Authorities claimed all of them committed suicide.

The Islamic Republic does not recognize independent trade unions and treats their activists as “dissidents” directed by “foreign enemies”.