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Teachers Call Upon Rouhani for Help


Iran -- Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, jailed member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA-Tehran), undated.

In an open letter to President Hassan Rouhani, Teachers' Union activists from several provinces in Iran have called upon him to dismantle legal and real hurdles blocking union activities and establish a committee to defend activists and stop discrimination against them.

Referring to the Intelligence Ministry’s complaint against the detained spokesman of the Iran’s Teachers' Trade Association, ITTA, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, the signatories appealed to President Rouhani to force the ministry to end filing complaints against teachers.

“By re-arresting teachers' rights activists; Esmaeil Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, Mohssen Omrani and Mokhtar Assadi at the verge of the new educational year, the Judiciary has increased its aversion against the teachers...”, ITTA Telegram Channel quoted the letter, as reading.

Based on the heavy sentences issued against activist teachers, the letter insists, “Iranian teachers’ society has lost almost all of its hope and confidence in the judiciary, yet, it still is expecting to see the president’s action and steps taken toward defending teachers’ rights”.

The signatories have also called upon Rouhani to launch a special committee to look after teachers’ rights and defend them against different kinds of discrimination.

Mahmoud Beheshti-Langroudi believes that his convictions are primarily due to charges brought by the Intelligence Ministry when it operated under conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13) before “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani replaced him in 2013.

Furthermore, the letter appeals to Rouhani to help scrap verdicts against Esmaeil Abdi, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi,Mohssen Omrani and Mokhtar Assadi and give them a chance to defend themselves in an open and competent court.

Earlier, on Wednesday, September 13, Tehran’s Teachers Association had protested detention of its spokesman, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, and demanded his unconditional and immediate release.

Beheshti Langroudi, 57, has been sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to prison, on three occasions in the past ten years.

The ITTA’s spokesman, was taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on September 12, 2017, to serve the sentences that were issued for his peaceful defense of labor rights.

Mahmoud Beheshti-Langroudi believes that his convictions are primarily due to charges brought by the Intelligence Ministry when it operated under conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13) before “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani replaced him in 2013.

“I was expecting [Rouhani’s] Intelligence Ministry to stop persecuting political and civil rights activists, but my summons and other recent harsh actions show that nothing has changed,” he said on social media.

“What we are witnessing in the revolutionary courts, such as the sentences against me, which were issued in a closed session in a matter of minutes, are in no way compatible with Article 168 of the constitution”

“I have warned the Tehran prosecutor’s office that I will go on a dry hunger strike the day I am returned to prison,” cautioned Beheshti-Langroudi in a post on the Telegram on August 28, 2017.

“I am a teacher and a trade union activist and board member of the Teachers’ Trade Association, a lawful organization,” he added.

Beheshti-Langroudi who was convicted in abrief trial behind closed doors, believes the charges against him were politically motivated.

However, on Sunday, September 17, the judiciary’s spokesman insisted that nobody in Iran is imprisoned for their religion or union activities.

According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, CHRI, the teachers’ rights activist, in an interview with Teachers’ and Workers’ Rights Persian language website, asserted, “My demand is completely lawful. Based on Article 168 of the Islamic Republic Constitution, cases like mine should be tried in public in an open court in the presence of a jury.”

“What we are witnessing in the revolutionary courts, such as the sentences against me, which were issued in a closed session in a matter of minutes, are in no way compatible with Article 168,” he added in the interview.

CHRI confirms that based on Article 168, “Political and press offenses will be tried openly and in the presence of a jury, in courts of justice.”

Since his return to Tehran’s notorious prison, Evin, Beheshti-Langroudi has been on hunger strike, pledging to continue it until his 14-year combined prison sentence is reviewed in a public trial.

Labor activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms, CHRI says.

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