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Teachers Union Protests Repression Aimed At Silencing Educators

A group of teachers protest in Qazvin, October 5, 2017

A teachers’ trade union association in Iran is protesting what it calls the repression of teachers by security agents across the country.

In a statement published on January 31, the Teachers Trade Unions Coordination Council (TTUC) criticized the “security approach” of President Hassan Rouhani’s government in response to teachers protesting in the provinces of Esfahan and Lorestan, and other regions of Iran.

“The new approach is a part of the same old tricks used against Iranian teachers. For years, the teachers of this land have suffered illegal banishment, dismissal, and sacking,” the statement said.

On January 18, the TTUC reported that several teachers, both active and retired, had been temporarily detained.

Referring to two teachers from the city of Aligoudarz in Lorestan who were detained for two weeks during the widespread uprising against the establishment, the TTUC welcomed their release on bail.

But the TTUC says the harassment continued. “Confronting teachers did not end. Through a telephone conversation, one of the principals in Aligoudarz was ordered to present himself to the city’s Intelligence Bureau. There, he was beaten and interrogated before being released,” it said.

According to the statement, the Education Ministry’s official in Aligoudarz suspended him whereas he was expected to legally follow up on the case.

Referring to the same case, Teachers Trade Union Center said in a statement published on social media app Telegram, “In an official session with the headmasters of the city, Mojtaba Hassanvand, responsible for intelligence and security affairs of the Ministry of Education’s department in Aligoudarz, described the protesters as rioters...”

A day later, the statement noted, “The principal was summoned to the intelligence and security department of the city where he was interrogated and battered.”

The organization also announced that the principal was dismissed from his job with an order directly coming from education minister.

Rouhani’s administration has yet to respond to the allegations.

The TTUC also addressed Iranian leaders, asking, “Why are you not able to stopp looters of the nation’s assets from escaping the country but capable of repressing the teachers who educate your own children?”

Currently, three prominent members of the TTUC -- Esmail Abdi, Mokhtar Assadi, and Mohsen Omrani -- are in prison while Ali Akbar Baghani lives in exile and Mohmmad Beheshti has been granted furlough.

During the recent protests that took place across the country, the TTUC sympathized with protesters.

In its Telegram statement, it also noted that “untenable management at different levels, improper and illogical planning, as well as widespread abuse of official positions and national structures” were the reasons behind the protests.

No independent union is officially recognized as legal in Iran Many activists affiliated with them are serving prison terms.