Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Sunday, August 26, 2018, Mohammad Habibi’s medical leave from prison was cut short when he was returned to detention before receiving adequate care.
The union activist and member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran was being treated at Imam Khomeini Hospital. He was recently sentenced to a ten-year prison term and 74 lashings.
Sedigheh Pakzamir, a close associate of Habibi, stated in an online post that it took 45 days for prison authorities to act on the order for Habibi to be transferred to an outside medical clinic. When they finally carried out the order — which stipulates that Habibi receive medical attention — he was returned to the prison without receiving any.
Pakzamir added that Habibi is symptomatic for lung and urinary tract infections. As such, the doctor recommended he undergo a battery of specialized medical tests, including a sonography, on Monday.
Fatemeh Saeidi, Member of Iran’s Parliament (representing Tehran) and of the Parliament’s Education and Research Commission, previously stated that Habibi was being held in a ward housing violent criminals, and that a letter outlining his predicament containing a request for his sentence to be reduced was signed by a number of Parliament representatives and addressed to the head of the Judiciary.
On August 4, 2018, Habibi’s attorney Amir Raeisiyan reported that his client was sentenced to ten and a half years’ imprisonment. Given that the maximum cumulative prison sentence for all of Habibi’s charges would be seven and a half years, he cannot be required to serve longer. Habibi was subjected to the additional penalties of 74 lashings, a two-year ban on civic activities, and a two-year travel ban.
Prior to this, the International Trade Union Confederation issued a letter to the Islamic Republic in objection to Habibi’s heavy sentence, demanding his immediate and unconditional release. Education International, a teachers’ union federation, has also protested the verdict and demanded Habibi’s release.
In a statement, the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates protested Habibi’s sentence, calling it a litmus test for the justice meted by the Iranian Judiciary. This council demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Habibi, stating, “It is as if the judge intended with his verdict to put society on guard, sending the message that if you pursue justice, you will face prison and lashings.”
On July 16, 2018, over 100 teachers, all alumni of Shahid Rajai University, met with a Mr. Abdi, the Minister of Education’s advisor in Union Affairs, and delivered him a letter in defense of Mohammad Habibi. In the letter, the signatories expressed “great concerns regarding Mr. Habibi’s health”, and requested he be transferred to Evin Prison in accordance with his charges. It also implored the Ministry of Education to pursue the demands of the letter to the furthest degree possible, and to keep the signatories and Habibi’s family abreast of their findings.
A letter signed by 6,500 teachers and civil society activists demanding the release of Mohammad Habibi was delivered to Iranian Parliament on July 25, 2018.
On May 10, 2018, the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates urged teachers, be they retired or employed, to assemble in protest across the country. In Tehran, several of those who responded to the call were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison; all but Mr. Habibi were released on bail three days later.
Mohammad Habibi was previously arrested at his place of employment on March 3, 2018 and jailed for 44 days. On April 15, 2018, he was released on a bail of approximately $50,000 USD.
Mohammad Habibi is currently imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison, and according to a letter from his HR office, is no longer receiving his salary.