Teacher Union Activist Esmail Abdi Remains Detained for Months Despite Retrial Approval

HRANA, Human Rights Activists News Agency – Esmail (Esmaeil) Abdi, a teacher union activist, continues to be held in Kachooie Prison, Karaj, for over seven months after his request for a retrial was granted.

Monireh Abdi, his wife, shared with HRANA that “Despite the Supreme Court’s approval for a retrial, judicial officials are refusing to grant him bail. Seven months have passed, and Branch 29 of the Revolutionary Court has yet to review the case.”

“Abdi is currently confined in the military ward of Kachooie Prison. After repeated requests, the judicial authorities offered him a five-day furlough on a bail amount of one billion tomans. However, Abdi declined this leave, pointing out that since the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, he should be released on bail as per the law.”
Abdi’s retrial request was accepted by the Supreme Court on November 16, 2022.

On June 27, 2015, Abdi was arrested and interrogated for several hours at Evin Courthouse when he inquired about the reason for being prohibited from leaving the country. Following six months of detention, in March of the subsequent year, he was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on charges of “propaganda against the regime and assembly and collusion against national security,” with five years being enforceable.

Previously, Abdi had received a ten-year suspended sentence, intended to last for five years. However, during the last months of his five-year sentence, the court reactivated the suspended sentence by order.

A Statistical Analysis of the Iranian Workers’ Situation in the Last Year

As International Workers’ Day approaches, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) shed light on the dire situation of Iranian workers over the past year. The HRA provides statistics on workers’ most pressing issues, including the denial of labor rights and unionization, low wages, wage arrears, and workplace safety issues.

Workplace Accidents

Iran ranks 102nd in the world in terms of occupational safety. According to the Statistics and Publication Center of HRA, in the past twelve months (from May 1, 2022, to April 27, 2023), at least 3576 workers have been killed or injured based on 2314 reports of work accidents made by either state media or workers’ rights organizations.

During this period, 3,066 workers were injured at work, with 2,333 cases mentioned in six official reports or comments made by officials at the national or provincial level. Civil and labor rights associations reported the remaining 733 cases.

At least 510 workers lost their lives in work-related accidents, with 250 deaths reported by eight official sources and the remaining 260 deaths reported by independent organizations. However, it is important to note that these statistics are likely an underestimation due to the lack of transparency of relevant institutions and their failure to disseminate information to the public.

Inconsistencies in official statements also suggest that official figures should be viewed with skepticism. For example, the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization stated that “during the last 10 years (2008-2018), 15,997 workers lost their lives in work accidents, of which 230 were women.” Considering these figures, the average number of work-related fatal casualties should be significantly higher than the officially-announced death toll of 250.

Falling from tall heights is the leading cause of death in work-related incidents, accounting for 41.5% of workplace deaths over the past ten years, according to official reports.

Occupational Accident Classification Chart

In the past year, based on data gathered by HRA’s Statistics and Publication Center, workplace accidents, illustrated by Figure 1, occurred in the following sectors: construction (20%), fires (19%), wells (9%), falling from tall heights (9%), being struck by hard objects (8%), factories (8%), motor vehicles (8%), electrocutions (6%), mines (6%), suffocation (5%), and petrochemical, oil, and gas refineries (2%).

Wage Arrears (Withheld wages) 

According to statistics compiled by HRA’s Statistics and Publication Center, at least 14,232 workers are owed wage arrears amounting to more than 712 combined monthly payments.

the distribution of wage arrears
As Figure 2 shows, public sector companies and organizations are responsible for 80% of these wage arrears. This figure is 14% for the private sector and 4% for the energy sector. The nature of the organizations responsible for 2% of these wage arrears remains unknown.
Unfortunately, many official reports fail to provide the number of workers awaiting wage arrears, which prevents the reporting of an accurate number.

Peaceful Assembly and Association

During the reporting period, a total of 1,616 reports on workers’ protest rallies and strikes were registered, indicating a decrease compared to previous years. This reduction can be partly attributed to the outbreak of nationwide protests sweeping across the country since September 17, 2022.

Media and civil society organizations have reported 225 workers’ protests and 772 trade union protests, which marks a 55% and 61% decrease, respectively, compared to the previous year.

Major labor events in the country over the past year include the workers’ protests of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company and Karun Agro-industry Company, farmers, teachers and educators, the pensioners from the Social Security Organization.

Over the past 12 months, numerous cities across the country witnessed a wide range of labour protests with various demands such as addressing insurance issues and wage arrears, the latter sometimes accumulating up to 30 months. In total, 113 labour strikes and 395 union strikes have been reported, showing a decrease of 70% and 50% respectively.

However, solidarity among workers to pursue their demands has been unprecedented. Suppression of any attempt toward unionization and forming independent labor organizations, the arrest and imprisonment of labor activists, and the denial of workers’ rights to protest are major reasons for making some workers’ protests sporadic and disorganized.

In Iran, there are no labor unions in the conventional sense. Workers’ efforts to form an independent workers union are suppressed by security and politically-tainted allegations against workers’ rights activists. This can be seen in the cases of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Haft Tappeh SugarCane Syndicate, the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, and the Independent Iranian Workers Union (IIWU).

Many workers have been summoned, arrested or convicted for peaceful activities such as protests against low wages, signing a petition in support of labour unions, posting photos of workers’ demonstrations on the internet or even receiving an invitation letter to attend world trade union meetings.

At least 49 workers and workers’ rights activists have been arrested in the past 12 months. The top three cases are the arrest of 16 protesting workers at Sungun copper mine in Varzeghan, 12 striking workers of the Tehran bus workers’ syndicate, and 7 protesting workers of Karun Cement Factory.

Many workers have been summoned, arrested or convicted for peaceful activities such as protests against low wages, signing a petition in support of labor unions, posting photos of workers’ demonstrations on the internet or even receiving an invitation letter to attend world trade union meetings. The most well-known imprisoned workers’ rights activists include Reza Shahabi, Keyvan Mohtadi, Nasrin Javadi, Arash Johari, Yadi Bahari, Mehran Raoof along with the trade union activists Mohammad Habibi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Rasoul Bodaghi, Esmail Abdi, Latif Roozikhah, and Mohammad-Reza Ramezanzadeh.

Additionally, 42 workers and workers’ rights activists have been sentenced to a combined total of 162 months imprisonment, 129 months of suspended imprisonment, a combined total of 510 lashes and paying a total fine of 51 million Tomans. In the reporting period, 6 workers committed self-immolation and 24 workers committed suicide. 21 were summoned by security or judicial institutions. 1,838 workers were subjected to layoffs; 4,228 involuntarily lost their jobs; 1,203,709 workers remain deprived of any labour insurance scheme; 2,783 workers were suspended from work due to factory closure or other reasons for which the employer is liable.

Moreover, 162 trade union activists were arrested. 34 trade union activists were sentenced to a combined total of 863 months imprisonment. 65 individuals were summoned by security or judicial authorities and 1,435 businesses were closed by Public Security Police or other authorities.

During the past 12 months, continuing their protests in the year before, retired and working teachers and educators from dozens of cities across the country staged numerous protests, strikes, and rallies to ask for their demands. 151 of their protest gatherings and 20 labour strikes have been recorded. Following these protests, 148 teachers were arrested, 55 were summoned, 38 were convicted. 11 protesting teachers were subjected to violence by police and security forces. 34 teachers and teachers union activists were sentenced to a combined total of 863 months in prison and a combined total fine of 40 million Tomans.

The Economic Situation

Hasan Habibi, a board member of the Supreme Center of Islamic Labor Councils informed the public about a sweeping wave of worker complaints regarding insufficient annual salaries. Workers are requesting repeal and re-adjustment with inflation. Habibi stated, “The annual salary increase enacted under the pressure of the government representatives at the Supreme Labor Council meeting is at variance with labor code. Although officially announced inflation was at least 50%, wages were only raised by 27% this year.”

Habibi also added, “It remains to be seen whether the court of Administrative Justice will compromise with the employers or rule in favor of workers. In the case of workplace safety and the repeal of petition 179, the complaints have gone nowhere. We hope their course of action will change this time.”

Nasrollah Daryabeigi, the Executive Secretary of the Workers’ House, which is the de facto national trade union center in Iran, pointed out that employers do not pay worker’s insurance in a timely manner, and 90% of workers currently have partial employment contracts.

The Executive Secretary of the Zanjan Workers’ House also asserted that the labor code, particularly Article 41, has been violated in the determination of annual wage increases. “While the government itself has set the poverty line at a monthly income of 14 million Tomans, it recognizes the minimum wage as half of this line,” he argues.

Faramarz Tofighi, the head of the Wage Committee at the Supreme Center of Islamic Labor Councils, pointed out that the delay in starting the work of this committee negatively affects workers’ living conditions. “The subsistence crisis has come to a head, and any increase in wages below one hundred percent never catches up with the livelihood expenses. To have a normal life, workers should earn two to three times more.”

Bahram Hasani-Nejad, a workers’ rights activist and the former head of the Chadormalu Mining Workers’ Association, clarifies that assuming the minimum standards for livelihood and basic needs, a household needs to earn 17 to 18 million monthly.

As many experts and workers’ rights activists have pointed out, the minimum wage, as announced by the Supreme Labor Council, falls lower than the actual inflation rate and consumption expenditure of households. This explains the increase in workers’ protests and their disempowerment to raise their voices.


Prohibition of child labor and the provision of free education for children, the establishment of the highest level of safety standards in the workplace, and the elimination of discriminatory laws for women and migrant workers are other demands of the working community.

Despite being a part of the cheapest labor force in the country, women’s labor situation is worse than men, with fewer benefits, lower wages, and a lesser degree of legal protection. Even worse, women have less bargaining power in the workplace.

Employers in manufacturing industries are less willing to recruit married women, and in some cases, single women’s recruitment is conditioned on not getting married or pregnant. Female workers’ situation in small workshops is far worse. Women comprise half of the workers occupied at bricklaying, a laborious and onerous work.

The ongoing privatization of government-owned industrial sectors has further degraded work conditions, job security, and benefits, leading to an increase in workers’ protests and strikes.

As Iranian workers celebrate International Workers’ Day there is little prospect of improvement through domestic reform or remedy. Nonetheless, the State must uphold its international human rights obligations under both the ICCPR and the ICESCR, ensuring that workers and labor rights activists are free to peacefully assemble and associate without fear of reprisal.


For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

One Kolbar Killed, Two Injured in Direct Shooting 

On September 16, 2022, the military forces killed a kolbar (cross-border carrier of goods) and injured two others in a  direct shooting incident at the Nowsud border area In Kurdistan Province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, on September 16, 2022, the Iranian military shot a kolbar identified as Esmail Abdi, 32 at the border area. Two other kolbars identified as Mokhtar Fattahi, 36, and Hamid Ahmadi were seriously injured.

According to an informed source, Ahmadi was injured in the neck and Fattahi in the arm and both were hospitalized in Kermanshah. Abdi’s body has not yet been delivered to his family.

HRANA Recap: This Week’s Protests in Iran

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, a number of protests took place this week in Iran. Read our recap below for details, photos, and videos from the demonstrations

Saturday, May 23

A group of workers and retirees of the Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company Haft-Tappeh gathered in front of the governorate building in Shush City. Recently, these protestors who are living in corporate houses of this company have received an eviction notice. They said that “we will evict the houses, but we have to receive beforehand the renovation expenses. Since these houses are too old, we have spent a lot on renovation”.

A group of poultry farmers assembled in front of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad in Tehran. They protested against a 600% increase in livestock inputs. According to these farmers, the subsidiary companies of the Ministry sell the livestock inputs illegally on the black market.

A group of personnel of the Ministry of Petroleum who have temporary contracts gathered before this Ministry in Tehran to protest again low wages. According to these protestors, a 10 per cent increase in wages can not keep up with current inflation.

A number of workers of the Municipality of Ahar City walked off the job and went on strike to protest unpaid wages.

Sunday, May 23

A group of pensioners of the Social Security Organization gathered in front of the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran. In Karaj, Ahvaz, Tabriz, Kerman, Rasht, and Kermanshah, the pensioners held protests before the building of the Social Security Organization in each city.

These pensioners demanded raising their pension to stand above the poverty line, addressing the supplementary insurance issues, the end year bonuses.

 

 

 

A group of workers of the Municipality of Yasuj gathered before the governorate building to protest against 5-month delays in payments. One of the workers complained: “we work 12 hours. However, we cannot even afford the travel expenses so we have to walk to work. If we protest, they threaten us with termination.”

A group of citizens, who have not lost their money by the fraudulent acts of Negin Khordo and Irtoya, held protests before Tehran Public Prosecutor’s Office. They asked for transparency and responsibility from the judiciary in examining the legal case against these companies.

 

Monday, May 23

Following the collapse of a tower in Abadan, dozens of people rallied and protested. 27 people died in this accident. On that day, at least 80 people were still trapped under rubble.

In Tehran, a number of taxi drivers working for taxi app Snapp protested against low fares, lack of insurance coverage and other issues.

Tuesday, May 24

A group of students of Allameh Tabataba’i University protested against the suppression of students and prison sentence against Hasti Amiri, one of the law students at Allameh Tabataba’i University.

Recently, the Court of Appeals upheld a one-year sentence against Hasti Amiri.

Similarly, a group of students of the Babol Noshirvani University of Technology gathered on campus to protest against the prison sentence against Hasti Amiri as well as other imprisoned civil activist Farhad Meysami and jailed teachers Mohammad Habibi and Esmail Abdi.

In Abadan, hundreds of residents gathered and protested before the collapsed tower known as Metropol. They chanted slogans against the incompetency of officials and shortcomings in rescue operations and equipment. At least 26 people died in this accident. The experts of the Abadan Engineering Organization had already warned about the construction defect of this unfinished building.

A group of workers of the Ministry of Petroleum, who have temporary contracts gathered before this Ministry in Tehran. They said that a 10 per cent increase in wages is less than the minimum wage enacted by the Ministry of Labor. Also, they have not received yet the end year bonuses.

A number of ranchmen brought some of their livestock in front of the governorate building in Mehran city to protest against the shortening of forage for livestock.

Wednesday, May 25

A group of physicians held protests in front of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education in Tehran. With placards in their hands, they protested that the government and insurance take as high as 70 per cent of their revenue.

A number of residents of a district in Fanuj City gathered at their district to protest against Natural Resources Office’s attempt to confiscate their lands to construct a mine. They also warned about the irreparable damage this mine will bring to the environment.

Thursday, May 26

In protest against the incompetency of officials led to the collapse of a tower and the death of 26 people, hundreds of people in Abadan rallied. Also in Ahvaz and Shahinshar, people rallied in support of Abadan’s protest. People chanted anti-government slogans and the police shoot tear gas into the crowd in order to scatter them.

On May 23, 2022, the unfinished 10-story Metropol building collapsed and dozens of people were killed, injured or trapped in the debris.

 

 

 

 

Teacher Union Activist Esmail Abdi Hospitalized on Sixth Day of Hunger Strike

Teacher union activist Esmail Abdi was hospitalized after the sixth day of the hunger strike. Since last Sunday, May 1, Esmail Abdi, who is currently imprisoned in Kachooie Prison, has been on hunger strike in protest against “convictions against teacher union activists and suppression of imprisoned teachers and workers’ families.”

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association’s Telegram channel, Esmail Abdi was hospitalized due to deteriorating health conditions after six days of hunger strike.

On June 27, 2015, when Abdi went to Evin Courthouse to enquire about the reason for being banned from leaving the country, he was arrested and interrogated for many hours. After six months in detention, in March of that year, he was sentenced to six years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on the charges of “propaganda against the regime and assembly and collusion against national security”, of which, five years was enforceable.

Earlier, Abdi was sentenced to ten years of suspended imprisonment which was supposed to last for five years. However,  while serving the last months of his five years sentence, this suspended sentence was reactivated by the court order.  

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Now is definitely not the time to stop reading!

Two Teachers Imprisoned at Evin Pen Statement of Support for Farhad Meysami

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi and Esmail Abdi, two teachers imprisoned at Evin, have demanded in a letter to Judicial authorities that their ward mate Farhad Meysami–who is now in the 54th day of his hunger strike–be transferred to an outside treatment facility to avert an impending health crisis.

Meysami has dropped 30 pounds since he started starving himself on August 1st to protest both his detention and authorities’ refusal to appoint the lawyer of his choosing. In addition to his 18-year history of ulcerative colitis, Meysami experienced a steep drop in blood pressure on Saturday, September 8th, prompting the prison doctor to recommend more aggressive treatment. Notwithstanding the doctor’s orders, prison authorities refuse to clear his transfer to a different facility for treatment.

In a letter, Langroudi and Abdi, two imprisoned teachers held with Meysami in Ward 8 of Evin Prison, urge authorities to approve Meysami’s transfer to a medical treatment facility, to “prevent a possible calamity from occurring.”

The full text of their letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

“In the name of the God of wisdom and life,

Fifty days have passed since Dr. Farhad Meysami, civil activist and political prisoner, declared his hunger strike. His strike was a response to unjust legal proceedings, and authorities’ hindrance of his effective defense by refusing him the right to choose an attorney. He is now in a critically weakened condition. It is said that the doctors at Evin Prison insisted he be hospitalized, yet judicial authorities refuse to issue the order to have him transferred to a prison more materially equipped to treat him.

Because this civil activist suffers from ulcerative colitis and has lost 30 pounds over the course of his hunger strike, his blood pressure, pulse, and other vital signs have dipped into gravely abnormal ranges. As of last week he stopped accepting intravenous treatment, leaving us more concerned than ever that a calamitous outcome might be imminent.

We, the undersigned, thus put on guard the relevant judicial authorities, that they express their agreement to transfer Dr. Meysami to a proper hospital without delay, to prevent a possible calamity from occurring.

His ward-mates, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi and Esmail Abdi”

A Report about Hunger Strikers in Prisons of Iran

HRANA News Agency – Reza Samiei Monfared, Hengameh Shahidi, Atena Daemi, and Esmail Abdi, four prisoners of conscience at Evin prison have been on hunger strike. At the same time, Seyed Hassan Hoseini, Ali Jahangiri and Hosein Yahyaei, three ordinary prisoners in Rajai Shahr prison, in Karaj have gone on hunger strike since the last week of April, and their condition is not good.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Reza Samiei Monfared, security prisoner has gone on hunger strike since March 5, Hengameh Shahidi, a journalist and political activist, since March 9, Atena Daemi, human rights defender at women’s ward, since April 8, and Esmail Abdi, a teacher and trade unionist in ward 350 of Evin prison, since April 30, have gone on hunger strike with various demands.  Continue reading “A Report about Hunger Strikers in Prisons of Iran”

Esmail Abdi and Yusuf Emadi Transferred to Ward 350 of Evin Prison

HRANA News Agency – Esmail Abdi, teachers’ union activist and Yusuf Emadi, artist, both prisoners in ward 7 of Evin prison, were transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Esmail Abdi, the Board member of ITTA of Tehran, and Yusuf Emadi, composer and Setar player, two prisoners in ward 7 of Evin prison, were transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison, without “prior notice and the prosecutor’s order”, on March 1, 2017. Continue reading “Esmail Abdi and Yusuf Emadi Transferred to Ward 350 of Evin Prison”

Political Prisoners of Ward 7 in Evin Prison Protest against Lack of Medical Treatment

HRANA News Agency – The prisoners of conscience in ward seven of Evin prison have struck to protest against the lack of medical attention for sick prisoners in this ward and signed a letter demanding the dismissal of the head of the infirmary of this ward. Among the ill prisoners in this ward, Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, and Sohail Arabi have been deprived of medical treatment and being sent to a hospital.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), several prisoners in ward seven of Evin prison, including Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian, Esmail Abdi, Soheil Arabi, Omid Alishenas, and Yousof Emadi, by writing a letter to the prison’s authorities have protested against “Ghasem Jafarnejad”, the head of ward seven’s infirmary,  and have demanded his dismissal. Continue reading “Political Prisoners of Ward 7 in Evin Prison Protest against Lack of Medical Treatment”

Rasoul Bodaghi Transferred To Ward 7 Of Evin Prison

HRANA News Agency – Rasoul Bodaghi, imprisoned teacher, has been transferred to ward 7 of Evin Prison.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Rasoul Bodaghi, imprisoned teacher and member of Teachers Union, has been transferred from ward 8 to ward 7 of Evin Prison. Continue reading “Rasoul Bodaghi Transferred To Ward 7 Of Evin Prison”