Bail Release of Syndicate Chairman Arrested Amid Teacher Strikes

Posted on: October 24th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Mohammadreza Ramezanzadeh, Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), was released today, October 23, 2018, on a bail of 100 million tomans [approximately $7,000 USD] pending trial.

Ramezandzadeh was arrested October 14th in the northeastern city of Bojnourd, amid two-day-long general strikes of Iran’s teaching community. CCTSI had called for the strike to protest the low compensation grade of teachers.

Strikers also demanded the release of their still-imprisoned colleagues, including Mohammad Habibi, Esmaeil Abdi, and Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi.

Impending Appeals Hearing on Habibi Case

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The Appellate Court of Tehran Province Branch 36 will convene October 25, 2018, to review the case of Mohammad Habibi, a teacher and union activist imprisoned since May 2018 for commemorating national teachers’ week.

Habibi’s lawyer Hossein Taj confirmed the news to HRANA. “We’re taking it as a good sign that they’ve assigned a date this soon,” he said. “We hope that the appeals judges consider our client’s upstanding character and the case for his defense, which would relieve, if only a little, the pain that’s plaguing the teaching community.”

On September 20th, HRANA’s English webpage announced that Habibi’s case had entered the appellate stage.

In direct violation of physician orders, Habibi has been denied medical attention since the beginning of his detention period. Taj said that Habibi has suffered from various health problems since being imprisoned, including a 22-pound weight loss, suspect kidney stones, and a severe lung infection causing pain in his rib cage, reportedly due to being beaten while in prison.

According to Taj, the nephrologist at Imam Khomeini hospital issued an order for Habibi’s urgent treatment, as he has kidney and urinary tract conditions that may require surgery. In face of the documented medical urgency, however, authorities have yet to clear him for even preliminary testing.

On the one occasion that Habibi’s request for medical leave was granted, he was released from Great Tehran Penitentiary, prematurely dismissed from the hospital without receiving treatment, and then transferred to Evin Prison on Monday, September 3, 2018, where he has remained since.

Habibi’s case – and particularly his compromised medical condition – recently drew the support of teacher’s organizations at home and abroad. In a letter addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the French trade unions SFDT, SGT, FSO, Solidaires, and UNSA held the Supreme Leader accountable for Habibi’s fate and called his imprisonment a violation of both human rights and the fundamental freedoms of syndicates. In May 2018, General Secretary of Education International (EI) David Edwards vehemently denounced Habibi’s arrest and detention, demanding his immediate release in a letter to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Iranians themselves have also called for Habibi’s release. In a statement signed by over 1,400 civil, political, union and teachers’ activists across Iran, Iranians protested Habibi’s sentence and called for greater solidarity with teachers and other workers in Iranian society.

On July 23rd, 2018, Judge Ahmadzadeh of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Habibi to 10 and a half years’ imprisonment, i.e. seven and a half years for “national-security related Crimes,” 18 months for “propaganda against the regime”, and another 18 months for “disrupting public order.” In addition to prison terms, he was dealt a two-year ban from political and civic activities, a two-year travel ban, and 74 lashings.

Under Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which holds that prisoners are to serve the lengthiest of their sentences, Habibi’s sentence, if upheld, would put him behind bars for a maximum of seven and a half years, i.e. the heaviest one of his three sentences.

Habibi is a member of the board of directors for the Teachers’ Union Association of Tehran Province.

A letter from his HR office confirmed he is no longer receiving his salary.

Six Education Rights Activists Get Suspended Sentences for May 10th Gathering

Posted on: September 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) –

Six people arrested in a teachers’ demonstration on May 10th have been issued a suspended sentence of nine months imprisonment and 74 lashings, or the equivalent financial penalty, on charges of “disrupting public order by taking part in illegal gatherings” and “disobeying authorities serving their duty.” Their trial took place in Branch 1060 of the Second Criminal Court of Government Employees on September 5th.

HRANA has identified the arrestees as Ali Eghdamdoost, a member of the retirees’ union; Rasoul Badaghi, a previous officer of Tehran’s Teachers Trade Union; Esmayil Gerami, Javaad Zolnoori, Hossein Gholami, and Mohammad Abedi.

All six took part in a May 10th gathering of teachers and retirees advocating in front of Iran’s Planning and Budgeting Organization against the privatization of the country’s education system, and for wages that would hoist them above the poverty line. Police attacks on the demonstrators led to injuries, hospitalizations, and eight arrests.

Arrestees were held in a security police detention house on Vozara street before being transported to Base Seven of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) a few days later. They were finally taken in shackles and handcuffs to Evin prison, where they eventually accepted to post a bail of 500 million rials (approximately 12,000 USD) to await their trial.

Teachers’ union activist Mohammad Habibi, currently housed in Section 4 of Evin Prison, is a defendant on the same case. He was sentenced July 23rd to 10 years and six months in prison, 74 lashings, and a two-year ban on both civic activities and travel.

At trial, a judge offered freedom to the May 10th activists in exchange for their pledge to cease future involvement with labor activism. In defense of their right to stage and participate in peaceful gatherings, all reportedly refused.

An Academic Year of Teacher Crackdowns

Posted on: September 25th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Iranian authorities have tightened their grip on union activities in recent years, and teacher union activists are far from the exception. Indeed, if representatives of various industries have been met with blowback for organizing in defense of their colleagues’ collective rights, a retrospective of crackdowns in the education field gives reason to believe that authorities reserve particular vitriol for the nation’s educators.

So far this year, Iranian teachers and educator-activists have been arrested by security agents, brought to court under various allegations, issued lengthy prison sentences, flogged, and exiled. On this turning of Iran’s new academic year, HRANA looks back at the cases of several teachers who were persecuted by authorities this year.

Mohammad Habibi: Union Activist, Member of the Teachers’ Union Association Board of Directors in Tehran Province

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 beaten and arrested and five days later Habibi was transferred to Great Tehran Penitentiary; all but Habibi were released on bail.

Now, Habibi’s case—which recently inspired more than 1400 civil and union activists to write to Iran’s Supreme leader demanding that he receive medical treatment—will be reviewed in Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court, presided by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar. Habibi’s attorney Hossein Taj told a correspondent from the state-run news agency IRNA on Monday, September 17th that a date for the hearing has yet to be set.

Cumulatively, his charges would carry a sentence of ten years: seven and a half years for “National-Security Related Crimes”, 18 months for “Propaganda against the Regime”, and another 18 months for “Disrupting Public Order.” In addition to prison terms, he was dealt a two-year ban from political and civic activities, a two-year travel ban, and 74 lashings.

Habibi suffers from chest pain and throat and lung infections secondary to assault wounds inflicted by authorities during his arrest, yet continues to be denied medical treatment. On the one occasion his medical leave was granted, according to HRANA reports, the receiving hospital dismissed him without treatment, sending him back to Evin Prison’s Ward 4 on Monday, September 3, 2018, where he has remained since.

Habibi’s case–particularly his compromised medical condition–recently drew the support of teacher organizations abroad. In a letter addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the French trade unions SFDT, SGT, FSO, Solidaires, and UNSA held the Supreme Leader accountable for Habibi’s fate, and called his imprisonment a violation of both human rights and the fundamental freedoms of syndicates. In May 2018, General Secretary of Education International (EI) David Edwards vehemently denounced Habibi’s arrest and detention, demanding his immediate release in a letter to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

The Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran has publicly condemned the recent persecution of union advocates, also demanding that the necessary steps be taken for Habibi’s immediate release.

Habibi was arrested at his workplace on March 3, 2018 and jailed for 44 days in Evin Prison. On April 15, 2018, he was released on a bail of approximately $20000 USD (2.5 Billion Rials) pending his trial the following August.

A letter from Habibi’s HR office confirmed he is no longer receiving his salary.

Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi: Former Spokesman of the Teachers’ Union Association

Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, former spokesman of the Teachers’ Union Association, has been persistently following up on his requests for conditional release, having already served half of the five-year sentence he began September 6, 2015 in Evin. Authorities have thus far been unresponsive.

According to his wife Adineh Beigi, Langroodi started his teaching career in 1983 and remained an hourly employee for the first seven years, suspended in the recruitment process due to his allegedly oppositional intellectual leanings. In the genesis of the Teachers’ Union Association in the early 2000s, he was one of the first to join its board of directors, and was elected general secretary for two terms. He has also served on the board as an inspector and spokesman.

Langroodi had been sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison for three separate cases tried in revolutionary courts, all presided by judges known as “Salavati and Moghiseh.” In April 8, 2017, with the application of article 134, which limits defendants of multiple charges to the single heaviest among their sentences, his 14-year prison sentence was reduced to five years. Now, having served two third of his prison term, his family awaits his release.

On July 2, 2018, Langroodi went on hunger strike to protest the continued mistreatment of political prisoners, and wrote an open letter imputing the eventual consequences of his hunger strike on those who had put him behind bars, particularly the judges and prosecutor’s office.

On July 16th of this year, the Teachers’ Union Association of Tehran Province issued a statement condemning the judiciary’s disregard of the law, and criticizing the assistant prosecutor in charge of Evin Prison for negligence. The letter validated the demands of Beheshti and his fellow imprisoned teachers, urging them to cease their hunger strike.

Moved by his comrades’ letter and concerned about his declining health, Beheshti ended his hunger strike after 14 days.

Langaroudi has been summoned, interrogated, arrested, and detained several times during the past few years for his peaceful trade union activities.

Esmaeil Abdi: General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Association

Esmail Abdi, former secretary general of the Teachers’ Union Association, is serving a 6-year sentence in Evin Prison.

A former teacher of mathematics, Abdi was arrested by security forces June 27, 2015 and sentenced February 2016 by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court on charges of “Propaganda against the Regime” and “Assembling and Colluding against National Security.”

On May 14, 2016, after serving 11 months, he was released on bail until his trial the following October, when Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court upheld his six-year prison sentence. He has been in Ward 8 of Evin prison since being arrested in his home by security forces on November 9, 2016.

Under Article 134, Abdi’s sentence should be limited to the heaviest one of his multiple sentences, and thus should not exceed five years. It remains to be seen if the judiciary will uphold Article 134 in his case.

Over the course of Abdi’s imprisonment, several groups have spoken out against his treatment by the judicial system and pleaded for his release, including the Syndicate of United Bus Company Workers of Greater Tehran (known as ‘Sandicaye Sherkat Vahed’), the International Education Organization, the Iran Teachers’ Organization, a number of individual labor and union activists, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, the Kurdish Teachers’ Association, and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

In April 24, 2018, Esmail Abdi staged a 23-day hunger strike to protest the “widespread violation of teachers’ and workers’ rights in Iran.” Amnesty International was prompted by the urgency of his hunger strike to issue their own demand for Abdi’s release on April 28, 2018.

Abdi had previously gone on hunger strike one year earlier in protest of his trial proceedings, the judiciary’s lack of autonomy, and the continued unlawful repression of teachers and labors union activists. More than a month into the strike he was transferred to a hospital and began eating again on June 7th at the requests of his family and the Teacher’s Union Association.

Abdi was the 2018 recipient of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) Solidarity Award at its annual conference in Birmingham, England.

Mohammad Sani, a Teacher of Exceptional Schools in Southern Iran

Mohammad Sani, a teacher from Bushehr, southern Iran, was sentenced to two years in prison and 74 lashings for his union activities, which landed him a conviction of “spreading misinformation and disturbing public opinion” this past August. He is currently waiting for the Enforcement Department to deliver his summons and begin his prison time.

An informed source previously told HRANA that Sani’s charge is related to the widespread teacher protests in 2015, which prompted the County Governorate of Dashtestan, Bushehr province to open a case against the protestors. “When Mr. Sani responded to the county governor’s insults to the teachers at the sit in, they opened a case on him,” the source said.

In October 2015, Iranian teachers staged peaceful protests across the country, demanding the release of their imprisoned colleagues, the fulfillment of union requests, and public consideration for the threatened livelihoods of educators.

Ruhollah Mardani: Teacher and Tehran University Student

In Ward 4 of Evin Prison, Ruhollah Mardani is currently serving a sentence of six years, plus a two-year ban on typical citizen rights including travel.

Mardani was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison on February 17, 2018 for his participation in the widespread January protests one month earlier. His initial court hearing, which convened in June of this year, convicted him on charges of “Propaganda against the regime” and “Gathering and collusion aimed at disrupting national security.”

Mardani started a hunger strike April 24th 2017 to protest his detainment and stalled court proceedings while in prison. When authorities promised to accelerate their investigation of his case on May 21st, he began eating again after twenty seven consecutive days of strike.

An informed source previously told HRANA that the Education Security Office cut off his salary in the first month of his arrest, arguing that he could not be paid during his detention. “His job security is under threat right now,” the source said.

Mardani was working as a consultant teacher in region 4 of Karaj while studying at Tehran University.

Bakhtiar Arefi: Teacher in Sardasht, northwestern Iran

Bakhtiar Arefi began serving his 18-month prison sentence on Tuesday July 24, 2018 in Mahabad Prison. He was arrested January 25, 2015 for non-union reasons including “Membership in a Reformist Organization” and released on bail after one month.

Shortly thereafter in Revolutionary Court on February 25, 2017, Arefi was sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence was upheld in Branch 40 of Supreme Court, only to be later reduced to eighteen months in Branch 13 of Urmia Appeals Court on October 30, 2017, via application of Article 18 of Islamic Penal Code. If he serves his sentence as indicated, he will be released December 23, 2019.

Iranian teachers who have faced judicial persecution along with their unionist colleagues include Mokhtar Asadi, Taher Ghaderzadeh, Rasool Bodaghi, Aliakbar Baghani, Nabiollah Bastan Farsani, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Mahmud Bagheri, Mohammad Davari, Alireza Hashemi, Jafar Ebrahimi, Hashem Khastar, Mohsen Omrani.

Mohammad Habibi’s Case Enters Appellate Stage: a Review of the Stakes

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The case of imprisoned teacher Mohammad Habibi—which recently inspired more than 1400 civil and union activists to write to Iran’s Supreme leader demanding that he receive medical treatment—will be reviewed in Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court, presided by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar. Habibi’s attorney Hossein Taj told a correspondent from the state-run news agency IRNA on Monday, September 17th that a date for the hearing has yet to be set.

If all goes according to Taj’s hopes, Branch 36 will at best exonerate him, and at worst put him behind bars for seven and a half years. The precarity lies with Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which in theory protects defendants from serving the sum of multiple sentences, but is not applied consistently in practice.

Cumulatively, Habibi’s charges would carry a sentence of ten years: seven and a half years for “National-Security Related Crimes”, 18 months for “Propaganda Against the Regime”, and another 18 months for “Disrupting Public Order.” In addition to prison terms, he was dealt a two-year ban from political and civic activities, a two-year travel ban, and 74 lashings.

Under Article 134, Habibi’s sentence, if upheld, would put him behind bars for a maximum of seven and a half years, i.e. the heaviest one of his three sentences. But Taj, his attorney, remains on guard: the Article 134 rights of imprisoned teacher Esmaeil Abdi, who is also on Taj’s client list, have not been honored: “…Abdi was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, which by Article 134 should have been five,” Taj explained.

Taj elaborated that Abdi has also been denied both medical care and conditional release from prison, a privilege for which he became eligible after serving half of his sentence. “We have re-submitted my client’s conditional release request, and it is under review,” the lawyer said.

A former teacher of mathematics and Teachers’ Union General Secretary, Abdi has been in prison since November 2016 on charges of “Propaganda Against the Regime” and “Collusion Against National Security.” Habibi, a union activist and member of the Teachers’ Union Association Board of Directors in Tehran province, was arrested amid May 2018 rallies that were staged in observance of a national teachers’ holiday.

Habibi’s case–particularly his own compromised medical condition–recently drew the support of teacher organizations abroad. In a letter addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the French trade unions SFDT, SGT, FSO, Solidaires, and UNSA held the Supreme Leader accountable for Habibi’s fate, and called his imprisonment a violation of both human rights and the fundamental freedoms of syndicates.

“Prison authorities continue to refuse him the medical treatment he sorely needs. Without proper care, his condition is at risk of rapid decline,” their letter reads. “We mean to impress upon you that as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, you are responsible for the life and health of Mohammad Habibi.”

On the one occasion Habibi’s medical leave was granted, according to HRANA reports, he was released from Great Tehran Penitentiary to a hospital that dismissed him without treatment. He was then transferred to Evin Prison on Monday, September 3, 2018, and has remained there since.

According to a letter from his HR office, Mohammad Habibi is no longer receiving his salary.

At Home and Abroad, Civil and Union Activists Continue to Rally Behind Detained Teacher Mohammad Habibi

Posted on: September 17th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- In the interest of obtaining Mohammad Habibi’s medical treatment and release from detainment, over 1400 Iranian civil and union activists have signed a letter to the attention Iran’s Supreme Leader, as his case steadily gains exposure with syndicates abroad.

Habibi, himself a union activist, educator, and member of the Teachers’ Union Association Board of Directors in the Province of Tehran, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence ruled Saturday, August 4th in Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court. In addition to prison time, Habibi’s sentence included a two-years ban on civic activity, a two-year travel ban, and 74 lashings.

Since his detainment, Habibi’s requests for medical furlough have been repeatedly denied. On the one occasion his leave was granted, he was released from Great Tehran Penitentiary, prematurely dismissed from the hospital without receiving treatment, and then transferred to Evin on Monday, September 3, 2018, where he has remained since.

In one letter addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the French trade unions SFDT, SGT, FSO, Solidaires, and UNSA called Habibi’s imprisonment a violation of both human rights and the fundamental freedoms of syndicates, and held the Supreme Leader accountable for his fate.

“Prison authorities continue to refuse him the medical treatment he sorely needs. Without proper care, his condition is at risk of rapid decline,” their letter reads. “We mean to impress upon you that as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, you are responsible for the life and health of Mohammad Habibi.”

The signatories of the Iranian letter below are currently at 1400 and steadily increasing. Its full text is below, translated into English by HRANA:

“The Noble People of Iran,
Dear Teachers,
Political, Civil, and Union Activists,
Sensible people of the world,

As you know, Mohammad Habibi — member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran, and protector of the rights of students, retired educators, and currently working teachers– has been subjected to the hostility of authorities and unlawfully detained in the Great Tehran Penitentiary, weakened in body but vigorous in spirit, and was recently sentenced to ten and a half years in prison, a 2-year travel ban, and a 2-year ban on civic activity.

The verdict against this unionist, coupled with the sentences of fellow unionists and political and civil activists, betrays the will to choke freedom of speech with medieval punishments such as lashings, exile, and internment in prisons reminiscent of POW detainment centers– so many efforts to inject fear and trepidation into the civil activist’s drive for justice.

Habibi’s verdict is reminiscent of the heavy sentences imposed on student activists and of the lashes inflicted on Agh Tappeh mine workers, sentences that are the latent dread of every civic society.

These sentences are issued for teachers, workers, students, etc… meanwhile, the thieves, the embezzlers, and the corrupt, in comfort and security, violate and withhold the rights of ordinary people and laborers, continuously lowering the bar on their livelihood.

It is our human duty in such circumstances to raise our collective voice against these cruel punishments, in order to put an end to the imprisonment, flogging, and persecution of sick prisoners.

To intercept a looming human tragedy, the Defense Committee of Mohammad Habibi calls for his immediate medical admission, and with a greater sense of solidarity than ever before will continue to fight for his release as well as the release of other imprisoned teachers.

We call on all free and righteous people to protest the imprisonment and flogging of Mohammad Habibi, and that of other unionists and civil activists, starting with their signature on the “No to Prison and Flogging” petition. Hopefully, this year, Mohammad Habibi’s students will see him again in the classroom, and not behind the bars of a prison.”

****

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 Habibi were released on bail three days later.

Mohammad was previously arrested at his workplace on March 3, 2018 and jailed for 44 days in Evin Prison. On April 15, 2018, he was released on a bail of approximately $20000 USD (2.5 Billion Rials) in wait of his trial the following August.

Teacher Mohammad Habibi Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Amid hopes that ailing prisoner Mohammad Habibi would be released for medical treatment, he was instead transferred from the Great Tehran Penitentiary to the Quarantine Ward of Evin Prison on Monday, September 3, 2018.

Despite suffering from a kidney condition, the union activist and member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran was previously denied care on a prior release to the hospital.

A source close to Habibi’s family confirmed news of the Evin transfer to HRANA, adding that Habibi had updated his family on the phone and told them of a pending transfer from the Quarantine Ward to the General Ward, scheduled for Tuesday.

The source detailed Habibi’s difficulties thus far in getting adequate care. “According to a letter from a supervisory court official dated July 8 of this year, Habibi was to receive urgent medical attention. However, for unknown reasons, this letter was never delivered to Habibi. He only saw the letter ten days ago while seeking care at the internal clinic of Great Tehran Penitentiary, at which point he discussed it with officials and was transferred to Imam Khomeini Hospital.

In absence of a practicing nephrologist at Imam Khomeini Hospital, Habibi was examined by a general practitioner who recommended immediate admission for specialized testing and possible surgery. Though eight days have passed since this exam, authorities have yet to follow up on the recommendation, as his family grows ever more concerned about his health.

On August 4, 2018, Mohammad Habibi’s attorney Amir Raeisiyan reported that his client was sentenced to ten and a half years’ imprisonment, despite the fact that the maximum cumulative prison sentence for all of Habibi’s charges would be seven and a half years. At that time 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, in separate open letters and press releases, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates, 6,500 teachers and civil society activists, and over 100 educators — all alumni of Shahid Rajai University– demanded his immediate release, and that attention is paid to his medical condition.

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.

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 Habibi were released on bail three days later.

Mohammad Habibi has remained in custody since, and according to a letter from his HR office, is no longer receiving his salary.

Mohammad Habibi Returns to Prison from Hospital without Adequate Medical Care

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

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.

Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates in Uproar over Arrest of Mohammad Habibi

Posted on: August 10th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates (The Council here forth) has issued a statement protesting the sentence imposed on Mohammad Habibi, a teacher’s union activist. The Council has cited the verdict as an example on which to evaluate judicial fairness in Iran. The Council has also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Habibi, adding: “The judge’s ulterior motive in this verdict is to send a warning to society: if you pursue justice, you will face prison and lashings.”

The full text of the statement has been translated to English by HRANA:

Ninety days have passed since the unlawful and violent arrest of Mr Mohammad Habibi, a member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran. The arrest has appalled teachers and society at large, and the move is widely condemned by conscientious people after another.

Each element of Mr Habibi’s story, from the way he was arrested on May 10th to the legal process he went through and location in which he was detained, is evidence of an extrajudicial will to impose on this jailed teacher an unlawful ordeal. The denial of his bail, as well as the request from the IRGC Intelligence unit to unlawfully transfer him to Tehran, demonstrate a lack of due process and an infringement on the rights of the accused. Sadly, his story doesn’t end there. Mr Habibi was also denied urgently necessary medical attention. Coupled with the deplorable conditions of the Great Tehran Penitentiary, such negligence could end in tragedy if the status quo persists.

Based on reliable information obtained by the Council, the family of Mr Habibi has stopped at nothing to fight for his rights. They have pursued his case by writing letters and visiting with officials in person. Thanks to their efforts, it can be said with certainty that authorities on the highest level are aware of the appalling situation Mr Mohammad Habibi is in. They know of the distress that Mr Habibi’s ordeal has inflicted on the Iranian teaching community. Nevertheless, in an unprecedented and unjust verdict from Judge Ahmadizadeh who presides over Branch 26 of the [Tehran] Revolutionary Court, Habibi was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison, two years’ ban on his social activities, a two-year travel ban, and to crack down even harder, 74 lashings.

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. It is as if the judge sought to say to those oppressed, frustrated, and fed-up with corruption and rising prices, that authorities won’t lay a hand on thieves or embezzlers, and seek only to imprison people, especially teachers, who fight for freedom and justice.

In our view, these due process violations are so stark that an investigation into Mohammad Habibi’s ordeal could provide a clear measure of the judiciary’s integrity.

Therefore, we ask independent jurists and legal experts to investigate this matter so that the Judiciary might respond to the teachers’ inquiries and concerns:

We would like to know on what basis the agents [who came to arrest Mr Habibi] put a gun to his head while handcuffing him?

We would like to know what or who allowed plainclothes agents to drag Mohammad Habibi on the pavement after beating him?

We would like to know on what basis and how the investigators first set the bail, only to deny it later and send the case to the court?

We would like to know why the judge denied the bail and returned Mr Habibi to the Great Tehran Penitentiary?

We would like to know why Mohammad Habibi was not transferred outside of the prison for medical attention, despite the coroner’s confirmation that he needed care?

These are the unanswered questions that have preoccupied most of our minds.

Our last question is, why and how can a judge increase a punishment already imposed? The maximum penalty for collusion is five years in prison; for propaganda against the regime, one year; and one year for disturbing the public peace. The judge did not adhere to these maximums, and instead extended Habibi’s prison sentence from one and a half to ten and a half years, even though the maximum punishment for all of the charges against him could only amount to seven and a half years.

How odd a degree of hostility and rancor for those who are responsible for the education of our children.

The Council adamantly condemns the sentence of Mr Habibi and demands his immediate release until his case is heard by an appeals court. The teaching community does not abide charges against jailed activists and requests exoneration of Mr Habibi by an appeals court. We believe that the imprisonment of union activists is the epitome of treating civic activities as security threats. In a political climate like this one, with teachers confined to prison, it is futile to speak of solving education problems. Consequently, union activists, with their imprisoned colleagues in mind, will start this school year in a new, different way.

The Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates
August 7, 2018

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In mid-July, a group of teachers met with the Minister of Education’s advisor in Union Affairs and delivered a letter in defense of Mohammad Habibi. In the letter, the signatories expressed concerns about Mr Habibi’s health and asked for his transfer to Evin Prison.

In June, a letter signed by 6,500 teachers and civil activists demanding the release of Mr Habibi was delivered to the Iranian Parliament.

On May 10, 2018, the Council urged teachers to assemble in protest. In Tehran, several of those who responded to the call were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison, and all but Mr Habibi were released on bail three days later.

Mohammad Habibi was previously arrested and jailed for 44 days in March 2018 and was released on a bail of approximately $50,000 USD.