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Mohammad Taghi Fallahi & Esmail Abdi

Iran: UCU demands release of teacher trade union leaders

3 February 2022

UCU has written to the Iranian ambassador calling for the release of union leaders Esmail Abdi and Mohammad Taghi Fallahi.

H.E. Mr. Mohsen Baharvand
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

31 January 2022

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the University and College Union (UCU), I am writing to express my outrage at the ongoing imprisonment, arrests and repression of teacher trade unionists in Iran.

We are very concerned about the sudden arrest and detention of Mr Mohammad Taghi Fallahi, the General Secretary of the Iranian Teacher's Trade Association (ITTA) in Tehran, on Wednesday 19 January, by your government's security forces. It is understood that Mr Fallahi is being held at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

The arrest comes amidst a hugely popular and successful campaign of strikes and public protests waged by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Associations (CCITTA) since early-December 2021 in defence of jobs, pay, conditions of service, and the future of the state education sector in Iran.

Moreover, the arrest of Mr. Fallahi comes on top of the hugely repressive treatment of Esmail Abdi, the former General Secretary of the ITTA, by the Iranian authorities. Mr Abdi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions since 2006 on trumped up charges of "propaganda against the State" and "espionage". He was sentenced to five years in 2016 on fictitious charges of "spreading propaganda against the system" and "gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security". To prevent his release, the Iranian authorities, executed a suspended 10-year sentence related to a 2011 case, at the end of his previous sentence on 11 January 2021, thereby imprisoning him until 2031. We are particularly concerned about Mr Abdi's health, severely affected after long imprisonment in dire conditions, but also the fact that his family (wife, two daughters and a son) are being harassed and victimised by the security forces and remain a serious risk.

We call on the Iranian government to:

  • unconditionally drop all charges and release Esmail Abdi, Mohammad Taghi Fallahi and other imprisoned trade unionists and human rights defenders in Iran
  • respect and uphold the rights of teachers and education workers to organise and to freedom of association and freedom of speech including the right to peaceful assembly, without fear of intervention by the authorities
  • institutionalise dialogue with representative organisations of teachers and education personnel on issues related to the education policy and teachers
  • respect the rights and privacy of the family members of Esmail Abdi and the imprisoned leaders and ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Jo Grady
General Secretary UCU


Last updated: 3 February 2022