The world’s largest federation of teachers’ trade union has called for the freeing of 13 named teachers amid “dozens” jailed in Iran over demonstrations.
In a statement released Thursday, Brussels-based Education International condemned the arrests as “violations of freedom of association, the right to organize, and freedom of speech” and called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of those detained.
Among those named were Eskander Lofti, a member of the teachers’ union in Mariwan, Kurdistan province, and spokesperson for the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, which has organized the protests.
Given Iran’s inflation of at least 30 percent since United States ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions began in 2018, teachers like other Iranians have demanded higher salaries.
Their protests go back around two years, with recent demonstrations beginning in April. At least 28 were arrested in the build-up to protests planned for May 1. Iran also arrested May 7 Cecile Kohler, a French teaching union official in Iran with her husband.
The statement from Education International included a resolution from its executive board demanding respect for rights of education workers to organize and peacefully assemble.
The federation also called for the release of Esmail Abdi, former leader of the Tehran Teacher Association, who is in jail over “collusion against national security” with release not due until 2031 and who on May 1 began a hunger strike. Education International called his charges “trumped up” and said his “long imprisonment and ill treatment” had “severely affected his health.”