Six-year prison sentence against Teachers Union leader upheld after pessure by Revolutionary Guards

Six-year prison sentence against Teachers Union leader upheld after pessure by Revolutionary Guards

Published by on November 1, 2016

abdi-esmayilBranch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court has upheld the six-year prison sentence against Esmail Abdi, the chairman of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, confirmed Abdi in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Abdi said he believed the Appeals Court’s decision was influenced by several alleged violations added to the indictment by the Sarallah Headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards. The alleged events, which took place while he was free on bail, were “purely professional and not political in nature,” said Abdi.
“According to a ruling delivered to my lawyer on October 7 (2016), the six-year prison sentence issued by the preliminary court has been upheld on appeal,” he said. “I have been given the maximum punishment for two charges: one year for ‘propaganda against the state’ and five years for ‘collusion against national security.’”
Screenshot of document on Judiciary’s site listing additional accusations against Abdi to influence Appeals Court’s verdict
“On June 1 (2016) my lawyer and I appeared at Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court. At the end of the trial I asked for sentencing to be postponed so I could have a chance to show that our activities were purely professional and not political in nature. The Sarallah Headquarters, as the detaining authority, has had the wrong impression of our activities and has claimed that they were political in nature and directed against the state,” Abdi told the Campaign.
The labor rights leader was arrested on June 27, 2015 by the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization, a week after being barred from leaving Iran to attend an international teachers’ conference in Canada. In his preliminary trial, Abdi was sentenced in February 2016 to six years in prison by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security.”
Abdi said the Revolutionary Guards had petitioned the Appeals Court alleging he had broken the terms of his conditional release by visiting fellow labour activist Jafar Azimzadeh in the hospital.
“The Sarallah Headquarters added a statement to my case that after my release on bail I did not stop my trade union activities. As examples, they mentioned my visits with Mr. Azimzadeh and my interviews with domestic and foreign media,” he said.
Abdi was detained four times by security forces between 2006 and 2009 for his peaceful activism, and in 2011 he was given a 10-year suspended prison sentence by the Tehran Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state” and “revealing information about security matters.”
Labour activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labour unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labour leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.
In addition to Abdi, several senior members of the Teachers Trade Association of Iran have been arrested, jailed or sent into exile, including Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, Ali Akbar Baghani, and Rasoul Bodaghi.

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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
3. Demand in its resolution on human rights violations in Iran, to bring the perpetrators of 1988 massacre (one of the worst atrocities the post-war world has ever seen – Geoffrey Robertson-QC) to justice before an international tribunal.

Executions must stop.

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