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Iran Increases Pressure On Teachers Ahead of Teachers Day

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Teachers protest in front of parliament in Tehran in March 2007

Iran has increased pressure on teachers over their union and social activities ahead of Teachers Day on May 2, apparently in an effort to prevent protests.

some of the members of Iran's teachers union

Two senior members of Iran's teachers union are reported to have been arrested on April 28. The head of the union, Ali Akbar Baghani, and spokesman Mohammad Beheshti Langarudi were reportedly jailed after being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry.

Ruzbeh Bolhari, who covers labor issues for RFE/RL's Radio Farda, says teachers' rights activists in several cities, including Tehran and Tabriz, have told him that they've come under pressure in recent days from the authorities, who have warned them not to take part in any protests.

In recent days, two teachers were fined for holding protests in Kermanshah and three are reported to have been arrested in Hamedan.

An activist in Tehran told me that several blogs and websites focused on teachers' issues have been blocked.

Earlier this week, the Coordinating Council of the Teachers Trade Unions called for a hunger strike on Teachers' Week (May 2-8) to protest the prison sentences and death penalties handed out to teachers.

Four teachers are reported to have been jailed in recent months and at least one, Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, is facing the death penalty for allegedly belonging to an armed opposition group.

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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