Teachers’ rights activist Rassoul Badaghi, who was near the end of serving a six-year prison sentence for his peaceful labor activism, has been condemned to an additional three years in prison.
Teachers’ rights activist Rassoul Badaghi
Badaghi’s lawyer, Peyman Haj-Mahmoud Attar, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the new sentence, issued by Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, is for “insulting Imam Khomeini and the Supreme Leader” (two years in prison) and “propaganda against the state” (one year).
“We will lodge a complaint within the 20-day limit and ask the Appeals Court to release him on bail until a final sentence is issued,” Attar said, adding that when Badaghi’s six-year sentence was about to end in August, 2015, he was transferred from Rajaee Shahr Prison to Evin Prison and the new case was opened against him by the Iranian Judiciary.
Rassoul Badaghi, a teacher and board member of the Iranian Teachers Association, was arrested on September 2, 2009, for his labor rights activities and transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison along with other prisoners of conscience Issa Saharkhiz and Davoud Solaymani.
On August 4, 2010, Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison and banned him from social activities for five years for “attending gatherings with the intent to disrupt national security,” and “propaganda against the state.”
Independent unions are not allowed to operate in Iran, strikers often lose their jobs and risk arrest, and labor leaders who attempt to organize workers and bargain collectively are prosecuted under national security charges and sentenced to long prison sentences.
There have been numerous teacher protests in Iran over the past year, with thousands of educators protesting in cities across Iran at various times during the year for better wages and for the release of teachers who have been imprisoned because of their labor activism. Teachers are paid below the official poverty line in Iran.
Asked about the arrests of teachers following these protests, the Rouhani administration’s Spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, told the Etemad newspaper on September 17, 2015, that “we face some limitations and restrictions regarding this matter but nevertheless we feel responsible to do everything we can to reach a satisfactory outcome.”
In addition to Badaghi, there are at least six other teachers currently being held in prison for their peaceful labor activism: Ali Akbar Baghbani, Mehdi Bohlouli, Mohammad Reza Niknejad, Mohmmad Beheshti, Esmail Abdi, and Alireza Hashemi.
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