04/29/2010, 00.00
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Iranian teachers go on hunger strike to protest arrests and judicial persecution

Teachers want their “critical” colleagues released and an end to the repressive atmosphere within the Education Ministry, which is promoting spying in schools. They also want more support for public schools. Despite a ban by the authorities, independent workers’ organisations announce demonstrations and a week of labour action.
Tehran (AsiaNews) – The Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations has issued a statement saying that some of its members will start a hunger strike on 2 May, this despite a ban on labour action. At the same time, it called on workers from the green movement to join them in a week of demonstrations.

Teachers are protesting against “illegal execution and imprisonment sentences” handed to a number of teachers. According to the Tehran Review, the Teachers’ Council is demanding the “immediate and unconditional release” from prison of all teachers and a withdrawal of all legal and official action against “critical educators.”

They have called on the government to better fund public schools through its oil and gas revenues, and to stop politicising school curricula. They also want job security for teachers and an end to the repressive atmosphere in the Ministry of Education; this means an end to “promoting spies” in classrooms and schools as well as stopping all forms of persecution of “critical” educators.

The statement contends that teachers who join a demonstration or a gathering or present their ideas in the area of education or talk about the difficulties of their profession are “persecuted beyond the law and their voice does not reach anywhere.”

The statement names imprisoned teachers like Badaghi, Khastar, Davari and Momeni among the many teachers condemned to long-term prison terms, a situation that has deprived many families of their livelihood.

Similarly, teachers have indicated their opposition to the execution of other teachers, Kamangar and Ghanbari, because their death sentences are “not befitting of the Islamic Republic.”

Some unions close to the opposition said that this Saturday, 1 May, they would launch a week of labour action. International Workers' Day has never been officially recognised in Iran, but workers have always celebrated the occasion and this despite police repression.

In line with this, the authorities have banned meetings this year by independent workers’ organisations, threatening them with severe punishment.

Last year, a demonstration in Laleh Park was brutally suppressed with about 120 people arrested.

This year, the Security Ministry, police and Basij paramilitary are on maximum alert.

Despite threats, independent organisations have announced a week of action that includes demonstrations in Tehran and other cities, starting with a rally at the Ayatollah Khomeini’s tomb.

Some organisations, remembering previous episodes of police brutality, have urged their supporters to celebrate the day with small meetings inside factories.

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