Wednesday, 20 April 2016
According to Amnesty International, Ismail Abdi, prisoner of conscience and Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), has been sentenced on charges related to his peaceful trade union activities. He is awaiting an appeal date and has announced he will go on hunger strike on International Workers’ Day on 1 May to protest the repression of trade unionists.
According to the Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International, Ismail Abdi was arrested on 27 June 2015 and transferred to solitary confinement in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin Prison, run by the Revolutionary Guards, and interrogated for at least 17 days without access to his family or lawyer.
In February, he was informed that he had been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on the charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. The charges stem from his trade union activities, including peaceful demonstrations held by teachers and members of the ITTA outside the Iranian parliament in May 2015 in protest against poor wages, low education budget, and imprisonment of teacher trade unionists. Ismail Abdi has appealed the verdict and is awaiting a date for his hearing. His trial was in breach of international fair trial standards; in particular he was denied access a lawyer of his choice during the entire investigative phase and his lawyer was not allowed to obtain and review his court file before the trial”, says Amnesty.
The Human Rights organization says, ‘In April, Ismail Abdi wrote an open letter, in which he said that he intends to go on hunger strike on 1 May 2016, stating “according to the evidence used to issue the verdicts against [me] you could say that any efforts…to improve the lives and livelihood of teachers and workers in Iran are considered acts against national security”. He may face a total of 16 years’ imprisonment if his new sentence is upheld. This is due to a previous suspended 10-year sentence that he received following a 2011 conviction on trumped up national security charges, related to his peaceful trade union activities.’