No guarantee of rights

Same as last year

Workers' rights violations

Right to free speech and assembly

On May Day 2022, workers across Iran held protest marches despite attempts at repression by government forces. In total, over 230 teachers were arrested for taking part in May Day demonstrations.

In Tehran, despite the presence of armed security forces which had surrounded the Islamic parliament, a number of teachers marched to one of the city’s parks, holding banners of protest and posters of imprisoned teachers to mark the day of freedom and equality.

In Bushehr, police forces stormed a gathering of teachers in the morning, beating and arresting at least 12 of them.

On 12 May, teachers in more than 40 cities across Iran gathered to protest against the continued detention of their colleagues. In Yasuj, security forces were deployed in front of the General Directorate of Education to prevent teachers from gathering, and when the teachers tried to gather and protest, more than 50 were arrested and detained.

Right to civil liberties

In February 2023, several workers at the Isfahan Steel Company in Iran were arrested amid rallies taking place near the industrial complex about workplace conditions. Riot police broke up a rally during the strike by hundreds of workers at the country’s third-largest steel producer. The workers had been on strike since 25 February, demanding better conditions and higher salaries. The Steelworkers Union said workers had no information about the status of their arrested colleagues.

Right to civil liberties

On 8 May 2022, teacher Cécile Kohler and retired teacher Jacques Paris, both members of the FO Federation of National Education and Vocational Training (FNEC FP FO) in France, were arrested on allegations of espionage and fomenting insecurity in Iran. They were arrested at the airport of Tehran as they were about to leave the country, after a private trip for which they had obtained a short-stay visa.

It was not until 11 May that Iranian television, citing the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, announced the arrest of Jacques Paris and Cécile Kohler on the pretext of their having “entered the country with the aim of trigger [sic] chaos and destabilize [sic] society”.

On 6 July, the two were formally “accused of association and collusion with the aim of undermining the security of the country”.

For seven months, and despite the efforts of their families and the French government, Kohler’s and Paris’ whereabouts remained unknown. In November 2022, they were finally allowed a brief consular visit and a call to their respective families. These brief contacts confirmed that both Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris were maintained in poor detention conditions at the Evin prison, and that their mental and physical health had severely deteriorated. During the first three months of their illegal detention, they were kept in isolation. Since November, neither the French embassy nor their families have received any news.

Right to civil liberties

In August of 2022, three teacher union activists were arrested at the May Day protests and illegally detained. Eskandar Lotfi, Shaban Mohammadi and Masoud Nikkhah were all members of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Trade Association of Mariwan, in the Province of Kurdistan, Iran. Lofti is also the spokesperson for the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA). Disproportionate bails for their release were imposed on the three and they still face trial.

While in detention, Lofti, together with other detained teachers, went on hunger strike to protest the illegal and repressive actions of the security forces. He was urged by his colleagues to end his hunger strike after 10 days due to his severely deteriorating health conditions. The families of many imprisoned labour activists also issued a joint open letter to denounce their continued illegal imprisonment and the unacceptable detention conditions.

Several of the teachers were arrested around May Day and remained in detention, sometimes in solitary confinement, such as Rasoul Bodaghi, Jafar Ebrahimi and Mohammad Habibi.

The teacher rights’ activists were arrested in the wave of repression that targeted educators all over the country around May Day 2022. The authorities were desperate to stop the peaceful trade union demonstrations over teachers’ poor wages, the inadequate education budget and the imprisonment of teacher trade unionists. The authorities have since arrested, summoned, investigated and/or interrogated more than 200 teachers on baseless and false national security charges, violating their rights to freedom of association, to organise, and to freedom of speech.

Right to justice

In Iran, long-time labour rights defenders Haleh Safarzadeh and Alireza Saghafi were arrested on 11 March 2022 and immediately taken to Kachuei Prison in Karaj to serve one-year sentences dating from 2019. Safarzadeh, a teacher, and Saghafi, a writer and auto mechanic, work with the Center for Workers’ Rights, informing workers of their fundamental rights and defending victims of repression.

The two were first arrested, together with other workers’ rights advocates, on 26 April 2019, in the run-up to planned May Day celebrations across Iran. They were tried and convicted later that year on spurious charges of ‘propaganda against the system’.

Haleh Safarzadeh was finally given conditional release from prison on 10 August after serving five months in prison. However, Alireza Saghafi remained imprisoned, despite repeated requests for medical furlough to treat his serious health problems.

Prosecution of union leaders for participating in strikes

In Iran, thousands of oil workers went on strike in cities across the country in early October 2022. Workers at the Hengam petrochemical facilities in Bushehr went on strike on 10 October in support of the protests taking place across the country against the government. On 11 October, police violently cracked down on strikers and arrested many workers. Security and riot police maintained a heavy presence in the southern industrial sites. More than 30 workers in the oil production industry were arrested, including Hadi Moulai, Ali Mahmoudi, Mehdi Jahanbakhshi, Noorali Bahadri, Farid Koravand, Kambiz Mohammadi, Shahin Najafi, Ahmed Pour, Farshid Moradi, Ali Shapouri and Omid Kuravand. By the end of October, over 500 contract workers in the oil and gas industries of Asaluyeh and Abadan were arrested, and over 100 were sacked.

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