The TUC is supporting an Amnesty International campaign for the immediate release of jailed Iranian teacher and trade union leader Esmail Adbi. Please support this action and encourage your friends and workmates to do the same.
We last wrote about Esmail at the end of January, when he was returned to jail after medical furlough.
Since then President Trump’s ‘bull in a china shop’ approach to international tensions has hogged the headlines, especially his decision to pull out of the nuclear safety deal with Iran last week.
Amid the acrimony resulting from that move, it’s important to remember the trade unionists and workers who are the victims of the Iranian regime.
The International Trade Union Confederation classes Iran as a ‘level 5’ country – the worst ranking for a non-failed state – because of its appalling human and trade union rights record.
And people like Esmail Abdi are likely to suffer further if Trump carries out his threat to reimpose sanctions on the Iranian regime.
Jailed for defending workers' rights
Maths teacher Esmail was arrested in June 2015 on his way to the global conference for teacher trade unions in Canada.
He was held in solitary confinement for 40 days without being charged, denied access to a lawyer, and sentenced to six years in jail after an unfair trial.
Since 24 April, he has been on hunger strike to protest his appalling treatment in prison and the unjustified nature of his imprisonment, as well as the criminalisation of trade unions in Iran.
Esmail has been denied contact with his family and lawyer since he went on hunger stike, while the brutal prison conditions were taking a toll on his health even before it began.
Earlier this month, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady wrote to the Iranian Ambassador in Britain to call for Esmail’s release and for the Iranian authorities:
“to end the misuse of the criminal justice system against those who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association, and we request that the Iranian authorities respect and protect the right of everyone to form and join the trade union of their choice, which is guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which Iran has ratified.”
Trade union solidarity
When TUC affiliate the NASUWT awarded Esmail its International Solidarity Award this Easter, general secretary Chris Keates called Esmail:
“an inspiration to teachers and trade unionists across the world, through his courage to stand up for trade union and human rights in the face of oppressive and harsh treatment. … Esmail’s courage and determination to continue to fight for quality education in Iran, despite the terrible personal cost he has had to endure, is truly humbling.”
Amnesty International have also made Esmail a ‘prisoner of conscience’. Now they are joining the TUC in calling for the Iranian authorities to release Esmail Abdi immediately and unconditionally.
In the meantime, they are demanding that he has access to a qualified health professional who can provide health care in compliance with medical ethics.
Please support this campaign today and spread the word about Esmail’s plight.