Esmail Abdi
Esmail Abdi

Iranian education union leader Esmail Abdi released on furlough

published 11 January 2018 updated 4 March 2022

Education International has been notified that Tehran teacher union leader Esmail Abdi was released on furlough from Evin prison on 9 January, a temporary reprieve from his six-year sentence.

Abdi’s initial arrest happened in connection with his union activities for the rights of teachers and to prevent his participation in the 2015 Education International (EI) World Congress in Ottawa, Canada. Abdi was targeted by the Iranian authorities for his union activism and campaign for free and accessible public education for all.

He was convicted of national security offences in February 2016 after organising peaceful protests. During his incarceration in Evin Prison, reports indicated that Abdi had been kept in harsh detention conditions and was denied communication with his family and lawyer.

EI: Government must respect union rights

While EI welcomes this release on furlough, we bear in mind that Esmail Abdi is still serving a six-year prison sentence and that he may be rearrested any moment. This happened last year, when he was released on bail on 25 June only to be recalled to prison one month later.

Education International therefore reiterates its global solidarity call to request that the charges against Abdi be dropped, allowing his unconditional release. EI calls on affiliates to support the “Write for Rights” appeal for Abdi by clicking here.

It demands that Iran’s government lifts all sanctions against education unionists for their legitimate trade union activities, and that it respects fundamental human and trade unions rights for all workers and public servants.