Unison calls for the Release of Ismail Abdi, Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association

I am writing on behalf of UNISON’s 1.3 million members in public services in the United Kingdom, to express our deep concern about the imprisonment of Ismail Abdi, Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA). Ismail Abdi is a prisoner of conscience and has been held solely for his legitimate and peaceful trade union activities.

We ask you to convey our concerns to your government and call on them to release Ismail Abdi immediately and unconditionally and drop all charges against him. In the event that he is not released we request that he is granted regular access to an independent lawyer of his own choosing.

UNISON Centre,
130 Euston Road
LONDON NW1 2AY
Tel: +44 20 7121 5767
Fax: +44 20 7121 5101
www.unison.org.uk
Email: I.Relations@unison.co.uk

To: Mr Mohammad Hassan Habibollah Zadeh
Charge’ d’Affaires
Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran
50 Kensington Court
London, W8 5DB
By email and post: iranemb.lon@mfa.gov.ir

Wednesday, 05 August 2015

Dear Mr Zadeh,

Re. Imprisonment of Ismail Abdi, Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association

I am writing on behalf of UNISON’s 1.3 million members in public services in the United Kingdom, to express our deep concern about the imprisonment of Ismail Abdi, Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA). Ismail Abdi is a prisoner of conscience and has been held solely for his legitimate and peaceful trade union activities.

We ask you to convey our concerns to your government and call on them to release Ismail Abdi immediately and unconditionally and drop all charges against him. In the event that he is not released we request that he is granted regular access to an independent lawyer of his own choosing.

I understand that Ismail Abdi was arrested on 27 June for allegedly “organising and participating in illegal gatherings”, after he enquired at the prosecutor’s office at Evin Prison about a travel ban placed upon him. He had been prevented from travelling to Armenia to apply for a visa to attend the World Congress of Education International, the global teachers’ union, in Ottawa, Canada in July 2015.

Ismail Abdi was transferred to Section 2A of Evin Prison, where he was subjected to at least 17 days of interrogation, without access to his family or lawyer. The allegation of “organising and participating in illegal gatherings” is not an offence under Iranian law, and apparently refers to a number of peaceful demonstrations held by teachers and members of the ITTA, a legally constituted entity in Iran, in protest against poor wages, the low education budget and the imprisonment of teacher trade unionists.

The detention of Ismail Abdi is in breach of the International Labour Organisation’s core conventions on freedom of association, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognises the right of everyone to form and join trade unions of their choice for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests.

I would be grateful if you would confirm that you have passed our concerns and request to your government for the immediate and unconditional release of Ismail Abdi and dropping of all charges against him.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Prentis
General Secretary

CC. Mr Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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