Despite the universality of human rights, many States still interpret their obligations as being applicable only to a certain group of people. According to VDPA, the full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights must be applied to all, including teachers.
The current period is an important one for teachers in Iran as the 23rd of September was the first day of school and October 5th is the World Teachers’ Day. However there are many teachers who are in jail as a consequence of their trade union activities in Iran. Teachers should be passing on their knowledge to the next generation instead of spending their life in prison.
Rasoul Bodaghi who was expected to be freed from prison in August after serving 6 years of imprisonment, was sentenced to another three years. This is not the only example of teachers as prisoners of conscience in Iran. Ali Akbar Baghani, Ali-Reza Hashemi and Mahmood Beheshti all union leaders, are also sentenced to 5 years. Mohammad-Reza Niknejad, Mehdi Bohlooli and Mansoor Moosavi who are well known educational experts and used to write in educational columns of newspapers, are arrested. The therapies of Mansoor Moosavi who was already on sick leave, has been stopped after his arrest. Esmail Abdi, the secretary-general of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association was arrested following his attempt to obtain a visa to attend the Education International 7th World Congress in Ottawa, Canada.
The Iranian activist of the Teachers Trade Association held rallies earlier this year to demand higher wages. The income of around 80 per cent of teachers is now below the poverty-line in Iran. Teachers should be able to live a decent life with full dignity. Other demands of Iranian teachers’ trade unionists are freedom of teacher prisoners of conscience and changing the controlled environment they have to teach in.