Prominent Teachers’ Rights Activist Facing Additional Years in Prison
Old Suspended Sentence Resurrected to Keep Esmail Abdi Behind Bars
Imprisoned teachers’ rights activist Esmail Abdi, who has been serving a six-year prison sentence since 2016 for his peaceful teachers’ rights activism, is facing additional years in prison with the enforcement of a suspended sentence issued a decade ago.
A high school teacher and former secretary general of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), Abdi had been handed a suspended 10-year prison sentence in the fall of 2010 on charges of “gathering information with the intention to disrupt national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
Abdi’s lawyer, Hossein Taj, who spoke to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on May 4, 2020 about the new charges, the sentence had been suspended for a period of five years and became null and void after that period. However, it has now been revived, according to Taj.
“A few days ago, I went to the Sentence Enforcement Office and I noticed that Esmail Abdi’s suspended 10-year prison sentence has again been put into force,” Abdi’s attorney told ILNA.
“I hope that with the steps I will be taking, we can nullify this 10-year sentence before his current sentence comes to an end.”
“Now that they see Mr. Abdi will soon be completing his prison term, they are scrambling to resuscitate an old case against him,” said high-tanking ITTA member Rassoul Bodaghi in an interview with Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh on May 12, 2020.
In reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, Abdi had been furloughed on March 17, 2020, but when he sought to extend his release on April 20, he was returned to Evin Prison.
The six-year sentence Abdi has been serving since November 2016 was based on typical charges used against labor rights leaders: “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security.”