As many as a 1,000 teachers are behind bars in Iran, according to the Ministry of Education’s deputy head, Mostafa Nasseri Zanjani.
“According to figures in a report published by the prison organization, there are currently about 1,000 teachers in jail in Iran,” the official said. “Among them are teachers that went bankrupt and those that were imprisoned because of family issues.”
Zanjani did not provide further information as to what he meant by “family issues.” According to the report, Zanjani said none of the educators were imprisoned for political reasons.
The official’s remarks came after a tumultuous few months for the country’s teachers, many of whom have taken to the streets on a number occasions, especially during March and April, to protest against budget cuts and a lack of support from the government.
In response to queries about the ministry’s efforts to release the teachers, Zanjani said, “If these prisoners want the support of the Ministry of Education, it really depends on them.”
“The teachers in jail need to send a request to the ministry and if his or her charges are administrative in nature, then the ministry can step in and help,” he told Arman news agency. “But if the charges aren’t and they’ve committed fraud or something similar, then the ministry can only offer advice if the teachers request it.”
In recent months, several high profile members of the education community have been arrested. On April 18, following a large teachers’ protest in Khuzestan province just days before, Alireza Hashemi Sanjani was arrested and taken to Evin Prison. Then on June 27, authorities also jailed Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Union.
These and other arrests partly explain the substantial rise in the number of protests organized by teachers in the Islamic Republic over the past decade.
Read the original article in Persian
To read more stories like this, sign up to our weekly email.