A number of jailed Iranian teachers have issued a statement criticizing the authorities for incarcerating teachers because of their trade union activities, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
The statement was timed to mark Teachers' Day on May 2 and was posted on the website of Advar Tahkim Vahdat, the alumni organization of Iran's largest reformist student group. It says Iranian teachers demand the recognition of their right to form a trade union, to hold assemblies, and to criticize the authorities.
The signatories of the statement also say they do not want to return to schools where they would not be permitted to teach because of their heterodox views. Instead, they want to be assigned to classes where the first lesson to be taught is to think freely.
"How can we teach our students courage when they see that the reward for criticism is imprisonment?" the signatories ask.
The signatories include Advar Tahkim Vahdat spokesman Abdollah Momeni and Mohammad Davari, a member of the central council of the Teachers' Organization of Iran.
Both were arrested during the crackdown that followed the June 2009 presidential election and are currently serving five-year terms in Tehran's Evin prison on security charges.
Iran-based teacher Majid Pajoohfam told Radio Farda on May 2 that the activities of teachers' unions have never been political, although the regime believes otherwise. He said teachers merely want to defend their rights, but the regime considers that a security issue.
In May 2010, Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar was executed in Tehran for alleged involvement with opposition groups.