The secretary-general of Iran’s Teachers' Organization was arrested on April 20 and transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison to serve a five-year sentence, Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
Alireza Hashemi was sentenced to prison in 2010 for “pursuing union demands” and “meeting with relatives of jailed teachers,” his deputy, Tahereh Naghiyi, told ILNA.
Naghiyi said Hashemi had been convicted of charges that included “acting against national security.”
The organization said the move was an attempt to radicalize the teachers' movement, which it said has been following a rational path.
The organization also called on the government of Iranian President Hassan Rohani to listen to the voices of the teachers calling for greater rights and to prevent the creation of a “security [state] atmosphere” in the country.
Hashemi’s arrest comes amid what activists describe as increased state pressure on teachers calling for higher wages.
The pressure is reportedly connected to last week’s protests by thousands of teachers in more than two dozen cities, including the capital Tehran.
The teachers who took part in the silent rallies on April 18 called for increased wages and also for the release of their jailed colleagues.
In recent months, Iranian teachers have held several protests against low wages and inadequate living conditions.
A number of them have been arrested and jailed for calling for more rights. They include Rasoul Bodaghi and Alireza Ghanbadi, who remain in jail.
-- Roozbeh Bolhari