Hashem Khastar, a teachers’ union leader who was abducted yesterday by members of the Ministry of Intelligence has been kept in custody while hospitalized at the Ibn-Sina Psychiatric Hospital in Mashhad, northeast Iran, according to his wife, Sedigheh Maleki.
“One of the nurses told me that Mr Khastar was admitted to one of the emergency rooms in the hospital and has been banned from any visits on the order of security officials,” Maleki said.
She emphasizes her husband was not ill and his transfer to this hospital is very suspicious.
“He was completely healthy and after retiring spent many of his days farming. The only medication he consumed were blood pressure pills. Khastar being hospitalized in an emergency section of a special facility for psychiatric patients means [authorities] injected a special type of medication with the intention of killing him, or he had been severely injured under torture or during his arrest,” Mrs. Maleki added.
Seyed Hashem Khastar, had gone missing since Tuesday. His vehicle was found on Tuesday outside the city of Mashhad, northeast Iran, near an orchard. His mobile phone was turned off.
Iranian authorities have ramped up their crackdown on education activists after two-days nationwide teachers’ strike.
Two teachers remained behind bars while an unknown number of teachers were summoned to Intelligence Ministry’s offices in Tehran, Qazvin, Bojnourd, Saqqez, Marivan, Kermanshah and Aligoudarz, and have been ordered to appear on October 20 in court.
During the past few weeks, Khastar had made public calls for widespread measures aimed at having jailed teachers released.
In a letter he had thanked the striking teachers and had strongly criticized the Iranian regime.
“We don’t have guns. Our guns are our pens and our words and our gatherings and sit ins. The guns are in the hands of those who protect lawless, tyrant, cruel rulers instead of defending the rule of law. They defend those who steal millions and yet arrest petty thieves and cut off their hands and legs,” he wrote bravely.
Hashem Khastar is an agricultural engineer, former head of the Mashad Teachers’ Union, and a former teacher at the Agriculture Technical High School.
Khastar had time and again been harassed by operatives linked to the Iranian regime for defending the rights of Iran’s teachers. On numerous occasions, he was arrested by intelligence agents and placed behind bars.
He was arrested on 16 September 2009 while walking in a park and was taken to Vakilabad Prison. Khastar was sentenced to six years in prison. An appeals court later reduced his sentence to two years. Eventually, he was released on September 10, 2011.