Court of Appeals upholds prison sentence for jailed teacher Mohammad Habibi

Mohammad Habibi

Court of Appeals upheld 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence for jailed teacher Mohammad Habibi.

Branch 36 of the Tehran’s Court of Appeals presided by judge Zargar held on October 24, sentenced Mr. Habibi to a 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence for “assembly and colusion against national security” and “spreadindg propaganda against the state”, 74 lashes, a two-year ban on leaving the country and poilitical and social activities.

Mr. Habibi’s lawyer was informed of the verdict Monday, december 24.

Trade unionist and welding teacher Mohammad Habibi, A 29-year-old member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, was first arrested on March 3, 2018 outside the school in Tehran where he taught, in front of his students.

Revolutionary Guards agents pepper sprayed and beat him during his arrest and transferred him to an undisclosed location where he remained in solitary confinement until around 19 March.

During this period, he was repeatedly interrogated while blindfolded and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment including through being slapped in the face, having his head forcibly shaved, and receiving insults and threats against him and his family.

He was then transferred to Evin prison and released on bail on April 15.

On May 10, 2018, while out on bail, Mr. Habibi was violently arrested again for participating a peaceful gathering of teachers in Tehran against the poor economic circumstances of teachers, both retired and active, and the lack of sufficient funding for public education.

On 23 July, he underwent a trial before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran which lasted only two hours and ignored marks of beatings on his body.

He was not allowed to meet with his lawyer until 10 minutes before his trial.

In August, he was convicted of several spurious national security-related charges stemming entirely from his human rights activities as a teacher trade unionist, and sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison, 74 lashes, a two-year travel ban and a two-year ban on “membership in political and social parties, groups or collectives.”

The Iranian authorities have subjected numerous teacher trade unionists to years of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy prison sentences following unfair trials, according to Amnesty International.

“In addition to Mohammad Habibi, other imprisoned teachers in Iran include Esmail Abdi and Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, both of them human rights defenders serving prison sentences for peacefully exercising their rights as trade unionists.

At least six other teachers were given a nine-month suspended prison sentence and a flogging sentence of 74 lashes in September 2018 for their peaceful participation in gatherings on 10 May 2018,” Amnesty said.