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2023 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Prize Winner Introduction - CCITA
Date : 2023-05-08     Hit : 1000


 

CCITTAs activities and current status

 

 

The history of the teachers movement in Iran can be traced back to the early 20th century, specifically to the formation of the first teachers union conference in Tehran in 1921. Despite setbacks caused by the coup détat of 1953, teachers activities continued to gain momentum through the establishment of union centers in 1961. The tragic killing of Abul Hasan Khan Ali during a large teacher protest in Baharestan Square on May 2, 1961, marked a turning point in the movement, leading to the unification of teachers across the country and the declaration of May 2nd as Teachers Day. Despite limitations on their activities following the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolution, various teacher organizations were allowed to expand their activities from 1991 onwards.

 

In 2020, teachers dissatisfied with the management of education and the uncertain livelihood and status of teachers formed the founding board of the teachers’ union. With the Ministry of Interior granting permission for its establishment, the first general assembly was held to elect the board of directors and approve the associations statutes. As centers were established in different cities, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations (CCITTA) was formed by 25 unions around most of cities in Iran, composed of representatives from all centers and associations across the country.

 

CCITTA aims to create unity and solidarity among teachers, defend their material and spiritual rights, create a deep and stable relationship with other sectors of society, provide a basis for their participation in decision-making, eliminate discrimination between teachers and other government employees, fight for free education and educational justice, confront the privatization and commodification of education, strive for non-gendered educational books, and promote teaching in the mother tongue. The dedication of the teachers movement to advocating for the rights and welfare of educators has been persistent and unwavering for a period of thirty years. Notably, the progress made by the teachers movement has not come without a cost. Many leaders of this movement have been unjustly incarcerated for extended periods of time, with some still currently serving prison sentences. Furthermore, CCITTA has actively fought against the Iranian governments crackdown on free public education by calling for the unconditional and immediate drop of all charges against imprisoned trade unionists, the release of all detainees, and the obligation of the Iranian government to respect and uphold the rights of all workers, including teachers, to organize, and to freedom of association and freedom of speech, including the right to peaceful assembly, without fear of state intervention.

 

The pressures on the activists and unionists, including the teacher union activists, have maximized; Jafar Ebrahimi & Rasoul Bodaghi, two members of the CCITTA from Tehran, are being held in Evin prison in Tehran. They are sentenced to 5 and 6 years of imprisonment respectively. Hashem Khastar, a well-known veteran teacher, is currently serving his fourth year of unjust imprisonment. Despite being 70 years old, Mr. Khastar has not been granted a single day of leave and has only been allowed two in-person visits. Esmail Abdi, a teacher trade union activist who has been in jail for many years, has been revised by an appeals court and he can potentially be acquitted from all previous charges; however, the intelligence forces refuse to allow him even a temporary furlough for medical or family reasons. Eskandar( Soran) Lotfi the spokesperson for the CCITTA and a member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Trade Association of Mariwan-Kurdistan was released on a heavy bail on December 5, 2022, however their trial is coming up soon. Also, Masoud Nikkhah, and Shaban Mohamadi, two members of the CCITTA and Marivan Teachers Trade Association board of directors, were released on December 5, 2022, on heavy bails, and their trial is coming up soon. However, security forces raided Shaban Mohammadi’s home soon after but without legal documents. Shaban continues to refuse to turn himself in and has not been seen publicly since. Atekeh Rajabi, a teacher and education activist from Mashhad, has been fired from teaching due to her support for students and protesters. Atekeh engaged in a protest against the killing of children by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and declined to go to school in protest. Subsequently, security forces conducted a raid on her residence shortly after she posted a video online, and her whereabouts have been undisclosed since that time, and she has been fired from her job. Sara Siahpour, a teacher and trade union activist in Tehran, has been sentenced to six years in prison, two years of ban on travel, and two years of exclusion from trade union and legal activities. She was arrested on August 23, 2022, and released on bail on September 3, 2022. Pirouz Naami, Mahmoud Malaki, Anoush Adli, Aziz Ghasem Zadeh, and Mahmoud Sadiqi Pour have been sentenced during last year.

 

CCITTA has been calling for international solidarity to condemn the oppressive policies of the Iranian government towards teachers and trade unionists. Since May Day 2022, over 200 teachers had been arrested, most of them had been released on bail with numbers still detained and facing interrogation. The CCITTA had demanded the unconditional release of these teachers, who are facing false charges and spending most of their detention in solitary confinement. The CCITTA continue to defend the rights of students to have free access to quality public education and to fight back against the privatization of education in Iran. Also, CCITTA is fighting against the ongoing repression of trade unions and labor activists in Iran by calling for the dismissal of Iranian government representatives from the governing board of the International Labour Organization and not supporting their re-election. The CCITTA is rallying support from colleagues and trade unions around the world to make the voice of Iranian teachers heard internationally, and to fight for the rights of students to have full access to free and publicly funded education.

 

One of the most significant challenges to the teachers union in Iran began with the September 16 uprising, sparked by the death of Jina Amini, a Kurdish girl from Saqez-Kurdistan. This event triggered the largest wave of protests in decades in Iran. The CCITTA, an Iranian organization, has been protesting against the governments violent response to the mass protest movement. The governments actions have resulted in the deaths of over 600 people, including a high number of students and children, particularly among marginalized national minorities. In the uprising, at least 70 children and high school students were killed, and close to 60% were from Kurdish and Baluchis communities, two of the most marginalized national minorities. Furthermore, two teachers were killed in Saqqez and Jawanrud, two Kurdish cities, by the government security forces and four protesters were executed tow month ago. The governments security forces have also arrested approximately 20,000 people across the country. CCITTA is condemning the governments actions, including the illegal detention of students and teachers, the use of torture and forced confessions, and the execution of political prisoners. The CCITTA is calling for an end to the violence and for the government to recognize the peoples right to protest. CCITTA was showing solidarity with the people and their right to protest and was calling for the release of arrested students and an end to government violence against the people and children. The CCITTA is making it clear that they are part of the Iranian people and that the governments actions are affecting them as well. In response to the governments actions, the CCITTA announced two forms of protest actions in the first weeks of the protests: a public nationwide mourning on three days where teachers visited the graves of victims and their families and wore black clothes and other black coverings to express their sympathy and solidarity with the bereaved families, and a two-day sit-in strike where the teachers will show up in schools but refrain from attending the classrooms. The CCITTA also held a Twitter storm on November 10, 2022, with the hashtag #StopKillingChildrenInIran.

 

Another alarming situation is unfolding in Iran, where approximately 2,000 girls had been poisoned by toxic gas since November 2022. The affected girls suffered from respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue, with around 90 schools affected so far. The CCITTA has informed that the Iranian government has not considered this disaster as an urgent matter, despite approximately 600 female students being taken to the hospital. One of the reasons for the poisoning of girls in schools and some universities is the protests from girls’ schools and universities regarding mandatory hijab. It is believed by extremists within the Islamic Republic government that girls should not receive education or training for professional jobs, but instead stay at home, get married, and bring up children. The statistics provided until now indicate that approximately 230 schools have been affected across 25 provinces of the country, with more than 5,000 male and female students being poisoned, with the lowest number of cases related to boys. The release of gas in girls schools has disrupted the security of education in girls schools. CCITTA has condemned this action in the strongest possible terms. To show their disapproval, the CCITTA organized a protest across the country against the gassing in girls schools on March 7. Unfortunately, the protest was met with violence by security forces, and a number of teachers participating in the rally were arrested.

 

In conclusion, the teachers movement in Iran has a rich history marked by various achievements and setbacks. Despite facing challenges, teachers have continued to unite and fight for their rights, making significant contributions to the education system and society at large. The teachers movement remains determined to persevere and advocate for the rights of educators and the advancement of education. The CCITTA has presented a comprehensive list of demands that include creating solidarity and unity among teachers, defending the spiritual and material rights of all teachers in the country, and fostering a deep and stable relationship between teachers and other segments of society. The CCITTA emphasizes the need for teachers to participate in decision-making, resist discrimination between teachers and other government employees, fight for free education and educational justice, resist privatization and commercialization of education, promote non-gendering of educational materials, and use mother tongue in teaching to create a better future for educators and students, while promoting education as an essential human right for all. Despite these challenges, the teachers movement remains steadfast and resolute in its pursuit of a better future for education and educators in Iran.

 

 + More Read(Click) 

 

2023 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Winner Announcement, 

Hong Kong Human Rights Lawyer ‘Chow Hang-Tung’

Has been a symbol of courage and hope for the people of Hong Kong despite the yoke of National Security Law

Special Prize,‘The Coordination Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Association’

Showing solidarity against Iranian Government’s Anti-Human Rights Education Policies

 

Awards Ceremony 2023. 5. 18. (Thursday) 19:00, May 18 Democracy Square outdoor stage

 

 

 

 ▲ The Coordination Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Association

 

 

 + 2023 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Winner Announcement (2 May, 2023) 

 

 2023 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Prize Laureate, 

The Coordination Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Association

 

 

The Coordination Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Association (hereinafter referred to as CCITTA) was established in 2002 when 25 teachers organizations across Iran were integrated for the first time.

 

CCITTA has called for international solidarity to condemn Irans government policies that oppress teachers and trade union activists. More than 200 teachers have been arrested since Labor Day in May 2022, and some are still in custody and are being questioned while most have been freed on bail.

 

CCITTA continues to defend the rights of students to free access to quality public education, while fighting the privatization of education in Iran. They are also fighting against the continued repression of trade unions and activists in Iran by demanding the removal of Iranian government representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) board and not supporting their re-election.

 

They are committed to promoting the voice of Iranian teachers internationally and rallying the support of colleauges and trade unions around the world to defend the right of students to free and publicly funded education.

 

Despite that approximately 2,000 girls were poisoned with toxic gas from November 2022, the Iranian government announced that this incident was not considered an urgent issue.

In response, CCITTA organized a nationwide demonstration against the gassing in girls schools on March 7th which was forcibly suppressed by security forces and resulted in the arrests many teachers who participated in the protests. 

 

Despite the numerous hardships faced by CCITTA, they are fighting discrimination and inequality in order to ensure minimum human rights through an improved education system.

 

 

[ Korean Press Release ]

 

 

 

 

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