The Iranian Teachers Union is challenging the arrest of a member of its executive board, Mahmoud Bagheri, in a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that the letter to Ayatollah Larijani declares that Bagheri is one of the country’s model teachers and calls his incarceration “incredible and undeserved.”
The physics teacher has been sentenced to a total of nine and a half years in prison for two separate files. Even though the sentence was suspended, he was arrested on Monday to serve out his time.
The Teachers Union condemns the “unprecedented” sentence, saying Bagheri, in addition to being a model physics teacher with 27 years of lauded experience, is also a war veteran who served 18 months at the front during the Iran-Iraq War.
His arrest, according to the letter, has been a shock to his colleagues, students and the teaching community in general, as he is known as a “peaceful but concerned supporter of teachers’ rights.”
The union emphasizes that Bagheri is “completely innocent and his arrest is a severe blow to him and his academic community.”
The letter calls for his immediate release and a review of his file, saying: “Be certain that prison is not the place for people such as Bagheri, as they are the precious assets of this country.”
Bagheri was first arrested six years ago during a teachers’ demonstration in front of Parliament and, after a month in prison, he was given a suspended sentence of three and a half years.
He was later arrested in July of 2011 for his work with the Teachers Union and, after three months in Evin Prison, he was handed another six years in jail, which was later approved in the appellate court.