The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF) is extremely concerned over the recent arrest and detention, under fraudulent national security charges, of teacher activists in Iran for their peaceful political activism to fight for their improved livelihood.

We particularly condemn the harsh sentences against Jafar Azimzadeh, Mahmoud Beheshti Langaroudi, and Ismail Abdi who have been sentenced to long prison terms, merely for their peaceful activities to secure better wages and living-conditions for Iranian teachers and workers.

We warn that these prisoners of conscience are in a serious health condition due to their hunger strike in protest to their unjust sentences along with the Iranian authorities' ill-treatment and harassment of their families, fellow teachers, workers, and union members.

The notion that advocacy and peaceful activities meant to improve the livelihood of Iranian teachers and workers constitute acts against national security is not only ridiculous but appalling. Such claim by the Iranian authorities can only be interpreted as silencing legitimate demand and social dissents under the pretext of national security.

These repressive measures coincide with a recent warning by a group of UN Human Rights expertsthat over a dozen political prisoners in Iran, including some prominent human rights defenders are at risk of death in detention due to their worsening health conditions and the continued refusal by the Iranian authorities to provide them with medical treatment.” The Iranian authorities’ rationale for withholding treatment to these prisoners is unacceptable especially since these prisoners “allegedly have been arrested, detained and convicted purely for their peaceful exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights.

We join these UN experts in reiterating the situation of political prisoners, and activists.

The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF) calls for the immediate release of political prisoners in Iran, including the cases mentioned above.

We also urge the UK government and the relevant UN organs to condemn the Iranian regime's extensive use of national security charges to silence legitimate opposition and popular dissent. This in turn will pressure the Iranian authorities to release all political prisoners and respect the Iranian people's right to freedom of expression, assembly, and peaceful protests.

British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF)

26 May 2016