A group of independent UN rights experts on Wednesday expressed concern over the “violent crackdown” on teachers and wider civil society in Iran, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.
The experts, who are appointed by the United Nations but do not speak on its behalf, alleged that more than 80 teachers were arrested or summoned by authorities in the Islamic republic.
The reported arrests came amid repeated protests by teachers against working conditions and low wages, one held on May 1 – International Workers’ Day – when they took to the streets of several cities, including transport workers.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News Channel online or through the app.
“We are concerned by the recent increase in the arbitrary arrests of teachers, labor rights defenders and union leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” experts said in a statement to the United Nations.
“The space for civil society and free associations to carry out their legitimate work and activities is becoming impossibly narrow,” he said.
Experts also alleged that five people have been killed in widespread protests since early May due to “excessive use of force by security forces”.
He blamed the government’s decision to cut food subsidies for fueling protests along with anger over corruption.
The statement held those responsible for the use of excessive force through “a comprehensive and independent investigation.”
Iran has been mired in an economic crisis since the US reimposed sweeping sanctions in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The country has been engulfed in recent weeks by protests triggered by the partial collapse of a building on May 23 in the southwestern city of Abadan.
Officials say they have arrested 13 officials, including a mayor and two former mayors, in connection with the disaster, one of Iran’s deadliest in years.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last month that the protests were being exploited by Iran’s “enemy”, referring primarily to the United States.
“It is a false presumption that they think they can make the Iranian nation oppose the Islamic Republic,” he warned.
Iran arrests suspect allegedly involved in Tehran hacking
Iran confirms upcoming rocket launch after preparation of satellite images
Eight killed in fire at birthday party in Iran: state media