Saleh Nikbakht, who represents Eskandar Lotfi, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on June 10 that his client and other teachers are being detained illegally as there has been no notification giving the legal reasoning for their incarceration and any extension of it.
“I do not have access to my client,” Nikbakht said, adding that he had been informed of the transfer of his client to the court the Evin prison in Tehran. He also said that he fears for Lofti’s health due to the hunger strike.
Lotfi was arrested on May 3 along with several other teachers and workers’ union activists for meeting with two French trade union activists. They were originally held in the western city of Marivan. It was not clear if all of the teachers had been transferred, or only Lotfi.
Iranian teachers — along with workers from other sectors as well as pensioners — have been taking to the streets across the country to demand better pay and working conditions.
In response, the authorities have summoned, detained, and jailed a growing number of protesters and activists, actions that have failed to stop the rallies.
On May 12, two French nationals visiting Iran were also arrested on charges of “organizing a protest” with the purpose of creating “unrest” in Iran.
Iran has attempted to link the French nationals — French teachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her husband, Chuck Paris — to the protesting Iranian teachers. The arrests were largely seen as an attempt to discredit the rallies and increase pressure on the Iranian teachers’ union to stop the protests.
The arrests of the foreigners, which was announced just as an EU official arrived in Tehran, could also be aimed at pressuring the bloc amid negotiations over reviving a 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
Tehran has been repeatedly accused of detaining foreigners and dual nationals to extract concessions from the West.