A leader of the Iranian teachers movement, Alireza Hashemi has been arrested and transferred to the notorious Evin prison to serve a five year sentence, according to reports. Hashemi was sentenced in 2010. He had been accused of 'assembly and collusion against national security.' in his words however what he had been doing then was, 'pursuing the rights of families and teachers who visit jailed teachers.'

His arrest  coincides with an upsurge in the struggle of Iranian teachers for proper funding for education and for an end to repression. They have been striking and protesting in the last period, both about their very low pay - about $100 a month which is way below the poverty line - and also about discrimination in education and police repression. They carried banners saying, 'Violence, torture and execution must end!', 'Teacher's place is not in jail' and 'We have the right to organise.' They have been carrying out these actions in defiance of increased intimidation by security forces. The arrest of Hashemi is just the latest example. Other teachers' leaders and activists have also been arrested.

Last week thousands of teachers took to the streets in many different cities, including the capital Tehran. Another day of action is scheduled for May 7th, the national teachers' day in Iran.

Like teachers in many parts of the world, our Iranian colleagues, who are putting themselves in harm's way as they fight for public education and democracy deserve our support. Please sign the petition to free Alireza Hashemi here.