Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 44-year-old lecturer of Payam e Nour University, was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. He was charged with Moharebeh (enmity towards God) for receiving unsolicited emails from an armed opposition group, to which he does not belong. While in detention at the notorious Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. Nasrin Sotoudeh was his lawyer until he was himself condemned to a six year sentence in Evin prison for “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security”.
In 2007, Prof. Ghanbari had already been detained for 120 days and sentenced to a six-month suspension from teaching and exiled from Sari to Pakdasht. Prof. Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teacher union activities until his union ITTA was dissolved in 2007.
Prof. Ghanbari’s death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran’s Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. He has since been waiting on death row. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. It means that authorities are allowed to proceed with the execution.
The Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; to drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; to comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression.