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Free Reza Shahabi Now; Time to increase pressures for freedom of all jailed labour activists in Iran

 

 

• Reza Shahabi’s family demands his freedom
• Who's Reza Shahabi?
• Sample Protest letter

 

Reza Shahabi’s Defense Committee’s Communiqué number sixty: Shahabi’s family demands his freedom to prevent his paralysis

(Copied to workers, workers’ organizations, the media, government and judicial officials)

Workers, labor organizations and all people of conscious,

As you are all aware, Reza Shahabi, a transit worker and a member of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin Prison since June 12, 2010, only because of his advocacy for workers’ rights and supporting the demands of his fellow workers.

During these years of unjust imprisonment, Reza has suffered from an array of health problems, including but not limited to: decaying of a few lower vertebrates, problems with back and neck disks, liver and kidney complications, numbness of feet and hands, heart issues and dental problems.
Because of such amalgamation of health issues, a cervical spine operation was performed on Reza in July 2012, but despite his physicians’ recommendations for further hospital care and physiotherapy, he was returned to his cell, which has further caused many problems.

After close to three and half years of incarceration, the coroner has examined Reza’s conditions inside Evin prison, and based on an MRI scan has determined that three lower vertebrates have been damaged and are in need of immediate surgery in a hospital. It should be noted that Reza has been suffering from lower back pain for months, his left foot becoming almost paralyzed as a result, with very little mobility left in it.

Due to numbness of left foot and severe back pain, on October 19, 2013, Reza was transferred to "Imam Khomeini Hospital". After all examinations, physicians have once again recommended that Reza is in no condition to be returned to a prison environment, and is in need of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison. They have also warned that unless such treatments are provided there is a very high possibility that his entire left side could be paralyzed.

We, the family of Reza Shahabi, his wife and two children, declare that based on doctors’ recommendations, Reza cannot endure prison conditions at all and must be released immediately. We hold security and judiciary officials responsible for Reza's severe condition. We ask all labor organizations and activists in Iran and around the world to continue protesting against Reza's prolonged incarceration.

Published by Reza Shahabi Defence Committee- October 23, 2013
Phone number for Committee’s spokesperson, Mr., Mahomud Salehi: 09357353412
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.k-d-shahabi.blogspot.com
Translated by IASWI

 

Who is Reza Shahabi?

Reza Shahabi is the Treasurer and Executive Board member of the Syndicate of workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, known as "Vahed Syndicate". "Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company" belongs to the Municipality of Tehran and has about seventeen thousand employees.

Reza, born in 1972, is married to Robabeh Rezaei and has a son, Mohammad Amin, and a daughter, Shirin, both adolescents.

Reza has been incarcerated in notorious Evin prison since June 2010. In an open letter in June 2012, Reza stated: "My name is Reza Shahabi. I’m a member of the board of directors if Tehran Bus Workers' Syndicate and its secretary treasurer. Due to my trade union activities I was arrested and incarcerated on June 12, 2010. I was brutally attacked and beaten during my arrest, and severely afflicted, physically and psychologically. Subsequently I spent eleven months in solitary confinement, without my family having any information about my whereabouts during that entire period of time. Finally I’ve been sentenced to six years of imprisonment, banned for five years from any trade union activities and a fine of 7,000,000 Toman. Because of all the beatings and physical and psychological abuses I have endured, I’m suffering from severe back and neck pain, and the left side of my body is practically paralyzed."

Reza received these unjust sentences based on sham charges of “gathering and colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”.

Reza Shahabi's health deteriorated significantly after severe beatings and mistreatment following his arrest. As a result, he underwent cervical spine operation on July 24, 2012 in a hospital but shortly after that he was transferred to Evin prison again

Reza Shahabi was temporarily released on bail on January 7, 2013 after more than three weeks of hunger strike in Evin prison that mobilized national and international solidarity and support. He was forced to return to prison on April 15, 2013 despite his need for continued intensive medical care.

Reza's health has rapidly been worsening since his return to prison. A coroner has recently examined Reza’s conditions inside Evin prison, and based on an MRI scan has determined that three lower vertebrates have been damaged and are in need of immediate surgery in a hospital. It should be noted that Reza has been suffering from lower back pain for months, his left foot becoming almost paralyzed as a result, with very little mobility left in it.

Due to numbness of left foot and severe back pain, on October 19, 2013, Reza was transferred to a hospital. After all examinations, physicians have once again recommended that Reza is in no condition to be returned to a prison environment, and is in need of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison. They have also warned that unless such treatments are provided there is a very high possibility that his entire left side could be paralyzed.

Reza has been a symbol of workers' resistance and militancy. He has openly been critical of the unjust practices against him and his fellow prisoners. He has continued to stand firm in support for workers' rights and freedoms. He has been paying a big price for this. According to the latest statement that Reza has received, the release date from prison is marked for May 2015, and if he does not pay a fine (7 million toman) it will be extended to May 2016; whereas in the previous statement by the Appeal Court, the release date was March 2014.

The Iranian government is pursuing, among other repressive policies and practices, a strategy of slow and gradual death towards political prisoners, by making them subject to severe torture, medical neglect and gross mistreatments by prison authorities.

*We are urging everyone to do whatever you can to pressure the Iranian government to free Reza Shahabi.

Free Reza Shahabi Now!

* Prepared by International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran
www.workers-iran.org

Sources: IASWI, Reza Shahabi Defence Committee, Vahed Syndicate

 

Free Reza Shahabi Now


(See Sample Protest Letter below)

I (we) are writing to protest the unjust continued incarceration of Reza Shahabi. Reza Shahabi is the Treasurer and Executive Board member of the Syndicate of workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company. Reza has been incarcerated in notorious Evin prison since June 12, 2010.

Reza was charges with “gathering and colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. These are all sham charges. Reza Shahabi is a worker and labour activist.

Reza Shahabi's health deteriorated significantly after severe beatings and mistreatment following his arrest. As a result, he underwent cervical spine operation on July 24, 2012. Shahabi was temporarily released on bail on January 7, 2013 after over three weeks of hunger strike in Evin prison that mobilized national and international solidarity and support. He was forced to return to prison on April 15, 2013 despite his need for continued intensive medical care. His health has rapidly been worsening since his return to prison. In September 2013, the medical examiner of Tehran has recommended that Reza Shahabi’s treatment to be done under a specialist care and outside of prison. Due to numbness of left foot and severe back pain, on October 19, 2013, Reza was transferred to a hospital. After all examinations, physicians have once again recommended that Reza is in no condition to be returned to a prison environment, and is in need of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison. They have also warned that unless such treatments are provided there is a very high possibility that his entire left side could be paralyzed.

In addition, according to the latest statement that Reza has received, the release date from prison is marked for May 2015, and if he does not pay a fine (7 million toman) it will be extended to May 2016; whereas in the previous statement the release date was March 2014.

I (we) strongly condemn the unjust arrest and sentence against Reza Shahabi and other labour activists. I (we) also denounce ongoing persecution and arrests of labour activists in Iran. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of Reza Shahabi and all detained labour activists in Iran., including Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarahi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, and Pedram Nasrolaahi.

Name/Organization/Position:

Please send your protests letters to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;
Twitter: @khamenei_ir; ‏@HassanRouhani
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***

 

we are highlighting the challenges relating to the total disregard of the plight of jailed labour activists in Iran and the continued harassment of labour activists both in jail and outside the prison system. In particular, we are calling on all labour and progressive human rights' organizations and activists to increase pressures on the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) for the freedom of imprisoned labour activists. No labour activists have been released in recent months despites the IRI's public relations stunt and selective release of a few political prisoners in recent weeks. All political prisoners must be released immediately. Please take a moment to call for an immediate freedom of Reza Shahabi, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarahi, Behhnam Ebrahimzadeh, Pedram Nasrollahi, Rasoul Bodaghi and other imprisoned labour activists in Iran.

Below is Updates about the situation of jailed labour activists as of May 6, 2014:

2056316281

 

- Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, is currently serving an eleven-year prison sentence in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were initially arrested in June 2011. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz later sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction of charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were both arrested in mid-January 2012 to begin serving their sentences. While in prison, Shahrokh Zamani, was violently forced to attend a court hearing on May 1, 2013, in which he was faced with a sham charge of insulting “the leader” (Ali Khamenei, The Supreme Leader of the IRI). Shahrokh was taken again to the court on September 8, 2013 and had to defend himself against the allegations that he has insulted Ali Khamenei in prison. On 10 March 2014 Mr. Zamani was unexpectedly forced to relocate from Gohardahst prison to Rajaie prison, with no explanation or justification for such a move. In response to this illegal relocation Mr. Zamani went on a hunger strike which lasted for almost a month. During his hunger strike there was an effective solidarity campaign actively supporting his demand for not being removed from Gohardahst and due to the popular pressures the officials in charge of his case had to reverse their decision. Mr. Zamani lost about twenty kilograms of his weight and even his old friends have said they could not recognize him due to the severe weight loss. Mr. Zamani participated in a May 1st celebration and event in Gohardahst prison and delivered the speech for the proceedings.

- Mohammad Jarahi, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, an independent labour organization campaigning for the establishment of independent trade unions in Iran, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Mohammad Jarahi is in Tabriz prison, north-west Iran. Mohammad Jarahi and Shahrokh Zamani were initially arrested in June 2011. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz later sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction of charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were both arrested in mid-January 2012 to begin serving their sentences. Mohammad Jarahi, serving his third year in Tabriz prison, has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Mohammad reportedly had part of his thyroid gland removed in a surgery about three month ago at a hospital in Tabriz. Based on the final results of the tests and the detection of the Medical Commission, it is essential that Mohammad Jarahi sooner rather than later be transferred to a hospital outside the prison in order to be treated properly. Despite doctors' diagnosis and follow-ups of the family of Mohammad Jarahi, officials in Tabriz prison and judicial authorities refuse to let him out of prison and his hospitalization and treatment are not approved.

- Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, member of The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations, and a Children's Rights advocate, has been incarcerated in Evin prison since June 2010. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was initially sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in December 2010 on national security charges. This was overturned by the Supreme Court, and after a retrial he was sentenced to five years in prison after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”, apparently in connection with his labour activities on behalf of The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations. This sentence was upheld on appeal in October 2011. Bahman Ebrahimzadeh, who was given a temporary release in order to care for his 14 year old son who is suffering from cancer, was under heavy pressure to return to prison, while his only son is bedridden and needs his father on his side. Latest reports indicate that, despite Behnam's pleas and calls by many labour activists and organizations in Iran, Behnam was forced to return to Evin prison on Monday, August 26, 2013. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh Defence Committee reports on September 15, 2013 that after Behnam was transferred to prison from his temporary medical leave for his son, the prison authorities decided to open a new case against him for reporting to the prison a few days after the deadline. Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was one of the inmates severely attacked during the 17 April raid on political prisoners of Evin. After the attack he and nine other injured political prisoners were sent to solitary confinement in ward 240 for fifteen days. After he was briefly returned to the general prison population of Evin, on May 2, 2014 he was sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin again.

- After 19 months of imprisonment, Pedram Nasrollahi, a well-known labour activist in Iran's Kurdistan Province and an active member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form workers' Organizations, was freed on April 19, 2014. He has been arrested and prosecuted many times in the past number of years. The General as well as Revolutionary Courts in Sanandaj city originally sentenced Pedram to three years imprisonment in July 2012. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment for "acting against the Islamic Republic by working with one of the opposition parties", which he absolutely denies, and in addition was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for being "a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations", which is not supposed to be a charge at all. After appealing the original sentences, the appeal court reduced his sentence to 19 months. In relation to the latest charges against him in 2012, Pedram Nasrollahi was first arrested on March 8, 2012 for 48 days; he was eventually released on bail of 70 million toman. After his sentences had been reduced by the appeal court to 19 months, he went to the prosecutor's office to further pursue his case, on November 14, 2012, but he got arrested and sent to the prison.

- According to the Amnesty International, Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Tehran Teachers’ Trade Associations, which is affiliated to Education International, was arrested in September 2009. A teacher for 20 years, he was sentenced to six years in prison for “propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding with intent to disturb national security”, both vaguely worded charges. In January 2011, the Appeal Court confirmed Rasoul Bodaghi’s sentence and banned him from taking part in any civil society activities for five years.

Afshin Nadimi and Mehrdad Sabouri, both labour activists and members of the "Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations", were sentenced to prison by Branch one of the Islamic Revolution Court in Sanandaj on December 25, 2013. This trial was conducted without the presence of lawyers and with no respect to any legal procedures. Afshin Nadimi was sentenced to five years imprisonment for membership in the Coordinating Committee and one year for propaganda against the system for a total of six years. The court also condemned Mehrdad Sabouri for four months for membership in the Coordinating Committee and another four months for propaganda against the system, for eight months in total. Both labour activists were transferred to Sanandaj's prison for serving their prison sentences. However, after appealing these charges, the Appeal Court changed their sentences to one year imprisonment for Nadimi for “propaganda again the system” and four months jail for Mehrdad Sabouri for “propaganda against the system”. Other charges were dropped. Mehrdad Sabouri served four month jail and was subsequently freed on March 12, 2014; while Afshin Nadimi was temporarily released on 130 million toman bail on February 23, 2014 and has been awaiting the final verdict.

There are many other labour activists across the country that continues to be persecuted and arrested on short-term basis; many cases go unreported.

Sample Protest Letter below:

I (we) are writing to protest against the unjust and continued persecution and incarceration of labour activists in Iran.

……………………

I (we) strongly condemn the unjust arrest and sentences against labour activists. I (we) also denounce ongoing persecution and arrests of labour activists in Iran. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom all detained labour activists in Iran, including Reza Shahabi, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarahi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, and Rasoul Bodaghi.

Name:
Organization/Position:
Please send your protests letters to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;
Twitter: @khamenei_ir; ‏@HassanRouhani
cc: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

IASWI on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IASWI

IASWI on twitter: https://twitter.com/IASWIinfo

IASWI German Newsletter: http://www.etehadbinalmelali.com/german.html

IASWI French Newsletter: http://www.etehadbinalmelali.com/html_2013/france.html

About IASWI: The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) was formed in 1999 and formally launched in January 2000. The IASWI has been working in collaboration with many labour and progressive organizations and activists in Iran and around the world to strengthen worker-to-worker solidarity in defence of workers’ rights, demands and struggles in Iran and against the repressive anti-worker policies and practices of Islamic Republic of Iran. IASWI is a fully independent organization and does not accept funding or resources from any governments or corporations and their affiliates.

 

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