May 2, 2017: IASWI and many other labour solidarity organizations around the world have been campaigning for the freedom of the Iranian labour activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations and a Children’s Rights advocate, who had been imprisoned since June 2010. After enduring all forms of abuse, Behnam was finally released yesterday from Rajaee Shahr’s prison even though there is a possibility that he would face further prosecution related to his activities while he was serving his jail sentence.
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. The prison authorities later decided to open a new case against him which eventually added two more years to his imprisonment. Behnam had severely been bitten and injured in different occasions by the Iranian security forces for his continued efforts in communicating with the outside world, issuing his statements surrounding the inhuman situation he has been facing in jail, and also for messages of solidarity that he has periodically sent to the Iranian and international labor activists and organizations.
In the infamous attack of the security forces on Evin prison’s ward 350 on April 17, 2014, Behnam was also targeted, physically attacked, and sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 for interrogations. He faced new charges of causing unrest in his prison and was forbidden from any visitation. 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 for 54 days and was transferred back to the general ward of Evin on June 17, 2014.
Following the raid, the prison authorities once again without any legal justification or court order transferred Behnam to the ward 209 of Evin prison, which led to Behnam’s decision to go on hunger strike on August 9, 2014. Instead of taking Behnam grievances into consideration, the authorities transferred Behnam to a section for highly dangerous inmates at Rajaee Shahr’s prison (formerly known as Gohardasht). Behnam’s family had also been targeted and repeatedly insulted throughout the years. For instance, on Saturday, June 29, 2014, Behnam’s wife and son arrived at Evin prison and in the end of their visitation, six security agents in civilian clothing hold them hostage, took them back to their house, raided their residence, confiscated and taken away all of their belongings. Security forces pressured Behnam’s teenage son, Nima, who is afflicted with Leukemia, to hand over all of his father’s documents including the flash drives. During the attack Behnam’s wife and son were also interrogated and threatened repeatedly.
IASWI congratulates Behnam for his release from prion and salutes him and his family for their resistance and courage throughout the past seven years. We thank all labour and human rights’ organizations internationally for their continued solidarity with the Iranian labour movement. IASWI calls for an end to the constant harassment and the abusive behaviours towards labour activists and political prisoners and their family members in Iran. We call for the immediate and unconditional freedom of all jailed labour activists and political prisoners in Iran.