Breaking News: Sepideh Gholian, Atefeh Rangriz, Marzieh Amiri, Sanaz Elahyari, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, and Amir Amirgholi, were released on heavy bails after months of solidarity campaigns
Iran: On Saturday, October 26, 2019, 6 well-known jailed workers’ rights defenders and political prisoners, Sepideh Gholian, Atefeh Rangriz, Marzieh Amiri, Sanaz Elahyari, Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, and Amir Amirgholi, were released on heavy bails after months of solidarity campaigns in Iran and internationally for their freedom. On different occasions in the past few months, many of these detainees, including very recently by Sepideh Gholian and Atefeh Rangriz, had been on hunger strike to protest against their unjust detention, inhumane conditions of prisons and ongoing harassment of themselves and their family members among other things.
Upon their release, they were warmly welcomed by a large crowd of labour and student activists and family members, outside the prisons.
Neda Naji, another May Day detainee, is still in jail and is expected to be tried by Branch 28 of the “Islamic Revolutionary Court” for her participation at the International Workers’ Day event in Tehran on May 1, 2019 this civil activist.
As we have previously explained, many labour activists and workers’ rights defenders are being prosecuted and imprisoned across Iran and a number of them in recent months have received unjust, harsh and unacceptable long-term imprisonment and inhuman flogging sentences based on bogus “national security” charges.
Workers’ rights’ advocates and independent journalists Sepideh Gholian, Sanaz Elahyari, Asal Mohammadi, Amir Amirgholi, and Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard have each been sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the verdict by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran. They were arrested and detained for supporting and reporting on the Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers’ strikes and protests in 2018. They are now conditionally free on bail until the outcome of their appeals hearing. Asal Mohammadi, however, continues to be incarcerated.
Atefeh Rangriz, a labour rights advocate, was arrested and detained since May Day 2019 in Varamin’s Gharchak Prison. In addition to initially setting an unusually heavy bail amount (2 billion toman) for her, the court had also been refusing her family to process the bail. Ms. Rangriz has been sentenced by Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court to eleven-and-half years’ imprisonment, 74 lashes, two years’ ban from membership in any party, organization or political and social groups as well as the use of a smart phone. She has been charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, “propaganda against the state”, “disruption of public order”, and “failure to obey state agents”.
Marzieh Amiri, a journalist and labour rights advocate, had been detained since May 1, 2019 in Ervin Prison. She has been sentenced by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court to ten-and-half years’ imprisonment and 148 lashes. She is charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, “propaganda against the state”, and “disruption of public order”.
There are reports that Esmail Bakhshi, a well-known representative of the Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers, might be given a conditional release on bail very soon. Esmail Bakhshi has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and 74 lashes. He is currently incarcerated in Evin prison. His charges include “spreading lies”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. After his original arrest in November 2018, Mr. Bakhshi reported being subject to severe beating and torture. Sepideh Gholian also confirmed that she and Bakhshi were tortured after their arrest on November 18, 2018.
IASWI welcomes the conditional release of these labor activists and workers’ rights defenders but strongly condemns the heavy bails imposed on them. They have done nothing to go through all these unjust and systemic persecution. We demand the annulment of all charges against them and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Esmail Bakhshi, Asal Mohammadi, Neda Naji and drop of charges against Tehran bus workers’ members including Hassan Saeidi and Rasoul Taleb Moghaddam and against Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers including Ali Nejati.
Sources: Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Syndicate of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers, IASWI.