Updates on the situation of imprisoned labour activists in Iran, as of September 15, 2014

Reza agreed to end his hunger strike after 50 days following his transfer to the Imam Khomeini Hospital and promises made by Mr. Khodabakhshi, the representative of Tehran’s Prosecutor. They agreed to facilitate Reza’s medical treatments in the hospital and considering a medical leave following his operation. Reza thanked all friends, families, colleagues in Iran and internationally for their support and ended his hunger strike on July 20, 2014. He underwent a radical surgery in his lumber area on September 2, 2014. He is still under medical supervision in the hospital.

 

– Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer and Executive Board member of the Syndicate of workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, known as “Vahed Syndicate”, has been imprisoned since June 2010. He was brutally attacked and beaten during his arrest and interrogations, and severely suffered both physically and psychologically. He spent 19 months in solitary confinement, and during this time his family was not informed of his situation .He has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment (combined), banned for five years from any trade union activities, and a fine of 7,500,000 Toman, in which is (the equivalent of about US $3000), on the vague charges of “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security”. As the result of enduring psychological and physical abuses, he now suffers from multiple illnesses, including severe neck and back pain associated with disc herniation, numbness of feet and hands, liver and kidney complications, decaying of his lower vertebrates, heart issues, and etc.

Reza Shahabi underwent cervical spine surgery on July 24, 2012, and he was transferred to Evin person shortly after, without being allowed to be healed from his surgery. He was temporarily released on bail on January 7, 2013, after a three week hunger strike, demanding to receive medical treatments outside of the jail. Once again, despite his needs for further treatments, he was forced to return to jail on April 15, 2013. On October 19, 2013, Reza Shahabi once again was transferred to a hospital due to numbness of his left foot and severe back pain. It was recommended again by his doctors that he had to receive hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison and that without appropriate treatment his entire left side could be paralyzed. Nevertheless, the authorities have denied all these recommendations.

Reza Shahabi went on hunger strike on June 1st, 2014 in protest against his sudden/unannounced transfer from Section 350 of Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajaee Shahr Prison in City of Karaj, where according to various reports including Amnesty International’s latest statement “political prisoners and convicted criminal offenders, including violent offenders, are frequently held together”. His family has had hard time visiting him and medical and other facilities are even worse than Evin prison. In addition, the interrogator threatened to open a new case against Reza Shahabi on June 1, 2014, after he was exiled to Rajaie Shahr prison. Shahabi’s health deteriorated significantly since his hunger strike; he lost more than 15 Kg since the start of his hunger strike.

Reza agreed to end his hunger strike after 50 days following his transfer to the Imam Khomeini Hospital and promises made by Mr. Khodabakhshi, the representative of Tehran’s Prosecutor. They agreed to facilitate Reza’s medical treatments in the hospital and considering a medical leave following his operation. Reza thanked all friends, families, colleagues in Iran and internationally for their support and ended his hunger strike on July 20, 2014. He underwent a radical surgery in his lumber area on September 2, 2014. He is still under medical supervision in the hospital.

– 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 Gohardasht 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 Gohardasht 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 Gohardasht 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. 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 was brought up on new charges 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, in 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). After going on dry hunger strike on September 1st, Behnam was transferred to ward 12 of Rajaee Shahr Prison (a section for political prisoners) and thus he agreed to end his hunger strike.

– 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.

Many other labour activists across the country are being persecuted and arrested and facing legal battles and have been charged with various sham charges.

According to the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers Organizations, Court of Appeals of West Azerbaijan province has confirmed the lower court rulings against five labor activist and member of the Coordinating Committee. According to the coordinating committee, Jamal Minashiri and Hadi Tanomand, each three and a half years in prison, and Ghasem Mosatafapour, Ebrahim Mosatafapour and Mohammad Karimi were each sentenced to two years in prison.

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