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Updates on the situation of other long-serving jailed labour activists, as of June 20, 2014

There are many other labour activists across the country that are being persecuted and arrested on short-term basis. Many are currently facing legal battles and have been charged with various sham charges.

 

– 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. 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 for 54 days and was transferred back to the general ward on June 17, 2014.

– 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.

It is also important to highlight the current situation of Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh who was arrested on April 30th and released on bail on June 14, 2014. Jafar Azimzadeh, the Chair of the Board of Directors of “Free Union of Iranian Workers” was brutally arrested in his house in front of his family members on 30 of April, 2014 and his computer and some other documents were also confiscated by security agents. Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh remained incarcerated for 46 day, He was arrested a day before events planned for the International Workers’ Day. Jafar was under extreme pressure and intense interrogation in section 209 of Evin Prison to abandon his labour activities.

There are many other labour activists across the country that are being persecuted and arrested on short-term basis. Many are currently facing legal battles and have been charged with various sham charges. A more comprehensive list of jailed and prosecuted labour activists will be created and published on IASWI’s website in July 2014. For instance, bus workers and other labour activists in Tehran, Mechanical Steel workers in a suburb of Tehran and a group of independent labor activists in Sanandaj were targets of state repression, and were arrested on May1st, 2014 and the night before May 1st, solely because of their plans or participation in independent May Day celebrations and rallies throughout Iran. It is important to emphasize that many cases go unreported.

Written by IASWI

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