Mohammad Jarahi, a well-known and highly respected labour activist in Iran, died of thyroid cancer and a wide range of complications and other illnesses caused as a result of the lack of proper treatment during his five-year long imprisonment. He passed away on October 5, 2017 in Shohada Tajrish hospital in Tehran and was buried on October 6th in City of Tabriz. Many labour and social activists attended his funeral. He was about 59 years old.
Mohammad Jarahi was a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, an independent labour organization campaigning for the establishment of independent worker organizations in Iran. Mohammad Jarahi used to work in a petrochemical complex field of Asalooye. After being sacked from that job, he started working as a painter and became a member of the building paint workers’ syndicate. Mohamamd Jarahi started working as a child labourer and continued to work all his life, which led him to become a staunch anti-capitalist and socialist. He served a five-year jail sentence in Tabriz prison, without even one day of medical furlough, and was released on August 9, 2016.
Mohammad Jarahi and the late Shahrokh Zamani were initially arrested together 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”. The “trial” did not meet international standards for a fair adjudication of the charges, and the charges themselves violated internationally recognized standards for freedom of association and expression and the right of workers to organize into an organization of their choosing free of government interference, harassment or retaliation.
Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi, after being conditionally released, were both re-arrested in mid-January 2012 to begin serving their sentences. Mohammad Jarahi was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in prison. Mohammad had part of his thyroid gland removed in a surgery in 2013 at a hospital in Tabriz. Based on the final results of the tests and the detection of the Medical Commission, it was absolutely essential that Mohammad Jarahi be transferred to a hospital outside of prison for proper treatment, sooner rather than later. Despite doctors’ diagnosis and follow-ups of the family of Mohammad Jarahi, officials in Tabriz prison and judicial authorities refused to let him out of prison and his hospitalization and treatment were not approved. This caused Mohammad’s health to be significantly deteriorated. He served his prison sentence without even one day of medical leave.
All Iranian labour and progressive organizations in the country and abroad have been sending sympathy messages and making it clear that the Iranian government is fully responsible and liable for the death of Mohammad Jarahi.
The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs issued a statement in which they declared: “Shame on the the perpetrators of the death of labour activist Mohammad Jarahi….The late Mohammad Jarahi was imprisoned for five years because of his struggles in defense of workers’ rights. And even his basic rights as a prisoner were not met. They denied him of referral to a doctor, and due to the lack of timely detection of cancer, less than one year after his release, due to the progress of the disease, medical care did not work and, unfortunately, he left his fellow friends behind.
The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations in their statement emphasized that “Undoubtedly, the judiciary and the prison authorities have been involved in this death and must be held accountable”
The IASWI in a statement in Farsi has stated: “We all know how much this courageous comrade endured in the struggle for the liberation of the working class in Iran…. The anti-worker regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran is directly responsible for creating conditions that killed Mohammad Jarahi. Comparison of the pre-jail image of Jarahi and afterwards is a testimony to the severe harms that this fellow labour activist endured….We should not allow any other Iranian labour activists to be put at risk again in the prisons and slaughterhouses of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We must work harder for the immediate release of all labour activists and prisoners of conscience in Iran….”
We once again echo the condemnations of the Iranian labour organizations and activists on the occasion of the tragic death of Mohammad Jarahi, who was absolutely unrecognizable at the age of about 59. We all remember that Shahrokh Zamani was killed in Rajaee Shahr prison in September 2015 and no justice has yet to be done for his death; this is the same notorious jail that Reza Shahabi is being held prisoner. As predicted, none of Reza Shahabi’s demands have yet been addressed by the IRI’s prison/intelligence authorities after he conditionally halted his 50-day hunger strike on September 27th. Shahabi continues to be in prison despite growing health problems. Education workers, Esmail Abdi and Mohsen Omrani, continue to be incarcerated, and Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi has been arrested and transferred to Evin prison on September 12, 2017 and the appeals court recently confirmed another 5 year jail term against him, which means that his total prison sentences are now 14 years. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi is a spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran) and Abdi is a board member of ITTA (Tehran) while Omrani is a teacher activist in Bushehr. About 30 other Iranian labour and social activists have been summoned to courts in recent days
We cannot allow the Iranian government to be elected as a member of ILO’s Governing Body three consecutive times while at the same time grossly violating the most basic human and workers’ rights in Iran including the ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). This vicious cycle must stop.
In loving memory of Mohamamd Jarahi
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)