Reza Shahabi, a member of the executive board of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Company(Vahed), has been jailed for his part in the great bus workers’ strike in 2006 and in forming the bus workers’ union. He has already served more than three years of a four-year sentence.
There are concerns that he is dying due to his hunger strike in Gohardasht Prison. On 1 June 2014 Shahabi was transferred from ward 350 to Gohardasht Prison rather than being transferred to hospital for surgery. Since his transfer to Gohardasht Prison, Reza Shahabi has been on a hunger strike for the past 35 days, he is in now critical health conditions and his life is in danger. No prison authorities or the Islamic regime officials have paid any attention to his legitimate demands yet. Shahrokh Zamani, another worker activist in Iran who himself is under constant threat and pressure in Gohardasht prison has expressed his serious concerns for the life of the jailed Iranian labour activist Reza Shahabi.
Shahabi suffers from multiple medical conditions, including a severe back problem. Unfinished treatments have led to deterioration in Shahabi’s condition; problems in his neck, back and arms and legs are threatening and might paralyse him. In a protest letter to the prison authorities, he writes: “I have problems in both my legs, which go numb and are getting weaker, so I can only get up with massage and with the help of my cell mates”. He then asks: “Is this anything but prisoners’ slow death through physical and mental exhaustion”? He says, if anything happens to him, the responsibility lies with the judiciary, the prisons’ organisation and the highest state authorities.
Another labour activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, has been in prison since June 2010 on a five-year sentence for union activities. During a recent assault on political prisoners in Ward 350 of Evin Prison on 17th of June, he was among the prisoners who were severely beaten up and injured and moved to ward 240 of Evin prison. Due to massive protests, he was moved back to ward 350 on May Day. On May 3rd, he was moved to ward 209. (Ward 209 is the interrogation unit of Evin Prison in Tehran. Run by the Ministry of the intelligence, torture and maltreatment is routinely practised as part of the interrogations.) Authorities has forbidden him visitors since then.
We are concerned for his well-being too. Before the time he was moved to general ward 209, he had the chance to meet his family on June 27. However, following this meeting police forces raided his home and took their computers and some documents; the police threatened his wife and his 15 years old son in order to extract from them whatever they knew.
It should also be noted that Nima Ebrahimzadeh, Behnam’s only son, suffers leukaemia, a fact that has added to Behnam Ebrahimzadeh’s psychological distress.
Ebrahimzadeh is a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Labour Organisations and a campaigner for children’s rights. He has been subjected to severe torture during his incarceration.
We call on all trade unions and human rights organisations around the world and all those appalled by the horrific human rights abuse in Iran to support Reza Shahabi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and workers rights in Iran.
All jailed trade unionists and political prisoners must be freed immediately and unconditionally! Harassment of workers and their families must stop immediately!
Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran
Shahla Daneshfar firstname.lastname@example.org
Bahram Soroush email@example.com
4 July 2014