2 August, Another international day of action in support of jailed workers in Iran

Continuing the campaign for the release of Reza Shahabi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Shahrokh Zamani

* 2 August, Another international day of action in support of jailed workers in Iran
*Call on all worker organisations worldwide
*Reza Shahabi, Behanm Ebrahimzadeh and Shahrokh Zamani need urgent support
*We need an international campaign to save the lives of jailed Iranian worker activists


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.

In early June 2014 Shahabi began a hunger strike in protest against his transfer to Rajaee Shahr Prison, instead of being admitted to hospital for urgent medical care and treatment. After 43 days hunger strike and a global campaign in support of Reza, he was transferred to hospital. He is still on hunger strike though because he has been handcuffed to his hospital bed and not allowed him to visit with his family. As a result, they have removed his hand cuffs and let him meet his family. Reza continues to protest and insist on his demands. Finally on the fiftieth day of his hunger strike the authorities have agreed with Reza’s sick leave and allowed him medical care. He will be returned to jail when his doctors give the go ahead.

Now Reza and Shahrokh Zamani, another worker activist in Iran who himself is under constant threat and pressure in Rajaee Shahr prison, have written a letter to protest their imprisonment.
[Read more…]

Support Iranian Labour activists. Reza Shahabi life is in danger

10346106_750929241631298_2506882444654765833_nReza Shahabi and Behanm Ebrahimzadeh need urgent support
The life of Reza Shahabi is in real danger

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 shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com
Bahram Soroush bahram.soroush@gmail.com
4 July 2014

Abuse of worker rights hallmark of Iranian regime

Bahram Soroush protesting Iranian regime at International Labour Organisation meeting

Bahram Soroush, Shahla Daneshfar and others protesting Iranian regime at International Labour Organisation meeting

From Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran Newsletter, My Voice.
This edition’s contributor: Bahram Soroush, Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran

Systematic abuse of worker rights has been a hallmark of the regime in Iran since its very inception. At the heart of the attack against workers is subjection of workers to minimum wage levels, which by the government’s own admission, are one third of the official poverty line, and suppression of workers’ attempts to organise and strike.

The name ‘trade union’ is banned under the Islamic Republic, which has relied on its own handmade ‘Islamic councils of labour’ in workplaces to spy on and keep workers’ protests in check. So when, in 2006, the bus workers in the capital Tehran started reviving their trade union and took strike action for the right to organise and for better pay and conditions, over 1,000 were arrested. Only through powerful protests in Iran and through magnificent international support by workers’ and human rights organisations around the world could many of the arrested be eventually freed. However, Union leaders were subjected to years of persecution, including the executive board member Reza Shahabi, who is still serving a four-year sentence in jail, despite serious medical conditions.

The regime is clearly frightened by the ‘threat’ of worker protests, not only in its attempts to protect the rights of the capitalist class that it represents (the regime itself is made up of billionaire Ayatollahs), but in order to pre-empt it from developing into a political protest that can bring down the entire regime. The regime, which has survived only through mass executions, torture and jailing, is despised by virtually all sections of the society, especially workers who have been driven to abject poverty and subjected to brutal persecution. The regime’s dread of workers’ protests tends to reach its height in particular on such days as May Day and International Women’s Day, as workers start to organise and prepare for independent protests and rallies.

So again this year, in the build up to International Women’s Day, worker leaders were arrested and detained on trumped up charges, and as we are nearing May Day, the regime is stepping up its persecution of labour activists. Early April, two trade unionists, Sharif Saed Panah and Mozaffar Saleh Nia, were given six-month jail sentences each. Labour leaders Reza Shahabi and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, both on temporary medical leave from prison, are due to be returned to prison.

Given the scale of its economic crisis and the widespread poverty following the scrapping of most subsidies and implementation of austerity measures, the regime is clearly frightened by the prospect of mass social protests. The increased persecution of trade union leaders are happening in this context.

Union activists currently in detention (or about to be jailed) include:
• Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a labour and children’s rights activist, who has already served three years of a five-year sentence, while his 14-year old son is in hospital for leukaemia. The extension of his medical leave has been refused
• Mohammad Jarahi, serving a five-year sentence despite a serious medical condition
• Ghaleb Hosseini, detained February 2013
• Rasoul Bodaghi, serving a six-year sentence
• Abdolreza Ghanbari, on death row for taking part in anti-government protests in December 2009
• Shahrokh Zamani, serving an 11-year sentence
[Read more…]

Labour leader Reza Shahabi on five-day medical leave from jail

Campaign for his release continues!

Imprisoned labour leader Reza Shahabi who has been on hunger strike for three weeks in protest against his imprisonment and maltreatment was on Monday released on a five-day medical leave. The brief release has come under the pressure of powerful protests in Iran and worldwide.

Reza Shahabi, an executive board member of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Company, has been jailed for his part in the great bus workers’ strike in 2006 and in building the bus workers’ union. In April 2012, having already spent 22 months in jail, Shahabi was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from union activity for a further five years.

Shahabi began a hunger strike on 17 December in protest against his continued imprisonment, lack of medical care, and abuse and maltreatment by the prison guards. According to his wife, Robabeh Rezaee, he has already lost about 15kg and is suffering from back and neck pain and high blood pressure. [Read more…]

Iran: Worker campaigners start sit-in outside the National Assembly

Workers behind a petition protesting low pay and deterioration of the labour law today started a sit-in outside the National Assembly in the capital Tehran, according to the Free Union of Iranian Workers. The petition, which has been circulating across the industries in Iran since this summer, has so far attracted over 30,000 signatures. Prior to the start of the sit-in at 10am this morning local time, the co-ordinators of the campaign submitted a letter and the last 10,000 batch of the collected signatures to the Labour Ministry. The campaigners have said that if their calls for pay rise and the scrapping of the amendment to the labour law and other welfare demands go unheeded, they will call on other workers to join the sit-in protest.

The full text of the petition is reprinted below. [Read more…]