Quash Sentences of Iranian Labor Unionists and Release Them From Prison
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Iranian labor unionists who organize for better working conditions and higher wages through participating in peaceful protests and strikes often get arrested, imprisoned, and threatened with the death penalty. Instead of addressing their complains, Iranian authorities charge them with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “disrupting public order by participating in illegal gatherings” for engaging into peaceful trade union activities. The charges against one of the unionists included giving out cookies.
Amnesty International and AIUSA Group 11 in New York City call for overturning the sentences and releasing the Iranian trade unionists Esmail Abdi, Ebrahim Madadi, and Davoud Razavi and quashing the remaining sentence for Reza Shahabi, all of whom were convicted of the above charges. These labor unionists are innocent.
Article 23 (4) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” As the Persian New Year, Nowruz, which is on March 21st 2019 draws near, these trade unionists are forced to spend another year in captivity away from their families, friends and coworkers or in fear of being imprisoned yet again.
ABOUT TRADE UNIONISTS
Ebrahim Madadi, the deputy head of the Syndicate of the Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC), is now serving a 5-year prison term based on charges of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “disrupting public order by participating in illegal gatherings”. Among the activities mentioned in Madadi’s indictment was distributing cookies to bus drivers in celebration of the International Labor Day.
Davoud Razavi, a trade unionist, was sentenced to 5 years in prison on similar charges. The court found publishing online photos of unionist meetings tantamount to “anti-revolutionary propaganda” and cited an invitation to an International Labor Organization conference as “evidence” of his contact with “opposition labor rights activists outside of Iran.”
Reza Shahabi, a trade unionist and the treasurer of the Syndicate of the Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC), was released from prison on medical furlough after having served most of his 6-year sentence for participating in union activities. He is barred from participating in any political activity for two years. After his release he openly spoke about his torture and violent treatment in prison. He undertook a hunger strike in August 2017 to protest his imprisonment and in December 2017 he suffered a stroke. Despite now being free, his sentence remains and he can face jail time at any moment.
Esmail Abdi, a high school math teacher and former Iran Teachers Trade Association (ITTA) secretary general, has been serving a six-year prison sentence since November 2016. After refusing to give in to demands to resign from his ITTA position and cancel national teacher demonstrations, he was convicted of national security offenses, including “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. Abdi went on a hunger strike in 2018 to protest his imprisonment.
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