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IRAN: MAHMOUD BEHESHTI LANGROODI BACK IN JAIL; ALI NEJATI RELEASED ON BAIL AND NEW ARRESTS AND CHARGES AGAINST LABOUR ACTIVISTS AND TEACHERS IN IRAN (IASWI)

Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a board member and spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran), had been granted a furlough from October 11th to 17th, 2015; however, Tehran’s prosecutor denied his request for the extension of his leave despite the fact that his bail conditions had previously been approved. He therefore returned to Evin prison on October 17, 2015. Prior to his temporary leave, Mr. Beheshti Langroodi had gone on dry hunger strike for six days following his arrest on September 6th to protest against his unjust incarceration. Mr. Beheshti Langroodi had previously been sentenced to five years in prison and it’s not clear whether this sentence will be carried out, suspended or otherwise reduced.

Furthermore, Mr. Ramin Zandnia, a member of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association in Kurdistan, was arrested, along with his wife, by intelligence forces in the city of Saqez on October 15, 2015.
Ali Nejati, a board member of Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Company was released on (100 million toman) bail on October 18, 2015. He was arrested on September 15, 2015. Mr. Nejati had previously been incarcerated a number of times for his trade union activities. This time he has been charged with “spreading propaganda against the system”.

Mr. Esmail Abdi, General Secretary of the ITTA-Tehran, as well as a number of other prominent teachers including Rasoul Bodaghi, Ali Akbar Baghani, Alireza Hashemi and Abolreza Ghanbari continue to be in prison. Mr. Bodaghi has recently been given an additional three year jail sentences despite finishing his six-year prison term.

Mahmoud Salehi, a well-known labour activist and member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations and one of the founders of Saqez Bakery Worker’s’ Syndicate, has been sentenced to another 9 years of prison. Although currently out of prison on bail, Mr. Salehi has lost both his kidneys as a result of years of imprisonment; thus, going back to jail means he will undoubtedly die. He has filed an appeal against the above sentence.

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has been sentenced to another 7 years and 9 months and 15 days in addition to his previous sentences. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations, and a Children’s Rights advocate, has been incarcerated since June 2010. He was sentenced to five years after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”.

In addition, there have been increased pressures on the family and friends of late Shahrokh Zamani prior to his 40th day ceremony to prevent people from taking part in the event. There have been increased pressures and campaign demanding justice for Shahrokh Zamani including a call for an independent international inquiry into this death and the conditions of other jailed labour activists and political prisoners in Iran. Iranian government authorities have disregarded such demands and no independent autopsy has been taking place. Numerous ceremonies in Iran and across the world have been organized since Shahrokh’s death on September 13, 2015.

Shahrokh Zamani was originally arrested, along with Mr. Mohammad Jarahi, in June of 2011. Branch 1 of the Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction on charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the establishment”. 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.

Mohammad Jarahi, also a well-known labour activist and close friend and colleague of Shahrokh Zamni, continues to be imprisoned despite serious health problems and previous surgeries for his cancer.
Please send protest letters to the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Please see the sample letter below).

International Alliance in support of workers in Iran (IASWI), October 19, 2015

Sample Protest Letter for the unconditional release of all labour activists in Iran

We are writing to raise our extreme concerns and condemnation regarding increasing repression of labour activists in Iran. Many jailed labour activists and political prisoners in Iran go through severe torture, medical neglects and gross abuse and mistreatments by security guards and prison authorities.
Shahrokh Zamnai was a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations. He was found dead in his prison cell on September 13, 2015. Since his sudden death, there have been international campaigns in condemnation of his killing and a growing call for an independent international inquiry into this death and the conditions of other jailed labour activists and political prisoners in Iran. Your government has disregarded such calls.

We are also alarmed that Mahmoud Salehi, a well-known labour activist and member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations and one of the founders of Saqez Bakery Worker’s’ Syndicate , has been sentenced to another 9 years of prison. Although currently out of prison on bail, Mr. Salehi has lost both his kidneys as a result of years of imprisonment; thus, going back to jail means he will undoubtedly die. Rasoul Bodaghi, a teacher and education activist and member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, who just finished his six-year prison term, received another three year sentences even though he was expected to be freed. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has been sentenced to another 7 years and 9 months and 15 days in addition to his previous sentences. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations, and a Children’s Rights advocate, has been incarcerated since June 2010. He was originally sentenced to five years after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”. Mohammad Jarahi, another well-known labour activist and close friend and colleague of Shahrokh Zamni, continues to be imprisoned since June 2011 despite serious health problems and surgeries for his cancer.

The list of persecuted and prosecuted labour activists and teachers in Iran goes on. As of this time, Mr. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA-Tehran), who was arrested by security forces at his home on September 6, 2015, is still in custody. Mr. Esmail Abdi, General Secretary of the ITTA-Tehran, as well as a number of other prominent teachers including Ali Akbar Baghani, Alireza Hashemi and Abolreza Ghanbari continue to be in prison. Mr. Ali Nejati, board member of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate, who was arrested on September 15th and charged with “spreading propaganda against the system, is expected to be put on trial soon. Mr. Kourosh Bakhshandeh, a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations, has also been prosecuted in recent days and is expected to receive a new prison sentence.

We denounce repression and prosecution of labour activists in Iran and join the international condemnation of Shahrokh Zamani’s death and also call for the unconditional release of all labour activists, teachers and political prisoners in Iran and the recognition of workers to have the right to organize freely without fear of persecution.

PLEASE SEND protest letters to:

  • Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian), Email: info_leader@leader.ir
  • President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, Email: media@rouhani.ir, Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)
  • Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, Email: iran@un.int Cc: info@workrs-iran.org

International Alliance in support of workers in Iran (IASWI), October 19, 2015