IASWI and many other labour solidarity organizations have been campaigning for the freedom of the Iranian labour activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations and a Children’s Rights advocate, who has been imprisoned since June 2010. In the infamous attack of the security forces on Evin prison’s ward 350 on April 17, 2014, Behnam was also targeted, physically attacked, and sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 for interrogations. He faced new charges of causing unrest in his prison and was forbidden from any visitation. After he was briefly returned to the general prison population of Evin on May 2, 2014, he was sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin again for 54 days and was transferred back to the general ward of Evin on June 17, 2014.
Following the raid, the prison authorities once again without any legal justification or court order transferred Behnam to the ward 209 of Evin prison, in which led to Behnam’s decision to go on hunger strike on August 9, 2014. Instead of taking Behnam grievances into consideration, the authorities transferred Behnam to a section for highly dangerous inmates at Rajaee Shahr’s prison (formerly known as Gohardasht). Behnam’s family has also been targeted and repeatedly insulted throughout the years. For instance, on Saturday, June 29, 2014, Behnam’s wife and son arrived at Evin prison and in the end of their visitation, six security agents in civilian clothing hold them hostage, took them back to their house, raided their residence, confiscated and taken away all of their belongings. Security forces pressured Behnam’s fifteen years old son, Nima, who is afflicted with Leukemia, to hand over all of his father’s documents including the flash drives. During the attack Behnam’s wife and son were also interrogated and threatened repeatedly.
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has recently written an open letter; below includes some highlights of his letter in English, which is translated by IASWI. The original letter in Farsi is the main reference. After this letter and other protests by Behnam the prison authorities denied his family’s visits. In addition they have started a new round of interrogations against him in recent days.
IASWI strongly condemns the constant harassment of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and the abusive behaviours towards other jailed labour activists and political prisoners and their family members in Iran. We call for the immediate and unconditional freedom of all jailed labour activists and political prisoners in Iran. As we have always emphasized, this is an element of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to maximize pressures on jailed labour activists, their colleagues and family members in order to make their voices silent and continue with the oppression of the working class movement in Iran.
Highlights of Ebhnam Ebrahimzadeh’s open letter written in November 2016, posted online on November 16, 2016: This letter was addressed to Asma Jahangir (UN’s Human Rights Rapporteur on Iran), Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights), and Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security) citing violations of Human Rights in Iran and demanding serious measures to change the situation.
With greeting and salutation to all your excellencies; Ms. Asma Jahangir; Human Rights special rapporteur: Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; high commissioner for Human Rights, and Ms. Mogherini; head of EU’s foreign affairs and security.
Ms. Jahangir I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate you once more on your meritorious appointment as UN’s Special Human Rights Rapporteur on Iran, with high hopes for a world of peace and harmony.
If in today’s world advances in progress and technology are marks of distinction for the global community, for the establishment in Iran the marks of distinctions are support for state terrorism; sectarianism; incitement of ethnic and religious conflicts in Iran and the region; repression, incarceration and execution of opponents and dissenters, and extensive violations of human rights.
In the court of global public opinion, it’s very obvious that Iranian rulers’ conduct and violation of human rights has one of the most disastrous records among countries of the world. Even the slightest dissent or opposition in Iran is met with most vicious repressive measures and hundreds of prominent political figures, labor activists, human rights activists, attorneys and journalists are unjustly and illegally incarcerated.
Not only Iranian government utilizes systematic executions, in addition they also resort to inquisition of their opponents. Security forces regularly use harassment, intimidation, harsh interrogation techniques, savage tortures and long term solitary confinements to get sham and forced confessions; including but not limited to cases of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Shahrokh Zamani, Reza Shahabi and Satar Beheshti.
The government agents and security personnel continually and consistently control and check internet users’ emails, passwords and contact information. In this regime, all dissenters are labeled as criminals, infiltrators and provocateurs. Another sphere of Human Rights violation in Iran are the institutionalized incursions on political, civil liberties and democracy. Prejudice and discrimination against all others (who are not part of the establishment), increase in arrests and repression, threats of execution and rape, cancellation of visiting rights for the incarcerated; denial of the right to counsel; creation of an atmosphere of censor and tyranny; violent reactions in spheres of culture, arts and music; banning of activities of political parties and autonomous non-governmental and trade union organizations and independent demonstrations; bringing up sham charges against incarcerated labor and political activists, such as Reza Shahabi or myself,…are just some aspects of these dreadful circumstances.
Illegal and vengeful sentences of exile is another tool used in this expanded repertoire of repression; as an instance, myself, Arzhang Davoodi and tens of other prisoners who took part in the protest of Evin prison’s ward 350 were exiled to Rajai Shahr prison and subject to constant harassment, intimidation and pressure.
Premeditated and politically driven assassination of activists and dissenters such as Shahrokh Zamani, Hoda Saaber, Satar Beheshti… mass execution of thousands of prisoners in recent years, violation of women’s, national and religious minorities’ rights, and daily killings of porters on western borders are continuous tragedies which recur on a daily basis in my country. As a Child Laborers’ advocate and activist I am asking you not to close your eyes on these unbearable circumstances in Iran.
All these are simple instances of human rights violation by hands of those who claim to support liberty and human rights but have no legitimacy what so ever.
In the past few days we have witnessed hunger strike by eight political prisoners from Evin, Tabriz and Karaj prisons, and prison official’s total dismissal of hunger strikers’ demands. But prison officials’ inhuman treatment of political prisoners is not only in their dismissal of hunger strikers’ demands but also how officials threaten, punish and transfer hunger striking political prisoners to other prisons under harsher conditions. Messrs. Rasol Razavi and Morteza Moradpour were transferred to Karaj prison after extensive beatings. The political prisoner Mr. Vahid Sayadi was forcefully transferred, under watchful eyes of Evin prison’s special guards to the 4th ward with dangerous inmates. Where else in the world are such conducts the norm?
It must be said that if Islamic Republic of Iran claims to uphold and respect Human Rights, then it needs to rapidly rectify its conduct when it comes to its treatment of ethnic minorities, social and labor activists; issues of torture, freedom of speech and abolishing capital punishment.
When preservation and reinforcement of Human Rights is a major concern and project of the international community, then what does it mean to turn a blind eye towards egregious violations of Human Rights in Iran? The officials of this government have to be held accountable for all the mass executions of 1980’s, i.e. 1981 and 1988. The same officials ought to be also accountable for the Chain murders of intellectuals like Mohamad Mokhtari, Pouyandeh and Foroohar. Who are responsible for all these killings and slaughters? Why not a single case about any of these cases has been concluded? ….
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Labor and Human Rights activist, Rajaee Shahr prison, November 2016
PLEASE SEND protest letters to:
· Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)
· The Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran – High Council of Human Rights firstname.lastname@example.org
· Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, Email: email@example.com