workers struggles

Reza Shahabi on a hunger strike as of August 9 [IASWI]


Reza Shahabi has been on a hunger strike since August 9, 2017. The Iranian government authorities have told Shahabi that they won’t release him even after the end of his current prison term. Reza started his hunger strike immediately after his incarceration on August 9th.

Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company issued a statement on August 17, 2017 according to which: Reza Shahabi is on the eve of the ninth day of hunger strike. Reza Shahabi, on Wednesday, 9th of August, reported back to the Rajaee Shahr Prison after he had been told by Tehran Prosecutor that his medical leave had been rejected and that he must spend three additional months in prison or risk the confiscation of his bail collateral. However, after he returned to the prison, the prosecutor’s office stated to Reza Shahabi’s wife on August 12, 2017 that Shahabi would be held in prison until December 22, 2018.

Shahabi’s wife and his colleagues were not able to contact him directly until August 16th. After meeting with him, Shahabi informed his wife that the prison authorities have told him that the whole period he had been on approved medical leave is not accepted (and considered absence) and that he has to stay in prison for another 968 days in addition to one year prison for his last charges. Mr. Shahabi was prosecuted one more time in January of 2015 based on charges of “propagating against the system” – while he was in jail related to the infamous attack of the security forces on Evin prison’s ward 350 on April 17, 2014 – and sentenced to an additional year in prison, and this verdict was upheld in an appeals court (refer the previous statements by IASWI).  At this time, judicial authorities and prison administration are claiming different things, both completely false and unwarranted.

In protest against the illegal and unjust actions of the prison authorities and the Judiciary, Shahabi went on hunger strike immediately after his incarceration on August 9th. His demand is his unconditional release from prison. Unfortunately, as explained previously, due to the lack of access to the phone until the visit on Wednesday, August 16th, his family and the Vahed Syndicate had been unaware of his hunger strike.

Vahed Syndicate has also stated that Reza’s family has announced that he has been transferred the quarantine to the Rajaee Shahr (Originally known as Gohardasht) Prison’s Hall 10, a place where political prisoners are held. Vahed union emphasized that this section lacks any basic facilities, and prisoners do not have access to the fresh air and do not even have an air-conditioning or refrigerator in this extreme heat.  Tehran bus workers’ union also stated that despite the end of his jail sentence, Reza Shahabi is being jailed again in order to exert pressure on the bus company workers to prevent the continuation of their efforts for justice and realization of their legal demands.

Vahed Syndicate has strongly condemned this illegal action on the part of the judicial and intelligence authorities and supports Shahabi’s demand for unconditional freedom (link to the bus workers’ union website ).

Vahed Syndicate has also called on labour organizations internationally to send open protest letters to the Iranian government and judicial authorities and take any other necessary steps in order to help secure Shahabi’s release.

IASWI will issue more updates regarding Reza Shahabi’s hunger strike. Shahabi has been jailed again while those who have been stealing millions and billions of dollars from the public assets and refuse to pay workers’ wages and entitlements are walking free in Iran. In recent weeks we have seen attacks on Haft Tapeh Sugar cane workers, on teachers and other labour activists. New charges have been laid against other labour activists in recent days including flogging sentences (more on this soon). Strong condemnations and consistent pressure on the Iranian government by the global labour and progressive movements and human rights organizations might be able to create conditions in which Shahabi and other prisoners achieve their demands including unconditional freedom.

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI), August 17, 2017