Recent arrests of and acts of harassment against several Iranian trade-unionists - IRN 001 / 0112 / OBS 011

20/01/2012
Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) of the recent arrests of and acts of harassment against several Iranian trade-unionists.

According to the information received, on January 15, 2012, Mr. Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the provisional board for reopening the Building Painting Workers Syndicate, was arrested by the Intelligence Department of East Azerbaijan province while at his workplace in the north western city of Tabriz and taken to Tabriz prison, to serve his 11-year prison sentence. Presumably on the same day, Mr. Mohammad Jarrahi, a unionist member of the Committee to Pursue Establishment of Labour Unions, who was prosecuted in the same case as Mr. Shahrokh Zamani, was also arrested by the same department while at his place of residence and taken to Tabriz prison to serve his five-year sentence. Messrs. Nima Pouryaghoub and Sassan Vahebivash, student activists also prosecuted in the same case, were also summoned by telephone during the same period by the Intelligence Department of East Azerbaijan province to go to prison to serve respectively six years and six months of prison. They run the risk of being arrested at any time [1].

The Observatory was also informed of the arrest on January 17, 2012 of Mr. Sheys Amani, founding member of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, by agents of the Justice Department of Sanandaj, provincial capital of the Iranian Kurdistan. The latter was then taken to the central prison of Sanandaj, where he remains detained at the time of publication. No information could be obtained regarding the reasons for his arrest and the existence of possible charges against him. Mr. Sheys Amani and Mr. Sadiq Karimi, another founding member of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, had been arrested in May 2007 and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. Both had been released a few months later following domestic and international mobilisation. However, recently, the Sentences Implementation Bureau notified the two trade unionists that they had to go back to prison to serve their sentences. At the time of publication, we had no information on the situation of Mr. Sadiq Karimi, who also risks being arrested at any time.

Furthermore, on January 8, 2012, Mr. Sharif Sa’ed-Panah, a board member of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, was arrested by plain clothed security agents at his home in Sanandaj, for being in possession of the Union’s newsletter. Likewise, Mr. Mozaffar Salehnia, another board member of the Union, was arrested on January 5 by security agents for the same reasons. The two were released on bail on January 19 pending trial. Exact charges are not known as of yet.

Also, on January 3, 2012, Mr. Maysam Nejati-Aref, a unionist at Tehran’s SAIPA car manufacturing company and a student, was arrested for defending rights of workers by security agents at the factory and taken to an unknown place. No specific information could be obtained as to the reasons for his arrest and the existence of charges against him.

The Observatory was also informed that Mr. Ebrahim Madadi, Vice-President of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed). who was granted leave from Evin prison on November 30, 2011 as part of a furlough [2], was arrested again on December 7,2011, when he went to prison to extend his leave. The latter had been sentenced to three and a half-year imprisonment in December 2008 on false charges of “endangering national security”. As of today, he remains detained in Evin prison.

The Observatory is further concerned with the ongoing detention and health status of Mr. Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer and board member of Sherkat-e Vahed, who went on hunger strike in November 2011 [3] and had to be hospitalised on December 13, 2011. He reportedly ended his hunger strike subsequently, but has been left without proper medical attention.

Moreover, Mr. Mohammad Hosseini, a unionist in the city of Firuzkuh, east of the capital Tehran, was arrested in late December 2011 for defending rights of workers by agents from the Intelligence Department and taken to a detention centre in the city of Damavand, east of the capital Tehran, where he remains detained as of today. No information could be obtained as to the existence of charges against him.

Finally, Mr. Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, a unionist teacher, was arrested during the first week of January 2012, and taken to Evin prison to serve a three-year prison sentence. The specific reasons of the conviction are not known as to date. He had been previously arrested on May 1, 2010 and had spent more than eight months in solitary confinement in section 209 of Ministry of Intelligence in Evin prison before being released on January 26, 2011.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi, Nima Pouryaghoub, Sassan Vahebivash, Sheys Amani, Sadiq Karimi, Sharif Sa’ed-Panah, Mozaffar Salehnia, Maysam Nejati-Aref, Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi, Mohammad Hosseini and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz as well as all human rights defenders and their families in Iran;

ii. Release Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani, Sheys Amani, Maysam Nejati-Aref, Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi, Mohammad Hosseini and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi, Nima Pouryaghoub, Sassan Vahebivash, Sheys Amani, Sadiq Karimi, Sharif Sa’ed-Panah, Mozaffar Salehnia, Maysam Nejati-Aref, Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi, Mohammad Hosseini and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz and more generally against all human rights defenders in Iran.

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:

- its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- its article 5.b, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels, (…) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups”;

- its article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.


Addresses:

· Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shahid Keshvardoost St., Jomhuri Eslami Ave., Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649, + 98 21 649 / 21 774 2228, E-Mail: info_leader@leader.ir,

· President Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 5880. Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

· Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Ministry of Justice, c/o Public relations Office, Number 4, 2 Azizi Street, Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / bia.judi@yahoo.com / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov

· H.E. Mr. Seyed Mohammad Reza Sajjadi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Iran in Brussels, 15 a avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: iran-embassy@yahoo.com

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, January 20, 2012

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