Irán, República Islámica del - Bus workers’ leader receives further jail sentence and faces new charges

In May 2015, Reza Shahabi, treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburban Bus Company (Vahed Syndicate), was prosecuted and sentenced to a further year in prison. He was already serving a five-year sentence for “propaganda against the state,” and “collusion with the intent to act against national security” for his role in the dispute between the union and the bus company.
He had been on medical leave from prison following a back operation in September 2014, but was forced to live outside of Tehran, away from his wife and children. Then in December 2014 Reza was summoned to Evin prison’s prosecutor’s office and interrogated about a protest by prisoners in Evin prison on 17 April 2014. He went on trial, the sentence was handed down in May 2015, and upheld in December 2015 by the Appeals Court.
Reza remained on medical leave, but was again summoned to report to the Intelligence Ministry on 7 February 2016. A new file had been opened against him, for inciting workers and disturbing public opinion and order, because he went to the Ministry of Labour. He had applied to the Ministry to pursue his request to return to work which had been denied despite the Iranian government’s report to the ILO that he was free and had returned to work. He was also accused of going to City Hall for union related actions, of collecting union membership dues and distributing Vahed Syndicate’s newsletters.
Reza Shahabi was first arrested in 2005 for his participation in a bus drivers’ strike, then sacked. He was arrested again in 2010 and was banned from union activities for five years. Since then he has spent 22 months in solitary confinement, has been beaten and has been on hunger strike several times.

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