Irán, República Islámica del - Unionists and labour activists imprisoned (2012)

In 2011, as in previous years the authorities detained, questioned, harassed, threatened and imprisoned scores of people for their labour rights activities. Activists were often released only upon payment of extremely high bail bonds. For example, on 8 January, Pedram Nasrollahi, a labour movement and women’s movement activist, was released on payment of 40 million tomans (29,300 Euros) bail. In early January, according to reports published by the Free Union of Workers in Iran, jailed labour activist Behnam (Asad) Ebrahimzadeh was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Behnam is a member of the workers’ group Pursuit Committee for the Formation of Labour Organisations. Behnam worked at a polyethylene pipe-manufacturing plant in the outskirts of Tehran. He had already spent nearly seven months in prison since his arrest in June 2010. He had been previously detained along with scores of other worker activists, at a rally on Labour Day 2009.

In August a Tabriz court sentenced labour activists Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years, Nima Pouryaghob to 6 years, Mohammad Jarahi to 5 years and Sasan Vahebivash to 6 months in prison on charges of organising opposition groups, acting against national security and propaganda against the regime. Shahrokh Zamani is a member of the Representatives’ Council in the Coordinating Committee to Create Labour Organisations and also a member of the Painters Union. All were later released on payment of bail.

Seyed Biouk Seyyed Lar, a worker at Saba Train, and well-known labour activist, was also arrested in June 2011 and was detained in Tabriz prison. Mr. Ali Akhavan, an associate of The Centre in Defence of Workers’ Rights, was also arrested at his house in May and sentenced to a year and a half in prison. In December, police arrested a textile worker who threw his shoes at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he was giving a speech to workers during a visit to the provincial capital of Sari.

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