Iran: Imprisoned unionists face new unfair trials and extended prison terms

01.24.2015 – The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about the ongoing judicial harassment of imprisoned unionists designed to extend their arbitrary detention, and about the persisting crackdown on other unionists and labour activists who are peacefully exercising their right to form independent labour unions.

New information
IRN 004 / 0714 / OBS 061.2
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment /
Ill-treatment in detention
January 23, 2015
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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Iran.
New information:
On December 29, 2014, the imprisoned unionist Mr. Behnam (Assad) Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Labour Unions (CPELU) and a child rights activist, was notified of a new prison sentence and fine imposed on him. He had been tried on December 3 by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran, and sentenced to a total of 9 years and 4.5 months’ imprisonment, consisting of 7 years and 6 months on a charge of “assembly and collusion against the national security; contacts with an opposition group abroad”, one year and six months and a fine of 4.5 million Iranian rials (approximately US$150) on a charge of “spreading propaganda against the State through contacts with UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed” and 4.5 months for “keeping playing cards in prison”. 
Mr. Ebrahimzadeh staged a hunger strike for 31 days (between December 3, 2014 and January 3, 2015), in protest against his illegal transfer from Evin prison to the remote Rajaishahr prison, against his detention in Rajaishahr prison away from political prisoners among common criminals, and against the new charges and trial against him.
Mr Ebrahimzadeh has been serving a five-year prison sentence since June 2010 for his activities as a member of the CPELU and as a child rights activist. The authorities have frequently harassed Mr. Ebrahimzadeh as well as his family. He is currently in need of medical care[1].
In addition, on January 3, 2015, Mr. Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz, another imprisoned unionist, member of the the CPELU and of the Teachers’ Association of Iran (TAI), was tried by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran for allegedly “insulting the Leader.” Reports indicate that he has another pending case with the same charge in Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court. His three-year prison sentence ended in late October 2014, but the authorities refused to release him and subsequently transferred him to solitary confinement on December 31, 2014.
Furthermore, Mr. Saeed Shirzad, another labour and child rights activist, who was arrested in the North-Western city of Tabriz on June 2, 2014 and spent two months in solitary confinement, has been transferred to a general ward in Evin prison, but has not been tried yet. His charges reportedly include “assembly and collusion against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the State”, but his lawyer has not yet been granted access to his case file.
Messrs. Khaled Hosseini, Yadollah Samadi, Mehrdad Amin-Vaziri, Farzad Moradinia, Ribvar Abdollahi and Fardin Miraki, all members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations (CCHFWO), were arrested in the city of Sanandaj (western Iran) in November and December 2014 and released on bail pending trial.
In the meantime, two members of CCHFWO, Messrs Mohammad Molanaei and Ghaleb Hosseini, and one member of TAI, Mohammad Davari, have been released upon serving their prison sentences[2].
Background information:
The Observatory more generally notes that at least 10 other trade unionists are currently in prison in Iran, and that a number of others are facing long-term prison sentences. The currently imprisoned unionists are:
 Mr. Reza Shahabi Zakaria, Treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of United Bus Company of Tehran, (serving a 6 years prison sentence);
 Messrs. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarrahi, two members of CPELU and founding members of the Painters and Decorators Union (serving 11.5 years and to 5 years imprisonment respectively);
 Messrs. Yousef Ab-Kharabat, Vahed Seyedeh and Afshin Nadimi, three members of the CCHFWO (serving 2 years, 2 years and one year respectively);
 Messrs. Mahmood Bagheri, Abdolreza Ghabari and Rassoul Bodaghi, three members of the TAI (sentenced to 4.5 years, 15 years and 6 years respectively). Mr. Rassoul Bodaghi is said to be facing new charges designed to extend his arbitrary detention.
It is also to be noted that Mr. Khaled Hosseini and three senior members of the TAI, Messrs Ali-Akbar Baghani, Mahmood Beheshti-Langaroudi and Alireza Hashemi, have been sentenced to prison terms and are awaiting the outcome of their appeals.
Prison sentences have also been upheld against several members of the CCHFWO, who are at risk of arrest. These are Messrs. Hassan Rassoulnejad, Jamal Minashiri, Hadi Tanoumand, Ghassem Mostafapour, Ebrahim Mostafapour and Mohammad Karimi.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing arbitrary detention, unfair trial and extended prison sentence of Mr. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh as well as about the judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz and all the above-mentioned trade unionists, who are punished only for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association, as enshrined in the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a State party, as well as in the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all the above-mentioned trade unionists and to stop persecution against all of them, by dropping the charges against them and putting an end to the practice of summoning, interrogating, and prosecuting unionists.
Actions requested:
Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all the above-mentioned trade unionists as well as of all other human rights defenders in Iran;
ii. Release immediately and unconditionally all the detained trade unionists mentioned above and all other human rights defenders who are detained in Iran merely as an attempt to sanction their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against all the above-mentioned trade unionists and all other human rights defenders in Iran and ensure in all circumstances that they can carry out their activities without interference;
iv. Conform in all circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
- 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”, 
- and 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.
• 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, Tel: +98 21 64411; Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email:; Twitter: @khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Tel: +98 21 64451/6133; Fax: + 98 21 644 54811; Email:; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur Street, Vali Asr Avenue, south of Serah-e Jomhuri, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email:; / /
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Kushk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149;
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, [Care of] Office of the Head of the Judicary, Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave, South of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Mohsen Naziri Asl, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Barimani, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, 15 a avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:
Please also write to diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, January 23, 2015
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: 
• E-mail: 
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

1. See Observatory Press Release of April 30, 2014 and Urgent Appeals IRN 004 / 0714 / OBS 061, July 3, 2014, and IRN 004 / 0714 / OBS 061.1, September 4, 2014, for additional details about the imprisoned unionists, including different forms of harassment and denial of medical care.
2. Another human rights defender, Mr. Alireza Karamati-Rad, a unionist and child rights activist, began serving his three-month prison sentence in Rajaishahr prison on August 16, 2014 for his conviction on a charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader”, but his present status is unknown.

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