Reza Shahabi, an Iranian labour leader imprisoned since June 2010, went on hunger strike on 17 Dec 2012 to protest against mistreatment by jail guards as well as prevention of his medical treatment by the judicial authorities.
Reza Shahabi's physical conditions have deteriorated. He has announced that he will refuse taking his medication and eating food until he is allowed to be transferred to a hospital outside prison for complete treatment.
Mr. Reza Shahabi who had gone under major surgery of his neck, and according to doctors’ recommendations was in need of at least “two months rest at home”, and “incapable of withstanding any further punishment,” was sent back to Ward 350 of Evin prison on August 14, 2012. Since then, his health deteriorated significantly. In addition, his jail guards have be very insulting and he has been threatened recently by one of his guards. Reza was taken to hospital on December 15, 2012 but the jail guard accompanying him refused to allow him for proper examination and forced Reza, with threats of beating and assaulting him, to go back to prison.
Reza Shahabi is the Treasurer and Executive Board member of the Syndicate of workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, which belongs to the Municipality of Tehran and has more than seventeen thousand employees. All Executive board members of this union have been persecuted, dismissed and many were jailed since the formation of the Syndicate in 2005. He has recently been sentenced to 6 year imprisonment and five year ban on all union activities as well as 7 million Toman fine; the appeal court seems to have confirmed his sentence for four years imprisonment, five year ban on all union activities and 7 million toman penalty. Reza Shahabi's health deteriorated significantly after severe beatings and mistreatment following his arrest. The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are directly responsible for any consequence resulting from continued imprisonment and mistreatment of Reza Shahabi.
Sample Protest letter: Reza Shahabi must be immediately released and promptly treated.
I (we) are writing to protest the continued persecution of labour activist and the gross violation of workers' rights in Iran. We continue to witness many labour activists brutally persecuted and unjustly imprisoned in Iran. In particular, I am seriously concerned about the health and well being of Reza Shahabi. Reza Shahabi, the executive board member and treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran Bus Workers' Company, has been incarcerated for more than two and half years. Shahabi was severely beaten during his interrogation in detention. He underwent cervical spine operation on July 24, 2012. Medical doctors have been recom- mending treatment of his back as well. Contrary to doctors' recommendations, Shahabi was sent back to Ward 350 of Evin prison on August 14, 2012. Since then, his health has been drastically deteriorated. On December 17th, 212, Reza Shahabi went on hunger strike to protest intimidating behaviour of his jail guard as well as the continued lack of proper medical treatment. He has also refused to take any medication.
I (we) strongly condemn the unjust arrest and sentence against Reza Shahabi and other labour activists. I (we) also denounce ongoing persecution and arrests of labour activists in Iran. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of Reza Shahabi and all detained labour activists in Iran.
Please send your protests letters to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; avaei@Dadgostary- tehran.ir; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; CC: firstname.lastname@example.org
On December 31, 2012, the prison's authorities, during a conversation with Reza, and in their contacts with his family, stated that Reza may be allowed for temporarily release for medical treatment if a bail is secured and posted for his release. On January 1, 2013, Reza Shahabi's family put up bail to secure Shahabi's release from Evin prison for the medical treatment as stated above.
This is an exciting development and great news; however, great caution is needed until Shahabi's release is confirmed. Reza's family and colleagues are hoping that he will be freed on bail without delay, hopefully by January 2nd, 2013; otherwise, his release might be delayed as the government offices will be closed during the weekend (Thursdays and Fridays) and reopen on Saturday.
As of January 1, 2013, Reza Shahabi has lost 10 Kilogram of weight after 15 days of hunger strike. Reza continues to be on hunger strike and refuses medication as well; he has announced he would only stop his hunger strike when he is indeed outside prison.
Reza Shahabi Defence Committee has issued a statement on December 31st according to which Reza Shahabi has sent his warm greetings and appreciation to all workers, labor organizations, individuals and international organizations that have disseminated information about his condition as well as organizing protest actions in his support.
Twenty two well-known labour and trade union activists in Iran, including Mansour Osanloo and Ali Nejati, in an open letter, have asked Reza, to end his hunger strike. While greatly appreciating this request and all support and solidarity he has been receiving domestically and internationally, Reza is still determined to continue with his hunger strike until his basic demands are met (see the letter below).
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
email@example.com / www.workers-iran.org