Iran tries again to silence workers’ voices
UPDATE: 19 April – Ebrahim Madadi (mentioned below) has been released at the end of his jail term.
Reza Shahabi, Treasurer of the Vahed bus workers’ syndicate (union) in Tehran, and a bus worker himself, has been jailed for six years after nearly two years of harassment and imprisonment by the authorities in Iran. As usual, the sentence was handed down not by the usual criminal or civil courts, but by by Judge Salavati in Branch 15 of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court, which is not bound by the usual rules of evidence or proof. This sentence includes a year’s prison sentence on charges of “propaganda activities against the system” and five years in prison on charges of “conspiracy with the intention of acting against national security”.
The true nature of the ‘offence’ Reza has been punished for is revelead by the fact that in addition to his prison term, Reza has been prohibited from all union activities for a further five years. The Iranian regime is hell-bent on ensuring that workers have no independent voice, despite the regime’s claim to uphold the workers’ rights laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Global unions will be pressing for the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards to hear a case against the Iranian government over freedom of association this June.
The Vahed bus workers’ syndicate is affiliated to the global International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Its General Secretary, David Cockroft, said: “This sentence is outrageous. A man whose health is failing is being condemned to years of imprisonment on farcical charges. The Iranian government has stooped to a new low. Surely there are still some within it who can reverse this horrendous persecution.”
Other Vahed union leaders persecuted by the Iranian authorities include Mansour Osanloo, who was finally released on bail last summer, and Ebrahim Madadi, who remains in prison.