Two Women Labor Activists Flogged; Their Crime: Celebrating May Day
(20 February 2009) Two Iranian women labor activists, convicted for participating in May Day celebrations, have been punished by flogging, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today.
According to local sources, on 18 February, Sussan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi were flogged inside the central prison in Sanandaj, capital of the Iranian Kurdistan province. Razani was flogged 70 lashes and Kheirabadi received 15 lashes.
“These inhumane and barbaric floggings demonstrate an utter disregard for the rights of Iranian citizens by a hardliner clique inside the Judiciary, who are determined to drag Iran’s human rights record to new lows,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
Branch 101 of Sanandaj Penal Court originally sentenced Razani to a 9-month suspended prison term and 70 lashes. The same court sentenced Kheirabadi to a 4-month suspended sentence and 40 lashes.
The appeals court reinstated the lower court’s sentence for Razani but reduced Kheirabadi’s sentence from 40 lashes to 15 lashes. The two women were informed of the appeals court’s decision on 15 February. Both women were prosecuted because of their participation in a May Day celebration in Sanandaj on 1 May 2008.
The court also sentenced two other labor activists, Abdullah Khani and Syed Ghalib Husseini, for participating in the same event to prison terms and flogging.
Last year the Judiciary also flogged workers who had participated in May Day celebrations. On 16 February 2008, Sanandaj’s Revolutionary Court issued a flogging sentence and fines for 11 workers who participated in the 2007 May Day celebration. On the same day, the authorities carried out the flogging sentences of 10 lashes each for three of the workers, Sadeq Amjadi, Fars Gooyilian, and Habibollah Kalehkani.
Iranian workers are struggling to form independent labor unions but face continuous state repression. The government and the Judiciary have regularly abused the justice system to imprison and silence labor activists.
The Campaign called on the Iranian authorities to honor their international legal obligation to recognize workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and to form unions to protect their interests. These rights are guaranteed by Article 22 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of which Iran is a signatory. As a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Iran is obligated to respect and implement these rights.
“Iranian workers are suffering great hardship under the current dismal economic situation. There is an urgent need for them to be able to negotiate collectively and defend their rights and interests,” Ghaemi said.
The Campaign also called on the Iranian Judiciary and the parliament to abolish the inhumane punishment of flogging from its penal code.
“The parliament is currently considering a new draft of the Islamic Penal Code and it is time to remove flogging as a punishment through legislative action,” Ghaemi added.