Arbitrary Detention of Trade Unionists Continues
Ali Nejati Held in Solitary Confinement in the Intelligence Detention Center in Ahwaz
(9 April 2009) The month-long detention and solitary confinement of Ali Nejati, President of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Union, is without legal justification, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. Nejati’s whereabouts were finally revealed after his wife visited him at the Intelligence Detention Center in Ahwaz on 6 April 2009. She was allowed to see him for only a few minutes.
Ali Nejati was arrested by Intelligence officials at his home on 8 March 2009. His lawyer, Mohammad Olyaeifard, informed the Campaign that he only learned of his client’s case and whereabouts on 6 April. He was told that Branch Two of the Security Prosecution Court in Shoush (a township in the southeast Iran) filed a case against Nejati and that he was being held in solitary confinement in the Intelligence Detention Center in Ahwaz. Nejati, according to his wife, is being interrogated on charges for which he was previously tried and sentenced. While Nejati’s health condition is satisfactory, his wife says he suffers from high blood pressure.
“Detention, solitary confinement and interrogation of trade unionists for their peaceful activities will not address Iran’s economic and labor crisis. Ill- treatment of Ali Nejati will not solve any problems, and is yet another violation of Iran’s international obligation to support worker’s rights,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
Workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Complex went on a one-day strike on 7 April 2009, where they called for the immediate release of Ali Nejati as well as recoupment of unpaid wages.
Olyaeifard, Nejati’s lawyer, told the Campaign: “The detention and interrogation of a person who has already been prosecuted for the same charges is illegal.” Olyaeifard is submitting a legal statement to the Judiciary, demonstrating that Nejati’s detention and interrogation are unlawful since he is being interrogated again for past charges, and stating that if Nejati is guilty of a new crime he should be legally arraigned in the presence of his legal representative.
Nejati, along with four other members of the Executive Board of the Union, was previously prosecuted on 17 and 23 February 2009. The attorney for the four board members has yet to be officially informed of the results of their trial.
In recent years, Iranian authorities have implemented highly repressive policies to suppress independent trade-unionist movements in Iran. Two leading members of the Tehran Bus Workers’ Union, Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, are currently in prison serving sentences related to their trade union activities. Mohsen Hakimi, a labor activist and member of the Iranian Writers Association, was detained without charge on 22 December 2008. On 18 February 2009, two female labor activists, Sussan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, were flogged for celebrating May Day.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on Iranian authorities to respect national and international labor rights and release all imprisoned trade unionists, including Ali Nejati, Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi, Mohsen Hakimi and Farzad Kamangar. The Campaign reminded Iranian authorities of their obligations and commitments to guarantee workers’ rights to establish and join independent trade unions under the International Labor Organization convention.