Labor Activists Spend Second Week in Detention without Charges
Two labor activists who were arrested at their homes on April 30, 2014, one day before a planned Labor Day gathering in Tehran, remain in detention without charges or outside contact except for one brief family visit.
Jafaar Azimzadeh, President of the Free Workers Union of Iran, and Jamil Mohammadi, a board member of the Union, were put in solitary confinement in the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209 at Evin Prison after their arrest, where they remain.
The brother of Jamil Mohammadi, Kaveh Mohammadi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “We wrote a letter to the President and the Minister of Intelligence and explained that Jamil is a simple worker. He was only trying to improve the livelihood and work conditions for himself and other workers. His activities were within the country’s laws and he has never done anything illegal. We asked the President and the Minister of Intelligence to quickly free him. A worker does not deserve to be detained. He made his living selling books.”
He added that the family had gone to Evin Prison numerous times in the past two weeks to ask about his brother but the officials kept insisting they should leave and not come back until they are contacted by the authorities.
“Is that a fair answer? My mother is extremely worried and all she does every day is go to the prosecutor’s office. We don’t even know what he’s charged with.”
Jamil Mohammadi, 37, a worker at a bookstore on Tehran’s Enghelab Street, was one of the organizers of a petition signed by some 40,000 workers demanding higher wages and better work conditions.
“The night when agents came to arrest Jamil, they asked him in front of me and my sister about the 40,000-signature petition. They said he was collecting signatures and organizing protests. That’s all they said but it does not amount to an official charge,” Kaveh Mohammadi said.
The next day, more than 25 workers were attacked, arrested, and taken to Evin Prison by security forces at the May 1 gathering in front of the Labor Ministry and the bus terminal at Azadi Square in Tehran. The gathering was to protest wages and labor conditions on the occasion of International Labor Day, and to demand implementation of Article 44 of the Labor Law regarding balancing inflation with workers’ salaries.
Those who worked for the Tehran Bus Company were released the same night. Parvin Mohammadi and Shapour Ehsani-Rad, two members of the Free Workers Union were also released the next day. Another labor activist, Maziar Gilaninejad, was released on May 7.
“My mother, sister, brother and I were only able to visit Jamil for five or six minutes. He was in very good spirits and told my mother that the agents had not mistreated him. I don’t know whether Jamil said that so that my mother wouldn’t get upset, or if he really had not been treated badly,” Kaveh Mohammadi told the Campaign.
The Free Workers Union wrote a letter to the International Labor Organization on May 4, calling for its support to secure the release of Jamil Mohammadi and Jafar Azimzadeh. Meanwhile, the International Trade Union Confederation has written to President Rouhani requesting that the two detainees be freed.