Labor Rights Activists Detained Incommunicado in Iranian Kurdish City of Sanandaj
Labor rights activists Hashem Rostami and Mozaffar Salehinia have been imprisoned in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kordestan Province, for more than two weeks without charge or access to a lawyer, informed sources told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“A one-month detention order has been issued for Hashem Rostami and he is not allowed visits by his family or lawyer,” said Mohammad Ali Salehi, a member of the independent Coordinating Committee for the Establishment of Labor Organizations. “The charges against him are unclear because he was not particularly active and it seems his arrest is related to his friendship with other labor activists.”
Rostami, who is in his seventies, was on his way to the funeral of a former labor activist at a mosque in Sanandaj when three Intelligence Ministry agents arrested him. Salehi told the Campaign that in recent years Rostami had been arrested at workers’ rights rallies on a number of other occasions and interrogated, but never formally charged.
Salehi said that when the Intelligence Ministry is investigating detainees they are usually not allowed access to a lawyer until their case is handed over to the Judiciary. But according to Article 190 of Iran’s Criminal Code of Procedure “suspects can have a lawyer in the initial investigation stage and this right should be communicated to them before the investigations begin.”
Mozaffar Salehinia, a board member of the Free Workers Union of Iran, has meanwhile been detained in Sanandaj Central Prison since June 21, 2016.
“On July 5 the authorities said he was going to be released and his family brought a property deed [as collateral] for his bail, but it turned out that the judge had gone on a holiday, so Salehinia remains in prison,” another source, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Campaign.
Salehinia was previously arrested in 2004 and 2011 for peacefully protesting for labor rights but was released after a short time.
Independent labor unions are banned in Iran, strikers are often fired and risk being detained, and labor leaders face long prison sentences on trumped up national security charges.