Rajaee Shahr Prison Officials Refuse to Hospitalize Labor Activist Reza Shahabi After He Has a Stroke
An imprisoned trade unionist, Reza Shahabi, has been denied hospitalization despite suffering a stroke, according to a statement by the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (UWTSBC) published on December 14, 2017.
“During a prison visit on Wednesday [December 13, 2017], his relatives noticed that the left side of Shahabi’s face was drooping and that his left eye had sunken in,” reported the UWTSBC. “He said when he went to the prison clinic, the doctor told him he had suffered a mild stroke.”
“Even after his stroke, Shahabi was not transferred to the hospital for a checkup to prevent him from getting worse,” continued the UWTSBC.
“His stroke proves that the doctors were right when they determined he is not healthy enough to endure prison conditions… Therefore he must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”
“We hold the security agencies, the Tehran prosecutor, and prison officials responsible for Shahabi’s life,” added the statement.
A source with contacts inside Rajaee Shahr Prison in the city of Karaj, where Shahabi is being held, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on December 14, 2017, that Shahabi required medical attention before the stroke occurred.
“Shahabi has been suffering from frequent headaches, nose bleeds, and difficulty moving his hands, feet, and neck,” said the source who asked not to be identified for security reasons. “He is in good spirits but in this condition, he must not be treated in the prison clinic.”
“He must be freed or granted medical leave to get treatment in a hospital,” added the source. “He needs a specialist doctor by his side in case he suffers another stroke or if some other problem happens.”
A board member of the UWTSBC, Shahabi, 45, was arrested in June 2010 and sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security” for peacefully advocating labor rights in Iran. He was also banned from engaging in civic activism for five years.
In September 2014, Shahabi was granted medical leave but nearly three years later was informed that the time he had spent outside the prison on medical furlough was not counted as time served and that he would have to return to the prison.
When Shahabi returned to Rajaee Shahr Prison on August 8, 2017, he was told he would have to serve the five months that remained on his sentence before he was released on furlough as well as a year for his alleged role in a clash between guards and prisoners in Evin Prison on April 17, 2014, that left many prisoners injured.
Labor activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.