“Cookie Distribution,” Other Peaceful Activities Get Elderly Tehran Bus Driver 5+ Years in Prison
Tehran bus union activist Ebrahim Madadi has lost his appeal against the five-year, three-month prison sentence he was issued for engaging in peaceful labor activism.
Madadi, who is 60 and suffers from various health problems, was convicted of the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and lost his appeal against the preliminary sentence in October 2018.
One of the activities mentioned in Madadi’s indictment was distributing cookies to bus drivers in celebration of International Labor Day. The court also complained that he had negotiated with the Labor Ministry to raise the minimum wage for bus drivers.
Madadi’s colleague, lawyer Davoud Razavi, is currently waiting for the final decision on his appeal of the five-year prison sentence he was issued for the same charges.
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.
“The prison sentence against Ebrahim Madadi, the deputy chairman of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (UWTSBC), has been upheld by Branch 36 of the Revolutionary Appeals Court and submitted for enforcement,” the union announced on its Telegram channel on October 31, 2018.
Madadi previously served three and a half years in Tehran’s Evin Prison for engaging in peaceful labor activism until his release on April 18, 2012.
Agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry last arrested Madadi on April 29, 2015, along with Razavi.
“My clients (Madadi and Razavi) did not commit any act against national security,” said attorney Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht in a post on Telegram on October 30.
“Mr. Madadi is more than 60-years-old and suffers from diabetes, an enlarged prostate, and hearing issues,” Nikbakht added. “Enforcing his sentence would clearly cause him a lot of problems.”
The attorney continued: “Mr. Razavi had been talking with the Tehran municipality and city council members concerning bus union cooperatives. The discussions were not in any way confrontational and yet he was charged with ‘[assembly and] collusion against national security.’”
“Mr. Razavi has no previous arrest record and he as well as Mr. Madadi have always made it a priority to observe the country’s laws and pursue their demands only by legal means,” said Nikbakht.