Solidarity group expresses concern for hunger striker in Iran

19th June 2016

Press Release

For Immediate Use

Solidarity organisation, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR), has expressed grave concern about the deteriorating health of Iranian political prisoner, Jafar Azimzadeh, who has been on hunger strike for over fifty days.


Mr. Azimzadeh has lost a considerable amount of weight, his blood pressure has dropped and he is having vision problems.


The Tehran bus drivers’ union, the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) called for Mr. Azimzadeh’s release from prison and warned the public that his health had been greatly affected by his strike.


Tehran’s prosecutor’s office demanded that he stop the hunger strike after he was unable to walk from his cell to the visitor’s hall to see his wife, on 17th May and even offered the chance of long-term leave from prison, for fear of him becoming a ‘martyr’.


Mr. Azimzadeh rejected the offer and replied in no uncertain terms, stating,


“I did not go on hunger strike in order to be permitted to have prison leave.  In the letter that I had written prior to beginning my hunger strike, I set out my demands clearly, and I expect them to be fulfilled.  The first step to fulfilling these demands is to halt the implementation of the [current] verdicts and reevaluate our file rejecting the accusation of acting against national security.  I will, therefore, continue with my indefinite hunger strike”.


Mr. Azimzadeh went on hunger strike on 29th April.  He was arrested last November following peaceful and lawful trade union demonstrations and is now serving a six-year sentence.  He began his protest after being refused the right to properly defend himself in court.


Charges against Azimzadeh include, the formation of the Free Union of Iranian Workers; the formation of the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers, in cooperation with the Committee of Labour Unions; gathering in Laleh Park in 2009 on International Workers’ Day; and the planning and management of workers’ protests in 2014.


CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the concern felt by trade unionists around the world for the fate of those imprisoned in Iran.


“The international trade union movement has sent clear messages of solidarity to those languishing in Iran’s prisons ensuring that the eyes of the world are upon the regime.  The continued detention of these trade unionists reflects the fate of many fighting for freedom inside Iran,” said Mr Ahmadi, “Jafar Azimzadeh in particular has taken a stand which we fear will result in irreversible health problems.  This is for merely engaging in activities which would be regarded as standard rights in any real democracy.”


The CODIR May Day appeal, on behalf of  imprisoned teachers and  36 independent journalists, including leading figures in the media, who have been incarcerated on spurious charges, gained widespread international support.


CODIR points out that the government of Hassan Rouhani has failed to take measures to ease pressure on trade union activists and human rights campaigners in the country.  On the contrary, all evidence points to the fact that the Iranian regime is not showing any signs of moving in the direction of enacting crucial ILO conventions 87 and 98.


CODIR, which has campaigned for over 30 years to highlight trade union and human rights abuses in Iran, will continue to campaign for the release of unjustly imprisoned trade unionists and to repeal the unjust and brutal sentencing laws in Iran.


Human rights have not been on the agenda with the Iranian regime in the discussions around its nuclear programme, which resulted in sanctions being lifted earlier this year.  CODIR has expressed concern that this may be taken as carte blanche by the regime to act as it pleases on the domestic front, as long as it fulfils its international obligations.


“CODIR will continue its campaigning for trade union and democratic rights in Iran,” continued Jamshid Ahmadi.  “We welcome the lifting of sanctions and reduction of tensions between Iran and the rest of the world and in particular the US and the EU.  However this should not be at the expense of liberty for Iranian trade unionists, democrats and human rights activists.”


As CODIR has emphasised previously, human rights violations are part of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to maximise pressure upon human rights and trades union activists, their colleagues and family members, in order to pressurise the opposition movement in Iran.





Note for Editors

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Further information for Editors

CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights.  It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

CODIR has worked closely with the trade union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran’s prisons.

CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.


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