CODIR calls upon the regime in Iran to end its torture, inhumane treatment, and intimidation of political prisoners, trade unionists, and human rights activists!

The struggle of the Iranian people for basic freedoms, civil rights, and social justice, will not be stifled by the arrest of social activists and intensification of repression in the country!

Last month, scores of political prisoners in the notorious Ghezel Hesar Prison [in Karaj, Iran] went on hunger strike to protest against the increased punitive measures and restrictions imposed by the authorities. The prisoners also stated their solidarity with and support for the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement upon its first anniversary.

Independent news and media outlets have reported the continuing waves of arrests and harsh prison sentences against civil rights activists in the country. These reports have noted that an intensification and sharpening of this pattern in the weeks leading up to the first anniversary of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement, which began in September 2022 – a movement that has since thoroughly shaken the regime in Iran and attracted international attention.

Farhad Hosseini, a postgraduate student in management at the Azad University of Zanjan was arrested by the security forces on Tuesday 19 September and is currently being held and interrogated at the repressive IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) detention centre in the city. On the following day, Mohammad Mehdi Vosoughian, an Anaesthesiology student and deputy secretary of the student union of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, was arrested and detained after 15 regime security agents stormed his residence, viciously beating and insulting him in the process.

In an effort to prevent the resumption and spread of the popular movement, the regime’s security forces have pre-emptively moved to arrest a large number of social activists, campaigners for women’s rights, teachers, pensioners, students, writers, artists, and reporters.

According to the reports, some prominent political prisoners [already incarcerated by the authorities] have not been spared from the current wave of repression and have been undergoing intensified punishment and torture, both physical and psychological, in the regime’s prisons and detention centres.

Ms. Sarvenaz Ahmadi, a children’s rights advocate and campaigner as well as translator, currently held in Evin Prison, also disclosed in a recently published letter that several political prisoners who had not given-in to the repression and torture meted out to them and continued to support the popular protest movement, were transferred from Evin Prison to the notoriously brutal conditions at Ghezel Hesar Prison for further punishment on Sunday 3 September.

Ms. Ahmadi mentioned in her letter that her 28-year-old husband, Kamyar Fakour, who is a journalist in the field of environmental economics as well as a songwriter, was taken “along with 12 other prisoners […] to the secure ward of the notorious Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj, under the false ploy of receiving visitors there. This act represents oppression heaped on top of oppression […] There are daily reports of their [the transferees’] increasingly dire condition, from abuse and beatings to [the point of] unconsciousness – as in the case of Jafar Ebrahimi, a teacher who should have been released due to his health conditions and not exiled to a horrible dungeon […] These 13 people are now on hunger strike in support of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising and have once again demonstrated that there is resistance wherever there is oppression.”

The prisoners who were transferred from Evin Prison to the brutal and filthy environs of Ghezel Hesar Prison are: Jafar Ebrahimi, Kamyar Fakour, Luqman Aminpour, Saeed Masouri, Afshin Baimani, Sepehr Imamjomeh, Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb, Mohammad Shafei, Saman Saidi (Yasin), Hamzeh Savari, Ahmadreza Haeri, Reza Salmanzadeh, and Masoudreza Ebrahiminijad.

The Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA), report on “the latest situation of the prisoners who were moved from Evin Prison to Ghezel Hesar Prison”, stated that the transferees have had to remain alert and stand guard around the clock to protect their own personal security. It has been reported that these political prisoners have been placed alongside dangerous convicted criminals, including those being held on death row.

According to this report, “the exiled prisoners do not have any access to fresh air and are kept 24 hours a day in a closed space with no ventilation.” Furthermore, their ward “lacks any cooking facilities or ordinary grocery provision [as is standard elsewhere].” The prison ward on which they are held “lacks basic facilities such as drinking water or hot water for taking a shower.”

According to other reports published by human rights activists, in addition to the 13 transferred from Evin Prison, another 25 political prisoners were recently separately transferred from Gohardasht Prison to the dungeons at Ghezel Hesar Prison.

In Ms. Ahmadi’s letter, she confirmed that, “As of today, 17 September, I will go on hunger strike in solidarity with the resistance of these prisoners and [even] following the conclusion of their hunger strike, I will continue to protest against their exile and double oppression with a sit-in and another hunger strike, if necessary […] This protest symbolises the opposition to the unjust practice of exiling prisoners to another place of repression, such as a prison. It serves as a poignant reminder of the hardships faced by individuals like Jafar Ebrahimi, who is experiencing deteriorating eyesight […] This protest is a condemnation of the harassment, anxieties, and worries faced by many […] It is a small but meaningful tribute to honour the profound suffering and resilience of individuals like Maryam, the wife of Bektash Abtin, who wore a red wedding dress [after receiving the news of the death in custody of her husband]. It is for my colleague, Anisha Asadollahi, who is refused her 3-minute due visitation time to see her husband, Keyvan, who is detained for [merely] reciting poetry. It is for Saeed Soltanpour, who was kidnapped on his wedding night to supposedly erase him from the face of the earth. It is for Pouri and Morteza Keyvan [a famous Iranian poet executed by the Shah’s regime]. It is for all those who do not even have a specific grave, marking the resting place of their beloved […] And it is for Hananeh Kia. Although my protest will transition into an individual effort after the collective hunger strike concludes, it is with unwavering faith in our collective actions and with the hope that the remnants of my strength will be enough for our delicate dream to prevail over the harsh reality that we are now facing.”

CODIR calls for the immediate, unconditional, and safe release of Mohammad Habibi – and for a campaign of protest and pressure against the authorities in Iran for as long as this call remains unheeded. We reiterate our longstanding demand for the release of all trade unionists, civic activists, and political prisoners in Iran, and a definitive end to the regime’s campaign of persecution against them.

Finally, CODIR calls upon all its affiliates – particularly trade unions – to show their principled support for, and solidarity with, those campaigning for human and democratic rights, including trade union rights, in Iran. We likewise call upon the support of democratic, progressive, and pro-peace forces around the world to respond positively to our call for appropriate action.

4 October 2023

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