Solidarity group calls for urgent action on Iranian prisoners

15th  September 2017

Press Release

For Immediate Use

Solidarity organisation, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR), has called for urgent action to secure the immediate release of two Iranian trade unionists on hunger strike.


In spite of a concerted international trade union campaign both Reza Shahabi, treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, and Esmail Abdi, General Secretary of the Tehran Teachers Trade Associationremain in prison and on hunger strike protesting at their sentences.


The health of both prisoners is reaching a critical point but there are particular concerns regarding Reza Shahabi who has entered the 37th day of hunger strike in prison. Such has been his deterioration that he has become completely emaciated with one side of his body now numb.


Shahabihas been incarcerated since 2010 on political charges, including “colluding against the security services” and “spreading propaganda”. Owing to the horrendous treatment he received at the hands of the prison authorities and the physical toll this had exacted upon him, he was given medical leave for part of his sentence. Upon being called back to prison to collect his personal belongings, he was shown paperwork documenting that he had fully served his custodial sentence.


However, despite this, the authorities chose to arbitrarily and cruelly extend his sentence on account of the medical leave he had been granted outside of the prison – his term of detention was extended to a further 968 days. In protest at his treatment, Shahabi began a hunger strike on 9th August.


Similarly, Esmail Abdi has been serving a six-year sentence on fabricated charges. Earlier this month, following 38 straight days on hunger strike, he was transferred to hospital as an emergency measure, only to be returned to prison a couple of days later.


CODIR Assistant Secretary,Jamshid Ahmadi, reflected the concerns of trade unionists across the world in comments today stating,


“The plight of these two trade unionists, both jailed on trumped up charges, is symptomatic of the attitude of the Iranian regime towards trade union activity.  Their imprisonment has been purely for attempting to improve the pay, terms and conditions of their members. The Iranian regime continues to flout the conventions of the International Labour Organisation as well as all the norms of natural justice.  Without concerted action the lives of these two men are clearly at risk.”


CODIR has consistently spoken out against the suppression of trade union rights by the Iranian regime.  The people of Iran, in their struggle for peace, democracy and human and democratic rights, deserve the right to organise in order to improve their pay and conditions.


Already IndustriALL global union, Education International, the TUC, NASUWT, NEU and several trade union confederations in Europe have written letters of protest regarding the plight of the two men.  CODIR is pressing for further action before it becomes too late.


CODIR has campaigned for over 30 years to highlight trade union and human rights abuses in Iran, and will continue to support the rights of the Iranian people and highlight injustice.





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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