Labor Activists’ Appeals Look Bleak

Posted on: November 2nd, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Labor activist Ebrahim Madadi’s prison sentence of five years and three months has been upheld in Branch 36 of Tehran Revolutionary Appeals Court.

If the outcome of Madadi’s appeal has come clear, the case of his co-defendant Davoud Razavi is less so: the absence of a judge has delayed the appeals hearing that was scheduled to review his own five-year prison sentence on October 31st of this year.

Madadi and Razavi were arrested April 28, 2014, for labor activism, detained in Evin prison, and released 22 days later on 1 billion IRR [approximately $25,000 USD] bail. Their initial trial was held in Branch 26 of Revolutionary Court.

Madadi is the vice president of the Greater Tehran Bus Drivers’ Syndicate and a longtime labor activist. Saleh Nikbakht, the attorney for both men, told HRANA that authorities have historically founded their allegations against Madadi on his syndical activities– so many manifestations, she said, of their intolerance of syndicates like the Bus Drivers’ Union. Egregious in the eyes of the judiciary, the attorney said, was Madadi’s distribution of sweets at a bus terminal on International Workers’ Day (May 1st) 2014, and his 2015 lobbying at the Labor Ministry for a higher minimum wage. Madadi served a 3-year prison sentence, also connected to his labor activism, that ended April 18, 2012.

Likewise, Revolutionary Court cited Razavi’s participation in the minimum-wage demonstrations as evidence of “collusion and assembly to act against national security.” The publishing of photos from these demonstrations was tantamount to anti-regime propaganda, they said; rallying fellow citizens to attend an International Labour Organization conference was endorsing “the labor opposition movement outside of Iran” (the ILO is an official UN agency). The court offered no other evidence connecting Razavi to a criminal offense.

In a statement dated April 2017, Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities “to immediately and unconditionally release those imprisoned for their peaceful trade union work, and quash the harsh prison sentences […] and allow workers to hold peaceful gatherings, including on International Workers’ Day, and to exercise their right to form and join independent trade unions to improve their living situations.”

Madadi, a sexagenarian, suffers from diabetes, prostate inflammation, and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Secondary to a stroke, he has gone deaf in one ear and suffered partial hearing loss in the other.

Teacher Activist of Sound Mind Sequestered in Psych Ward

Posted on: October 26th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Retired teacher and current teacher’s union member Hashem Khastar, who has no history of mental illness, was arrested in front of his garden on the evening of Tuesday, October 23rd and dispatched by ambulance to Mashhad’s Ibn Sina Hospital Psychiatric Ward.

Khastar’s family were suspicious and worried, a close source said, when they came home Tuesday to find his car unlocked in front of the house. On a Wednesday phone call — his first contact with his family since the arrest — Khastar said that the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had arrested and admitted him to the hospital for reasons they wouldn’t disclose.

According to the source, Khastar’s family were initially forbidden by security agents from visiting him in the ward but were more recently able to obtain that permission through coordination with authorities. Khastar — who declared hunger strike earlier today, October 25th, demanding to see his wife — explained during her visit the details of his arrest: “They brought some articles of my clothing into the ambulance, took me straight to the hospital, and put shackles on my feet.”

It is rumored that this puzzling detainment was ordered by the prosecutor’s office. As of the date of this report, no further information is available on the reasons behind Khastar’s arrest.

A recent arrest during silent teacher protests on June 21, 2018, landed Khastar, 65, in a Security Police detention center on Abbas Abad (formerly Vozara) street. In 2009, he was arrested in connection to widespread protests following that year’s Iranian presidential elections and was fined by Iranian courts for two letters he wrote from Vakilabad Prison. He was released, then arrested again later for refusing to pay the fine.

Mashhad is the capital of Razavi Khorasan province, located in Iran’s northeast.

Teacher Mohammad Habibi Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: September 4th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Amid hopes that ailing prisoner Mohammad Habibi would be released for medical treatment, he was instead transferred from the Great Tehran Penitentiary to the Quarantine Ward of Evin Prison on Monday, September 3, 2018.

Despite suffering from a kidney condition, the union activist and member of the board of directors of the Teachers’ Union Association of the Province of Tehran was previously denied care on a prior release to the hospital.

A source close to Habibi’s family confirmed news of the Evin transfer to HRANA, adding that Habibi had updated his family on the phone and told them of a pending transfer from the Quarantine Ward to the General Ward, scheduled for Tuesday.

The source detailed Habibi’s difficulties thus far in getting adequate care. “According to a letter from a supervisory court official dated July 8 of this year, Habibi was to receive urgent medical attention. However, for unknown reasons, this letter was never delivered to Habibi. He only saw the letter ten days ago while seeking care at the internal clinic of Great Tehran Penitentiary, at which point he discussed it with officials and was transferred to Imam Khomeini Hospital.

In absence of a practicing nephrologist at Imam Khomeini Hospital, Habibi was examined by a general practitioner who recommended immediate admission for specialized testing and possible surgery. Though eight days have passed since this exam, authorities have yet to follow up on the recommendation, as his family grows ever more concerned about his health.

On August 4, 2018, Mohammad Habibi’s attorney Amir Raeisiyan reported that his client was sentenced to ten and a half years’ imprisonment, despite the fact that the maximum cumulative prison sentence for all of Habibi’s charges would be seven and a half years. At that time Habibi was subjected to the additional penalties of 74 lashings, a two-year ban on civic activities, and a two-year travel ban.

Prior to this, in separate open letters and press releases, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates, 6,500 teachers and civil society activists, and over 100 educators — all alumni of Shahid Rajai University– demanded his immediate release, and that attention is paid to his medical condition.

Habibi was previously arrested at his place of employment on March 3, 2018, and jailed for 44 days. On April 15, 2018, he was released on a bail of approximately $50,000 USD.

On May 10, 2018, the Council for Coordination of Teaching Syndicates urged teachers, be they retired or employed, to assemble in protest across the country. In Tehran, several of those who responded to the call were arrested and transferred to Evin Prison; all but Habibi were released on bail three days later.

Mohammad Habibi has remained in custody since, and according to a letter from his HR office, is no longer receiving his salary.