May Day support for jailed labour activists in Iran
Ahead of May Day – a day of international workers’ solidarity – Shiva Mahbobi, former political prisoner and spokesperson for the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI), spoke to Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers member Paul Heron.
Millions of people in Iran live under the poverty line. At the same time they are suppressed on a daily basis – they have no rights to show their dissent and protest.Workers routinely face working conditions that are dangerous and life threatening. They do not receive a decent wage and sometimes they are not even paid for months on end. Workers are not allowed to go on strike, show their protest and organise in any form of labour organisation or trade union. They are banned from celebrating May Day.
Workers who dare to speak up and defend their rights or organise a protest, will be arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Their families will be harassed by the state. In some cases, family members not associated with the struggle are arrested and imprisoned in order to exert more pressure on their jailed loved ones.
Despite attempts at suppression and the continued use of imprisonment and torture, workers still risk their lives, go on strike and protest. Some of the labour activists currently in prison include: Sharokh Zamani, Vahed Sayedeh, Jafar Azimzadeh, Jamil Mohamadi, Rasoul Bodaghi, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Muhamad Jarahi, Mahmoud Bagheri, Kourosh Bakhshandeh, Yousof Abkharabat and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh. These are only a few names and there are many more trade union activists and socialists currently in prison.
These labour activists are under immense pressure but still manage to speak up against their situation even from prison.
One of these jailed labour activists is Behnam Ebrarimzadeh, who was arrested in 2010 and is currently serving the fourth year of his five-year prison sentence. He was tried again and given nine and a half years in December 2014 for sending a letter exposing his situation in prison to international communities.
Behnam suffers from various ailments such as kidney pain and bleeding, gum disease, arthritis, neck and back injuries and stomach ulcers due to extended periods of torture followed by lack of any medical intervention. Behnam went on hunger strike several times and as a result suffered from intestinal bleeding. Behnam’s only son suffers from leukaemia and his family can barely afford to pay for his medical treatments. Behnam’s father and brother were arrested for several days while Behnam was in prison.
Behnam’s family is not allowed to visit him in prison and his father, in a letter in April 2015, explained the pressure they are currently under:
“Behnam’s son is currently going through medical treatments for cancer and his family is under immense pressure. Behnam is now held in a section of Rajaeeshahr prison in Iran where non-political prisoners are also held. Behnam’s life and health, due to lack of medication, is in grave danger. I ask all concerned individuals and organisations to help Behnam to be released from prison; we need your help and support”.
Help us to be the voice of Behnam and his family and all other jailed labour activists in Iran.
Join the picket of the Iranian embassy
Friday 1st May 2015, 6pm – 8pm
In front of the Iranian embassy in London, 16 Princes Gate, London SW7 1PT
Organised by the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Free Them Now (Campaign to free jailed workers in Iran), Free Behnam Campaign
For more information contact Shiva Mahbobi: 0757 235 6661 firstname.lastname@example.org
There will also be parallel protests on 1st May in Sweden (Gothenburg and Stockholm), Canada (Ottawa and Toronto), Australia (Sydney) and Norway (Oslo).