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Iran: Prisoners of conscience

, Index number: MDE 13/055/2009

Four named workers along with four other members of the Metal workers and Mechanics Union, were arrested on 1 May 2009, at an International Workers’ Day event held in Nematabad, south Tehran. They are believed to be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally if held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/055/2009
10 June 2009
UA 146/09 Prisoners of conscience
IRAN Hossein Akbari ] All members of the Metal Workers and Mechanics Union
Abdollah Vatankhah, ]
Abol Hassan Dar ol-Shafa’ie ]
Aziz Yari ]
four other members of the Metal workers and Mechanics Union
Hossein Akbari, Abdollah Vatankhah, Abol Hassan Dar ol-Shafa’ie, and Aziz Yari, along with four other
members of the Metal workers and Mechanics Union, were arrested on 1 May, at an International Workers’
Day event held in Nematabad, south Tehran on 1 May. They are believed to be prisoners of conscience who
should be released immediately and unconditionally if held solely for peacefully exercising their rights to
freedom of expression, assembly and association.
All are held in Evin Prison and are believed to be in general sections of the prison, though some, if not all are
reported to have been held in solitary confinement in Section 240 of the prison.
The eight were part of a larger group arrested in the course of the commemorations marking International
Workers’ Day on 1 May. While others arrested were released in the days and weeks following the event, these
eight remain in Evin prison and are prisoners of conscience. They should be released immediately and without
condition.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Under Iranian labour legislation, workers are allowed to form Islamic Labour Councils (ILCs) in companies
with more than 50 workers. The ILCs’ objectives, under 2001 legislation, are mainly to “propagate and spread
Islamic culture, and defend the achievements of the Islamic Revolution”; “set up Friday prayers; recite and
pay tribute to religious slogans”; “establish meetings for sermons, religious discourse and lectures, on various
occasions”; and “endeavour to enrich the times of rest for the workers and their families”. Those permitted to
stand for leadership positions in the ILCs are vetted and approved by an official selection body. Although the
formation of independent trade union bodies remains prohibited in Iran and those who attempt to form such
bodies risk detention and prosecution, a growing awareness of workers rights has resulted in the creation of a
number of independent unions and workers’ support organizations. While some have been tolerated, members
of others have faced arrest and other acts of repression.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, English or your
own language:
- calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all eight members of the Metal workers
and Mechanics Union, if they have been arrested for taking part in peaceful events marking International
Workers’ Day, as they would prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to
freedom of expression, assembly and association in connection with their support of workers’ rights and trade
unions;
- urging the authorities to ensure that workers detained on International Workers’ Day are not tortured or
otherwise ill-treated;
- calling on the authorities to ensure that trade union activists no longer face arrest for exercising their
internationally recognized right to form and join trade unions and that peaceful gatherings of workers’ rights
activists are permitted to take place.
APPEALS TO:
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: shahroudi@dadgostary-tehran.ir (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Mohammad Jahromi
Ministry of Labour, Azadi Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: pasokhgoo@irimlsa.ir, support@irimlsa.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
http://www.leader.ir/langs/fa/index.php?p=letter (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
Email: via website: http://www.president.ir/email/
and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 22 July 2009.

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