Call for the immediate release of Leila Hosseinzadeh and Hirad Pirbodaghi

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The systemic oppression and persecution of worker activists and supporters of the Iranian labour movement continue. Leila Hosseinzadeh is a well-known social anthropology student and researcher at the University of Tehran and a supporter of the labour movement. According to the news published, including on the Telegram channel of the "Student Union Councils", Leila Hosseinzadeh was arrested on the Tuesday, December 7, 2021, coinciding with Student Day in Iran, while traveling in Shiraz.

According to her relatives, she is held at a detention centre at the Ministry of Intelligence. She was reportedly beaten by a number of security agents at the time of being arrested. This was only two days after the confirmation of her sentence of five years in prison, and the case had not yet been referred to the branch in charge of the execution of the sentences. Her lawyer reported that the sentence for five years in prison was for Leila attending the gathering organized by students held in front of Sharif University of Technology to congratulate the birthday and commemorate Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, another prisoner of conscious in Iran.

Leila Hosseinzadeh was first arrested along with a number of other students during a nationwide protest in January 2017, and was released on bail after 16 days in detention. She was then sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on March 7, 2018 to five years in prison on trumped-up charges of "conspiracy against national security" and to one year in prison on charges of "propaganda against the regime”. She was sentenced to 2 years "ban on leaving the country". This sentence was reduced to 3 and a half years imprisonment by Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals on June 24, 2019, as well as a supplementary sentence of 2 years ban on leaving the country. However, according to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, she was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Leila Hosseinzadeh was arrested by security agents at her home on July 28, 2019, and after ten days in one of the IRGC's “safe houses”, she was transferred to the women's ward of Evin Prison to serve 2 years and 6 months in prison. Leila Hosseinzadeh was granted furlough in March 2020 and was later released by a decree of the Judiciary.

During her imprisonment, Leila Hosseinzadeh contracted an acute autoimmune disease that can only be controlled by taking high doses medication, which is why she was unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Leila Hosseinzadeh's health is in serious danger due to her violent arrest by security agents and the dire situation of Iranian prisons and the mistreatment of political prisoners.

Hirad Pirbodaghi, a labour and social activist, was arrested on November 6, 2021, along with Asal Mohammadi, by security forces, after a search of his home, He has been transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence. His mother, Setareh Jalali, posted a video on social media expressing concern about Hirad's conditions, raising concerns about not being allowed to meet with the judge to inform him of his son's condition, and urging people to be his son’s voice for his freedom. Despite the daily follow-up of Hirad Pirbdoghi's family, their concerns have not been answered. There are reports that Hirad might be facing tortures and harsh treatment by his interrogators. His mother has been protesting daily in front of Evin Prison to oppose his continued detention.

Hirad Pirbodaghi was first arrested in August 2019 during a protest rally of the families of the arrested workers in the Haft Tapeh sugarcane complex, in front of the Revolutionary Court building, and was imprisoned on charges of "disturbing public order." He was released in October of that year on 400 million Toman bail. He was then sentenced to 6 months in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on February 22, 2020, on charges of "conspiracy and collusion against national security." Prior to his latest arrest, Hirad had also been arrested by police on Saturday, May 15, 2021 when he went to the security police to retrieve his confiscated equipment during the International Workers’ Day demonstration.
Asal Mohammadi, a social activist and a workers’ rights’ defender, had previously been arrested and imprisoned for her support of workers’ movement. On November 5, 2021. Asal, along with Hirad Pirbodaghi and seven other social activists appeared in the judiciary to file a complaint against the detention of arrestees in solitary confinement. She was then arrested on November 6, 2021 along with Hirad Pirbdoghi. Asal Mohammadi has temporarily been released from prison on bail.

Parvin Mohammadi is a labour activist and a member of the “Free Union of Workers Iran”, which is a workers’ rights’ organization. She has been arrested several times and kept in solitary confinement for a month. Recently, the government authorities issued a statement asking her to introduce herself to the execution branch within 5 days in order to serve the one-year prison sentence that they claim was issued for her in 2017. According to Parvin Mohammadi, no charges were filed against her at any court in her presence that year, and she was unaware of such verdict. Such sentencing is not uncommon in Iran, however, even by the state’s own laws, they should only be done when authorities do not have access to the accused. In a video released against this communiqué, Parvin Mohammadi says government officials have known her whereabouts and phone number over the years; therefore, the only reason for issuing this notice is the will of government officials to arrest and imprison her which is in a contrast to their own legal formalities.

In Iran, workers do not have the right to form their own independent workers’ organizations, and any attempt to do so is met with harsh government persecutions, arrest, torture and imprisonment of labour activists. Despite heavy oppressions, the wave of strikes and labour protests is ongoing in different parts of the country. In this struggle, the Iranian workers are not alone. They have the significant support and empathy of the disadvantaged sections of our society, and especially the support of the student movement. This well-known slogan of the students’ movement, "We are the children of the workers, we will stand by them” is a presentation of the unity and solidarity between the workers’ and students’ movements in Iran.

Workers' activists and independent workers’ organizations in Iran rightly consider the repression and persecution of workers' rights’ defenders as an integral part of the same systematic and widespread repression by the capitalist and anti-worker regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has imposed unbearable poverty and misery on the Iranian working class.

We call on trade unions, the working class forces, the progressive movements and the human rights organizations to protest against this latest wave of repression against labour activists and their supporters in Iran, demanding an end to the arrests, torture and imprisonments.

All labour activists and political prisoners must be released immediately

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
Translated from the original statement in Farsi on December 11, 2021
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