AN IRANIAN human rights group called for the immediate release of two hunger-striking trade unionists in the country yesterday.
The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (Codir) said the health of Reza Shahabi, the treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, and Esmail Abdi, the general secretary of the Tehran Teachers Trade Association, was “reaching a critical point.
“There are particular concerns regarding Mr Shahabi, who has entered the 37th day of his hunger strike … he has become completely emaciated with one side of his body now numb,” the committee said.
Mr Shahabi is on hunger strike to protest against the extension of his prison sentence by 968 days after he had completed it, supposedly to make up for time he had spent in hospital for treatment to recover from illness brought on by abuse in the jail itself.
He was jailed in 2010 for “colluding against the security services” and “spreading propaganda.”
Mr Abdi, a maths teacher, has been in jail for six years on similar charges relating to his trade union activities.
Codir assistant secretary Jamshid Ahmadi said the plight of the two trade unionists was “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.
“Without concerted action, the lives of these two men are clearly at risk.”
Global union federation IndustriALL, the TUC, Education International and the NASUWT and NEU teachers’ unions have written to the Iranian authorities in protest.