Concerns mounted today over the fate of jailed Iranian transport trade unionist Reza Shahabi following nearly three weeks on hunger strike.
The Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Vahed) union treasurer began his protest on December 17 two days after the latest health scare since being locked up in Evin jail's notorious Ward 350 for "political" prisoners. Guards took Mr Shahabi to hospital but refused to let doctors perform an MRI scan.
Instead they dragged him back to his cell.
His wife Robabeh Rezaei has said that he will not end his protest until he is allowed to access proper medical care.
It is the second time in four months that Mr Shahabi has required treatment.
He was raced to hospital in August for surgery to his neck and spine - injuries which his wife said were the result of severe beatings during interrogation.
Doctors advised that he needed at least "two months' rest at home" following the critical operation, saying that he was "incapable of withstanding any further punishment."
Instead he was hauled back to Ward 350.
Vahed members have mounted protests in recent months over unpaid wages, unequal treatment and to demand the dismissal of the Tehran Bus Company managing director.
But Mr Shahabi, who was sacked by the bus firm in 2006, and other trade unionists have paid a high price for their efforts, facing jail and intimidation. Mr Shahabi has been locked up since June 2010.
An April 14 ruling confirmed that he would serve a six-year term on charges of "propaganda against the regime" and "assembly and collusion against national security."
Iran solidarity activists are urging trade unionists worldwide to join the campaign against the Islamic regime's repression of workers.
Codir assistant general secretary Jamshid Ahmadi said: "The Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company has more than 17,000 employees, of which a significant number are members of the trade union.
"All executive board members of this union have been persecuted, dismissed and many jailed since the formation of the union in 2005.
"This systematic intimidation of workers must be highlighted and stopped."
International Transport Workers Federation general secretary David Cockroft said: "Reza Shahabi must be immediately released and promptly treated. The ITF strongly condemns his unjust arrest and sentencing and calls for all persecution of labour activists in Iran to cease."
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
George Osborne's advice from the International Monetary Fund is like the curate's egg - good in parts.
The government wants to ramp up Western involvement in the Syrian conflict but the cost will be more violence and instability in the region
PCS general secretary urges the trade union movement to step up the fight against the Tory cuts