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LATEST UPDATE! Iran Sugarworkers Union Leaders Sentenced to Prison - Act Now! Posted to the IUF website 14-Apr-2009 Share this article.
Ali Nejati and 4 other Haft Tapeh leaders condemned to one year in prison
One Year's Prison Terms for Haft Tapeh Leaders
On April 14, sentencing was pronounced against the leaders of the Haft Tapeh union. Ali Nejati, Feridoun Nikoufard, Ghorban Alipour, Jalil Ahmadi each received sentences of one year's immediate imprisonment plus 6 months suspended sentence. Mohammed Heydari Mehr was sentenced to one year immediate imprisonment and a five year suspended sentence. All five were banned from all union activity for a period of three years.
Act Now! - CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally annul the sentences against the Haft Tapeh unionists!
You can also send a message to the Iranian embassy or diplomatic representation in your country - or pay them a visit! A complete list of embassies/consulates is available here, and you can generally find e-mail addresses by searching the internet for the individual representation in your country.
It has now been confirmed that Haft Tapeh Union President Ali Nejati has been released from over a month in solitary confinement in the notorious Intelligence Detention Center in the southern city of Ahwaz. His wife was able to visit him briefly for the first time only on April 6. He was in fact being detained and interrogated on charges for which he was already tried in February - a procedure which is illegal. Like the other Haft Tapeh defendants, ali Nejati has not been informed of the results of the sentencing.
The Ahwaz Intelligence Detention Center, which has become notorious for its harsh regime, originally belonged to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and was handed over to the Ministry of Intelligence in 1988- Most of the cells are intended for solitary confinement and there are typically over 30 individuals held at a time. Inmates have no exposure to sunlight, no open air recreation, limited access to the unhygenic bathrooms, no access to medical services. Inmates under interrogation are subject to sleep deprivation and extreme physical abuse.
On April 7, Haft Tapeh workers stopped work for three hours to protest Ali Nejati's arrest and detention, and the non-payment of wages over the past 2 months.
The UK chapter of Amnesty International had adopted Ali Nejati as a prisoner of conscience "detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association."
The run up to May 1 in Iran is often a period of intensified repression, as the authorities seek to pre-empt any independent labour activism and/or May Day demonstrations.
The March 8 arrest of the Haft Tapeh sugar workers' union President Ali Nejati marks a further escalation in government repression against the independent union . Nejati is one of the 5 union leaders who were arrested in December 2008 and charged with "endangering national security" and "anti-government propaganda". They still await sentencing from the trial which ended on February 17, Haft Tapeh Executive Board member Rahim Beshag and 6 other union officers were arrested and detained between February 22 and March 3, 2009, but all were subsequently released on bail by March 7. Four of them were tried with Ali Nejati on February 17 and 23, on similar charges.
Nejati's home was raided by Ministry of Intelligence Officers on February 28 and union materials confiscated. Since his arrest, family members have not been able to contact or visit him and his whereabouts are unknown.
The government stepped up its attacks on the union following a low turnout for the February 24 election to the Haft Tapeh "Islamic Labour Council" ordered by the Ministry of labour. Independent unions are proscribed in Iran, and defending workers' employment conditions does not fall within the remit of the Islamic Labour Councils, whose tasks are defined in Iranian law as essentially religious in addition to "defending the achievements of the Islamic Revolution."
Escalating repression against the Haft Tapeh workers has been accompanied by reports of new harassment against other independent trade union and labour rights activists, presumably to create a climate of fear in advance of May Day and the presidential elections scheduled for June 12. International pressure is urgently needed to press the government to free all the Haft Tapeh leaders. CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Ali Nejati and the other Haft Tapeh union leaders.