Published: 21/01/2010

Reza Rakhshan, communications officer for the Haft Tapeh independent sugarworkers union in southern Iran, was arrested by security agents at his workplace on January 4 and was only released from Shush prison on January 20 after being charged with “endangering national security” for his union activity.

At the time of his arrest, Rakhshan was still awaiting final sentencing for the convictions last year on similar charges which put 5 other union leaders in prison. Like union president Ali Nejati, the new charges mean he could face lengthy back-to-back sentences which could see him imprisoned for years. Married, with a child, the 39-year old union officer has worked at Haft Tapeh for 5 years.

Rakhshan’s arrest shows that the regime is determined to eliminate the Haft Tapeh union, whose very existence challenges the foundations of autocratic rule in Iran. The fate of imprisoned transport and teachers’ union activists shows that the Haft Tapeh prisoners risk prolonged physical and psychological abuse. The IUF urges all defenders of democratic and trade union rights to mobilize in their defense.

Act Now! – CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Reza Rakhshan and to annul the sentences of the other 5 imprisoned Haft Tapeh leaders. Please note that some messages may bounce back – do not be discouraged! Server overload is a common condition in Iran, and the authorities sometimes turn off their e-mail to tune out public opinion – but some messages will get through, making the point that the persecuted trade unionists enjoy international support.

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.