UK Students call for solidarity against the execution of Habibollah Latifi

From National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

We the undersigned call for the release of, and dropping of all charges against, Iranian student Habibollah Latifi. This is urgent: Latifi’s execution was scheduled for 26 December 2010; it was postponed after international protests and after 300 supporters protesting outside the prison gates, but could be rescheduled at any time.

Latifi, who was a law student at Azad University in the south western province of Ilam, in Western Iran, was arrested in October 2007 and sentenced to death in July 2008 after being convicted of moharebeh (‘enmity against God’), a vaguely defined ‘crime’ for which the penalty is death. This was in connection with alleged activities on behalf of a Kurdish liberation group (Latifi is from Iran’s oppressed Kurdish minority; according to Amnesty International, sixteen Kurdish men and two women are on death row in Iran in connection with alleged ‘separatist’ activities).

On 26 December, members of his family including his father and sister were also arrested.

We call on the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against Habibollah Latifi and release him and his family. We will continue to make solidarity with Iranian student activists, who alongside workers have been at the forefront of the struggle for human rights and democracy in Iran.

Initial signatories:
Patrick Murphy, National Union of Teachers National Executive member and Leeds NUT Secretary
Olivia Bailey, National Union of Students Women’s Officer
Barnaby Raine, School and FE Students Against the Cuts
Sean Rillo Raczka, National Union of Students National Executive Committee and Birkbeck Students’ Union Chair
Alan Bailey, NUS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Officer (Open Place)
Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT Officer (Women’s Place)
Claire Locke, London Metropolitan University SU Communications and Campaigns Officer
Louis Hartnoll, University of the Arts London SU President
Robyn Minogue, University of the Arts SU Education Officer
Wanda Canton, Queen Mary SU Women’s Officer
Katherine McMahon, Edinburgh University anti-cuts activist
Michael Chessum, NCAFC co-founder and UCL Union Education and Campaigns Officer
Daniel Lemberger Cooper, Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance and Save our services in Surrey
Bob Sutton, Merseyside Network Against Fees and Cuts
Tali Janner-Klausner, London NCAFC activist
Rowan Rheingans, Newcastle University anti-cuts activist
Jade Baker, University of Westminster SU Vice-President Education
Chris Marks, Hull University occupier

Help us to stop the Iranian state murdering Habibollah Latifi! Please add your name by emailingagainstfeesandcuts@gmail.com
We call on NUS and other student networks like the Education Activist Network to support the campaign and promote this statement.

Iranian Trade Unionist on Dry Hunger Strike, Grave Concerns for his Health

Free Reza Shahabi
Free Reza Shahabi

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today that the Iranian Judiciary must immediately release labor activist Reza Shahabi, who is currently on a dry hunger strike.

Reza Shahabi is a prisoner of conscience and member of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) who has been on a dry hunger strike since Saturday, 4 December inside Evin prison’s ward 209. Shahabi’s wife, Zohreh Rezaei, told the Campaign that Shahabi is in critical condition. Shahabi has said he will continue his hunger strike until his judicial status is clarified.

Shahabi was arrested on 12 June at his workplace. He spent 40 days in solitary confinement and so far no charges have been announced. Four years ago, Shahabi was dismissed from his job for his union activities.

In an interview with the Campaign, Rezaei expressed concern about her husband’s physical condition. “When I went to visit him today, I noticed that he can no longer walk. He didn’t have the strength to talk, either. He was in terrible shape. Many of his friends and co-workers asked me to ask him today to break his hunger strike, but he said ‘I will continue my hunger strike until my judicial status is clarified.’ He has been in detention for seven months, but his charges are still unknown,” she said.

“He has been in prison for close to seven months. They agreed to release him on bail two months ago. First they said [his bail amount was] $60,000, but then they said we had to post bail at $100,000. Though we raised the money, they have not yet released him,” said Rezaei, adding that her husband has done nothing but defend the rights of his co-workers.

Rezaei told the Campaign that despite the efforts of Shahabi’s lawyer, he has not been able to access his case file to review it.  “I just want the situation with my husband’s case to be clarified as soon as possible, so that he may return to his family. I expect that just as Reza Shahabi defended the rights of his co-workers even when he was fired, that his co-workers would now defend him and his situation and not to leave him alone,” Rezaei said.

Shahabi is the sole breadwinner of his family with his friends helping his family to sustain themselves in his seven month absence.

Currently, in addition to Reza Shahabi, two other Tehran Bus Company union activists, Mansour Ossanlou and Saeed Aboutorabian are in prison.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is seriously concerned about Reza Shahabi’s deteriorating condition and holds Iranian authorities responsible for his health.