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.

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