2 October 2020
Detentions of militant activists
Djafar AZIMZADEH, a trade-unionist and secretary of the board of the “Free Union of Iranian Workers” has been convicted on several occasions for his union activities. In 2016 while in prison, he went on hunger strikes, lasting 62 days, which nearly cost him his life.
Azimzadeh serving his six-year sentence in Prison that he was informed, on March 18, 2020, of his release. But the security service of the “Revolutionary Guards” decided, without any explication, to transfer him to Redjaei Shahr prison, located in city of Karadj, situated west of Tehran and held in solidarity confinement. His health being deteriorated due to his numerous hunger strikes, he has contracted the corona virus while in Prison. Once again he went on a hunger strike, this time without being allowed to contact his family. At the word of the prison authorities to transfer him from solitary confinement to another prison, he decides to stop the hunger strike.
Like Esmail ABDI and Mohammad HABIBI, teachers, as well as other political prisoners, he is being held in extremely harsh conditions.
On September 25, three members of the Iran’s Writers Association (IWA) – Baktash ABTIN, Reza KHANDAN and Keyvan BAJAN – were sentenced and imprisoned (5 and 3 years). They are all accused for their cultural activities inside the association, as well as the organization of a ceremony in tribute to the Iranian poet Ahmad SHAMLOU, who died in 2000.
Nasrin SOTOUDEH, a lawyer and human rights defender, sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for defending a young Iranian woman opposed to wearing the veil. She began a hunger strike on August 11, 2020, protesting against the prison conditions. On September 19, suffering from a significant decline in her health, on her 21st day of the hunger strike, she was transferred to intensive care ward in a hospital in Tehran. On September 24, 2020, despite her poor state of health, she was taken back to the Evin prison.
Prison conditions and COVID-19
The conditions in Iranian prisons, well known to be overcrowded, unsanitary, and preventing detainees from accessing health care, are fertile ground for COVID. A shattering report released in July 2020 by Amnesty International reveals that the Iranian government is deliberately ignoring the COVID-19 crisis inside prisons. Since the prisons are not equipped to deal with this epidemic, they neither could protect the detainees nor able to treat the infected ones.
We demand the unconditional release of Nasrin SOTOUDEH, Djafar AZIMZADEH, Esmail ABDI, Mohammad HABIBI and all the jailed trade-unionists, labour and human rights activists and writers.
We call on the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take the necessary measures to protect all those detainees from COVID-19, and allow them to access healthcare.