Judge Refuses to Release Imprisoned Labor Activist Who Completed His Sentence
(21 March 2008) Iranian Judiciary officials are refusing to free Mahmoud Salehi, an imprisoned union leader, who is due to complete his sentence on March 23, 2008. A prosecutor has brought new charges against Salehi relating to letters he published while in prison months ago.
“This is an overt attempt to pretend it is legal to keep an innocent man behind the bars. There is no justification for new charges,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.
Salehi’s lawyer, Mohammad Sharif, said that the new charges are based on letters of thanks Salehi wrote in response to expressions of solidarity he received while in prison. On Monday, March 17, the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj issued a detention order, extending Salehi’s confinement by two more months.
In protest to the officials’ refusal to release him, Salehi is reportedly on a hunger strike. He is gravely ill and suffers from kidney failure; he has only one kidney. The Campaign is seriously concerned for his health and safety. It urged the Iranian Judiciary to immediately release Salehi as he has finished his sentence.
“We hope the Judiciary will respect its own judgments and release him at the end of his sentence. Keeping Salehi in prison by any means necessary is cruel and inhumane. According to international law, the Judiciary is entirely responsible for his health and safety,” the Campaign said.
Salehi’s wife, Najibeh Salehzadeh, and his son, Samrand Salehi, are reportedly in danger of imminent arrest because of their public advocacy on his behalf. The security forces have recently arrested family members of prisoners of conscience in several cases to intimidate and silence them.
Another labor-union leader, Mansour Osanloo, is serving a five year prison sentence. The authorities are refusing to grant him medical leave for treatment of injuries he suffered in his left eye, due to severe beatings by agents who arrested him.
According to recently released prisoners, labor activist Bakhtiar Rahimi is also being held in Evin prison. Rahimi is a member of the Coordination Committee for Establishment of Trade Unions in the city of Marivan in Kurdistan. He actively promoted workers’ rights and participated in related public events. Security agents detained him on July 19, 2007 in Marivan. The officials have provided no information about the charges against him. His detention remains under a cloud of ambiguity. The released prisoners reported that he is held in ward 209 of Evin prison and is charged with “acting against national security” and “connections with illegal organizations.” The Campaign called on the Iranian Judiciary to immediately clarify Rahimi’s situation. He has had no contacts with his family or lawyers. His associates expressed serious concerns about his health and safety.
“The Iranian government is harshly prosecuting labor leaders. Instead, it should share their concern for the economic well-being and legitimate rights of workers in Iran,” the Campaign said.