Agents Interrupt Labor Activist’s Dialysis Treatment to Transport Him to Prison
Labor activist Mahmoud Salehi was detained by security agents on October 28, 2017, while undergoing dialysis at a hospital in the city of Saqqez, in Iran’s Kurdistan Province.
His son, Samerand Salehi, informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that his father, who has no kidneys, was detained without receiving a summons to begin serving a one-year prison sentence issued by the Appeals Court in February 2017 for “propaganda against the state.”
“You can imagine what state my father is in because he was taken from the hospital straight to prison,” said Samerand Salehi on October 28. “We are very worried for him because he needs his pills and has to get special treatment in the hospital twice a week, including dialysis.”
“He lost his kidneys the last time he was detained,” he added. “Now we’re worried about his life.”
In September 2015, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced Salehi to nine years in prison for “propaganda against the state” and “creating an opposition group.”
A 45-year-old baker based in Saqqez, Mahmoud Salehi is one of the founders of the Labor Unions Coordination Committee, and has been arrested numerous times for his peaceful pro-labor activities, his son told CHRI.
Agents of the Intelligence Ministry last arrested the activist in April 2015 ahead of International Labor Day, May 1, in Sanandaj. A month later he was hospitalized for serious urinary complications and eventually both of his kidneys were removed.
After his release from detention on medical grounds in November 2015, Mahmoud Salehi wrote an open letter to the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran to protest the loss of his kidneys.
“I was arrested on April 28, 2015, by plainclothes Intelligence Ministry agents in my home without committing any act against the Constitution,” wrote Salehi.
“After my arrest and transfer to solitary confinement in prison in Saqqez, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s notorious detention center [in Sanandaj] along with [labor activist] Osman Esmaili, who was arrested the same day,” he said. “I lost both of my kidneys there because the prison authorities cut off my medications. Now I receive dialysis treatment every Saturday and Tuesday at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Saqqez.”
The trade unionist continued: “I declare to all freedom-seeking people and international organizations that I am prepared to face any judicial authority in front of a jury in an open court to show my people and the whole world that workers are being suppressed for no crime other than seeking to organize independent unions.”
In July and August 2016, the activist’s wife, Najibeh Salehzadeh, was also tried at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Saqqez for allegedly posting “insulting” material on Facebook. A verdict has not been issued.
Labor activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.