Friday 31 December 2010

Iran: Call for urgent action as jailed labour activist Behnam Ebrahim-zadeh is charged with ‘waging war against God’

In an open letter to labour and human rights organisations and people of the world (see full text below), the parents of jailed labour activist Behnam Ebrahim-zadeh raise the alarm about grave allegations by the judicial authorities in Iran against their son, which if upheld could carry the death penalty.

The parents of Behnam (Asad) were informed this week by their son’s lawyer that Behnam has been accused of association with a banned opposition group and of having committed Moharebeh, literally ‘waging war against God’. Moharebeh is the usual charge by the regime in Iran against political dissidents, whom it intends to eliminate.

Behnam (Asad) Ebrahim-zadeh is a worker employed at a polyethylene pipes manufacturing company near Tehran. He is a labour and human rights activist. He was arrested on 12 June 2010 and is being detained at Evin Prison. He was beaten up during his arrest, and as a result suffered injuries to his leg and rib cage. Behnam had a court hearing on 13 December, at which he is reported to have been accused of affiliation to an opposition organisation and of Moharebeh. He has been refused bail.

There are grave concerns over Behnam’s life and safety. If these allegations are enforced and upheld, he will face execution. Thousands of political prisoners and dissident activists have been executed in this way in Iran, the latest case being that of 62-year old Ali Saremi, a political prisoner, who was executed on 28th December for Moharebeh.

We must act swiftly to save Behnam:

  • Let us know of any actions you are organising in your area

Letter by parents of jailed worker Asad Ebrahim-zadeh, charged with ‘waging war against God’

To people and labour organisations around the world

We are the parents of jailed worker Asad (Behnam) Ebrahim-zadeh. We send you our regards, and also our greetings on the arrival of the New Year. We are grateful to you all for supporting our son, Asad, and other jailed workers. However, unfortunately this job is not yet done. Our Asad is still in prison.

Asad was arrested on 12 June 2010 and has been in jail for nearly seven months. His only crime is supporting workers’ rights, children’s rights and human rights. He was once set a bail of 100 million Toman (US$96,000), which we finally managed to secure with great difficulty. However, this was refused with the excuse that it was [based on assets] from the provinces [not the capital, Tehran]. Thus Asad was kept in prison.

In protest against his detention and his maltreatment, Asad went on hunger strike for two weeks [in late September] which resulted in a stomach bleeding. He was then transferred from Ward 209 of Evin Prison [run by the Intelligence Ministry] to General Ward 350, pending trial. He was tried on 13 December. However, we have now been informed by our son’s lawyer that Asad has been accused of working with [the banned] People’s Mujahedeen Organisation and of Moharebeh [‘waging war against God’]. This is a frame-up; these are all pure lies; Asad’s only crime is defending people’s rights. These accusations are intended to hand him a severe sentence. That’s why we are extremely worried about him; we are worried about his life. Asad must be released, along with all jailed workers.

We ask all workers and humanitarian people of the world to do all they can to help us get Asad released. Asad’s life is in danger. Help us get him released and save him.

Ayisha Modarresi (Asad’s mother)
Rahman Ebrahim-zadeh (Asad’s father)

27 December 2010

Reproduced and disseminated by Sadegh Amiri, former member of the Follow-up Committee to Form Free Workers’ Organisations

SAMPLE LETTER to send to the Islamic Republic authorities


Dear Mr …

[Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran]
[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran]
[Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran]

Re Mr Behnam (Asad) Ebrahim-zadeh, Iran

I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms at the arbitrary arrest and detention of labour and human rights activist Mr Behnam Ebrahim-zadeh.

Mr Ebrahim-zadeh was arrested on 12 June 2010, and for months his whereabouts were unknown, despite repeated, anxious enquiries by members of his family. However, when Behnam’s family finally were able to make contact with him, they learnt that he was being held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran and that during his arrest he had been badly beaten up, as a result of which he had suffered serious injuries to his rib cage and leg.

Given Mr Ebrahim-zadeh’s labour and human rights activities, it is clear that Mr Ebrahim-zadeh is being detained solely for his labour and human rights’ activities – i.e. the same reason for which trade unionists such as Mansoor Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and Reza Shahabi, and countless others before them, have been put in prison by your government.

In October, following a hunger strike in protest against his continued detention and maltreatment, Mr Ebrahim-zadeh was admitted to Evin Prison’s clinic with a bleeding stomach. He finally agreed to end his strike at the request of his family, when his condition had become critical.

Furthermore, we have now been informed by the parents of Mr Ebrahim-zadeh that following a court hearing on 13 December, Behnam is facing charges of association with an opposition organisation and of Moharebeh (‘waging war against God’), which his parents have described as pure fabrications.

Given the above, I wish to express my strongest protest against the detention of Mr Ebrahim-zadeh and my concerns about his health and safety in prison. I call on your government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Ebrahim-zadeh and all the other jailed workers, including Mansoor Osanloo, Reza Shahabi, Ebrahim Madadi and Gholamreza Gholamhosseini.

Please be assured that I and my organisation are following this case closely, and will take any necessary publicity and lobbying actions in order to secure Mr Ebrahim-zadeh’s and other jailed activists’ safe release.

Yours faithfully,

[Name, position, organisation]

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