A protest assembly, calling for the release of a board member of the Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (UWTSBC), was violently suppressed on Tuesday, September 5 in front of Majlis, Iran’s parliament.
The protesters demanded immediate and unconditional release of Reza Shahabi who is currently on hunger strike, behind bars.
Shahabi went on hunger strike 28 days ago to protest his unexpected re-incarceration while he was promised to be released.
Shahabi was on medical furlough days before completing his term. Soon, he found out that the Prosecutor-General had not endorsed his furlough and decided to punish him. You have gone on an unauthorized medical furlough, Shahabi was told; “Therefore, you are condemned to stay behind bars for another 968 days”.
With no success, Shahabi tried to clarify the case by explaining that his medical furlough was approved by the Forensic Medicine Organization, FMO.
As his protests fell on deaf ears, Shahabi went on hunger strike and soon his health deteriorated to the extent that shocked UWTSBC, international human rights organizations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), prompting them to issue statements, calling for his unconditional release.
Immediately before Tuesday’s protest assembly, UWTSBC had announced that Shahabi is in critical condition and half of his body was paralyzed.
The protest assembly was called by Shahabi’s wife, Robabeh Rezaei.
One of the participants told Radio Farda that nearly 200 persons were present and, from the very beginning, the security forces, police and plainclothes agents tried to prevent the gathering.
The witness also maintained that three persons were detained by the security forces but soon were forced to release them under protesters’ pressure.
Meanwhile, the witness said, the pressure from the police and other security forces was also so high that it was impossible to take pictures of the clashes.
However, the protesters tried to continue the protest, chanting slogans, including “Student, Worker, Unite, Unite!”, “the imprisoned worker must be released”.
The protesters, while being suppressed and dispersed, warned that they were going to hold more protest gatherings.
Regardless of the row over the legality of Reza Shahabi’s medical furlough, Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Abbas Ja’fari Dolatabadi on Sunday, September 3, accused Shahabi of committing security related crimes and without any elaboration declared, “He is behind bars for his security related crimes”.
Earlier, UWTSBC had issued a statement, saying, Shahabi’s sole crime has been trying to establish an independent syndicate where the workers can peacefully demand their rights.