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Iran TV Aires 'Confessions' of Activists Who Had Complained Of Torture In Prison

Esmail Bakhshi, a representative of Haft-Tapeh sugar factory workers (R), and civil activist Sepideh Qolian, undated.

Iranian state TV January 19 aired prison confessions of two labor activists and a civil activist who were arrested in November during labor protests in southwestern, oil-rich Khuzestan province.

The civil activist, Sepideh Qolian tweeted that the forced confessions broadcast are evidence of torture against the detainees.

Previously, Qolian and Esmail Bakhshi, a labor leader, had publicly complained that they were both tortured in custody. This led to days of controversy among parliamentarians and government officials.

First officials promised to investigate the matter but gradually as the first wave of public outcry died down, they began to backtrack and even talk of prosecuting Bakhshi for making the torture claim.

The TV program showed detainees confessing to belong to an emigre Marxist group, an accusation both the accused and the group have rejected as fabrication.

Iranian authorities routinely air prisoner confessions; a practice condemned by international human rights organizations.

The arrests in November took place during a long strike and protests by Haft-Tapeh sugar mill workers. The workers were demanding unpaid wages and mismanagement of their industrial complex privatized in a non-transparent manner. The activists were released in December.

Qolian tweeted that she demands a public court trial. “Now that the forced confessions are aired, I will pursue the issue of torture even more seriously than before”, she wrote.

A tweet shows scenes of the TV program showing the controversial confessions