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Labor Activist In Iran Summoned To Prison Amid Coronavirus Threat

Iranian labors rights activist, Nahid Khaodajoo. FILE PHOTO

The Free Trade Union of Workers in Iran has reported that a member of its board of directors, Ms. Nahid Khodajo, was summoned to Tehran's Evin Prison, to serve her sentence amid the coronavirus crisis.

Deploring the decision, the April 16 statement says the Evin Court of Appeals has given Ms. Khodajoo five days to surrender herself to the prison and serve six years behind bars. "The judge has disregarded the fact that the deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus has created an extremely life-threatening situation at prisons across the country", the statement noted.

A retired worker and a member of the board of directors of the Free Trade Union of Iran, Khodajoo, was arrested in front of Majlis (Iranian parliament) on International Workers' Day last year and released on bail after 33 days in detention. She was later sentenced to six years in prison, and 74 lashes by an Islamic Revolutionary Court.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at the time, "Radio Farda reported on May 1 that the authorities had arrested more than 35 people in a demonstration in front of Iran’s parliament that was organized by twenty independent local labor rights organizations. While the authorities released several of those detained, including Reza Shahabi, a prominent labor activist, security forces continue to detain others in Evin prison."

Based on the Free Trade Union's Thursday statement, the appeals court held a session without Ms. Khodajoo and her lawyer's presence, and the verdict was not even sent to Ms. Khodajou.

"The court verbally informed Ms. Khodajoo's legal counsel that her primary court verdict, six-year prison sentence, and 74 lashes, had been upheld", the statement said.

In recent days, the statement has disclosed, the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence have phoned "a significant number" of members of the Free Trade Union and threatened them while demanding an explanation about their involvement in celebrating last year's International Labor Day.