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Labor Activist Reza Shahabi Conditionally Ends Hunger Strike

Iranian labor activist Reza Shahabi, undated

The detained treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC), Reza Shahabi has conditionally ended his hunger strike, the trade union announced on Wednesday, September 27.

Reza Shahabi had joined a hunger strike on August 9 to protest against what he called “inhumane” detention conditions in the Islamic Republic’s prisons.

The detained workers’ rights activist ended his long hunger strike after a “high security official” promised to swiftly review Shahabi and his family requests, SWTSBC reported.

Reza Shahabi has warned that if his requests are not considered in “a reasonable period of time”, he would resume hunger strike.

Hours earlier, Shahabi’s wife, Robabeh Rezaei had raised concern over her husband’s poor health condition.

Referring to Shahabi’s 51-day long hunger strike, Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA reported, “Shahabi’s grave health condition has led to a widespread concern among workers’ and social rights activists to the extent that many of them have signed a statement calling for his release”.

Meanwhile, ILNA cited Ms. Rezaei as saying, “Mr. Shahabi’s health on 50th day of his hunger strike was so deteriorated that he was taken to a hospital. I was given a chance to briefly meet him at the hospital”, Ms. Rezaei lamented, adding, “Apart from an acute back and neck pain, he was suffering from sight and hearing loss to the extent that he was not immediately able to recognize his own son who was standing few yards away”.

According to the SWTSBC, 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 international human rights organizations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), prompting them to issue statements, calling for his unconditional release.

“I am worried about my husband’s health condition and my only wish is his healthy return to our home”, Mrs. Shahabi said.

Shahabi’s health condition has been so deteriorated that according to ILNA, “The members of the High Center for Islamic Labor Councils have intervened and called upon the Labor Minster to imply all his influence to release Shahabi”.

The outcome of the request has not yet reported.

In an earlier statement the SWTSBC had insisted, Shahabi’s sole crime was trying to establish an independent syndicate where the workers can peacefully demand their rights.