Accessibility links

Breaking News

Lawyers Demand Open Trial For Two Iran Activists Jailed Since January

Esmail Bakhshi, a representative on Haft Tapeh Factory workers (R), and civil activist Sepideh Qolian, undated.

The attorneys defending imprisoned labor activists, Ms. Sepideh Qolyan and Esmaeil Bakhshi have called for a public trial of their clients.

Bakhshi is the spokesman for the independent trade union of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane industrial complex, which has seen repeated strikes and protests in recent years, with workers demanding back pay and better conditions.

Qolyan is a labor rights activist and journalist. Both were first arrested November 18, 2018, during protests at the complex along with more than a dozen other activists and workers.

Bakhshi and Qolyan were released December 12, 2019, after eighty international labor organizations signed a letter addressed to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the release of all peacefully protesting workers.

After alleging abusive treatment while in detention, the two were arrested again January 20.

Qolyan and Bakhshi lawyers say that their clients are set to be tried on August 3.

Most security related or political trials in Iran are held behind closed doors, where independent observers and media are not allowed. Such trials are are also devoid of due process.

Meanwhile, a member of the Haft Tapeh Workers Independent Syndicate, Ali Nejati, is also scheduled to go on trial, along with four journalists working for a pro-labor rights web magazine, Gam (Step).

The journalists, Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, his wife, Sanaz Allahyari, Amir Amirqoli, and Assal Mohammadi are charged with security-related crimes.

Activist and freelance journalist Sepideh Qoliyan is currently on hunger strike. She lost consciousness in her cell on July 27, 2019, and was rushed to the clinic in Qarchak Prison, south of Tehran, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reports.

“Sepideh fainted in prison when her blood pressure dropped on the fourth day of her hunger strike and [her cellmate] took her to the prison clinic where she was injected with a serum and then returned to her cell in a wheelchair,” an informed source told CHRI on July 28 on condition of anonymity.

On July 29, Qoliyan’s brother provided the latest update on her condition via a post on his Instagram account:

"Today, on the seventh day of my sister’s hunger strike, my parents went to Qarchak Prison to see her. At first, Sepideh, in protest against her situation, didn’t want the visit to take place. Eventually, she agreed when the prison head allowed my parents to see her in his office. My father says Sepideh is very weak and fragile and cannot walk. They brought her to the meeting in a wheelchair. It was the most difficult day of my father’s life to see his daughter under such circumstances. My parents insisted she end her hunger strike but she refused and told them she shall continue at least until her scheduled trial date [August 3]. During the visit, Sepideh only accepted to drink a cup of water with sugar because of my parents crying and worries."

Qolyan’s brother, Mehdi, will also be tried at Branch 101 of the revolutionary court in the city of Dezful on August 18, 2019, on charges of "assaulting law enforcement agents" and "disobeying orders from judicial representatives" in connection with a raid on his family home on January 20, 2019.