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Two More Prominent Labor Rights Activists Arrested In Iran

Jafar Azimzadeh (C) secretary of the board of directors of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, with two other union leaders. File photo

Islamic Republic security forces stormed the home of the secretary of the board of directors of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, Jafar Azimzadeh, on January 29 and arrested him. Hours later, the vice president of the union, Parvin Mohammadi, was also arrested.

Security forces confiscated the personal belongings of Azimzadeh and Ms. Mohammadi, including their laptops and cell phones, during two separate raids, according to reports.

The Free Union of Iranian Workers has condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of their members.

Ten days ago Esmail Bakhshi, representative of Shush sugar factory workers and Sepideh Qolian a civil rights activist were violently taken away form their homes.

Mohammad Ali Jedari Foroughi, an attorney representing Azimzadeh, reported his client's arrest on Facebook, noting, "I managed to meet Jafar Azimzadeh for a couple of minutes, hours after his arrest."

Describing his client as "proud" and “firm,” Foroughi wrote, "Azimzadeh has been sentenced to six years for 'actions against national security' and 'propaganda against the [Islamic Republic] establishment' by Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court."

According to Foroughi, Azimzadeh had earlier been sentenced to eleven years for the same charges by another branch of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Saveh, southwest of Tehran, but was later acquitted.

"Based on the illegality of issuing two different verdicts for the same charges, we are appealing against the latest ruling,” Foroughi wrote.

Mohammadi, a former representative of workers of Iran Metal Industries, had published an open letter December 20 lambasting the Islamic Republic's establishment for conducting nightly raids on the houses of steel workers in city of Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and arresting them.

The steel factory in Ahvaz has witnessed labor strikes and protests for the past two months, with workers demanding unpaid wages. Labor unrest in Iran has intermittently flared up since December. Another major industrial complex, the sugar mill in Shush, has also seen strikes and protest.

"Gentlemen, rest assured that storming the houses of workers and arresting them will never end their protest," Ms. Mohammadi had reiterated.