Jafar Azimzadeh, an Iranian political prisoner and workers’ rights activist who has been on an indefinite hunger strike since the end of April has managed to send a statement out of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. His statement comments on the release on bail of fellow political prisoner Ismail Abdi, Secretary General of Iran’s Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA).
In the statement he said that his friend, and “resistant cellmate” was released on bail for 3 billion Rials or approximately $100,000 after spending nearly a year in prison “without a judicial verdict and solely based on the will of the security apparatus”.
Mr. Azimzadeh said that even though the release of Abdi is great, it does not make up for the fact that not “even a small step was being taken to realize our demands and the demands of millions of teachers and workers”.
He said: “In our joint statement that was strongly and passionately supported by the country’s teachers and workers unions as well as labor and teachers’ organizations across the world, we demanded an end to treating social and civil protests as security issues and removing the charge of ‘associating and colluding with intent to act against national security’ from the open files of protesting workers and teachers and imprisoned union activists, including ourselves.”
He reminded that they protested against wages that are below the poverty line, against the ban on celebrating International Workers’ Day and Teachers’ Day and against the ban on forming independent trade unions. He also highlighted that they protested the “lack of transparency and effective action by the International Labor Organization (ILO) against flagrant violation of the essential rights of Iranian workers and teachers”.
He added: “Accordingly, as far as it concerns Ismail Abdi’s release through a heavy bail and an open case with heavy security charges, such an act from the legal authority dealing with his case even within the framework of existing law-breaking actions, was routine and, in Ismail’s case, predictable.”
Therefore, he explains, no one can claim that this release was to meet their demands. He believes the release was intended to “overshadow and limit the scope of the ever increasing (labor and teachers) movement that has centered around ending the treatment of protests by teachers and workers as security issues and protesting heavy security charges against trade activists around the country and around the globe”.
He ends the statement by saying that his hunger strike is therefore going to continue indefinitely.
The statement can be read in full on the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) website.