On 5 January 2012, a well-known and respected labor activist and executive board member of the Iranian Workers’ Free Union, Mozaffar Saleh Nia, approached the Islamic regimes authorities in Sanandaj to lodge a complaint about the fact that no social services were being provided to people who, due to extreme poverty, had resorted to living on the street, with nothing more than cardboard boxes for shelter. As a result, he was arrested.
Just 3 days later, on 8 January 2012, another labor activist and member of the executive board of the Iranian Workers’ Free Union, Sharif Saed Panah, was arrested.
These outrageous arrests of respected labor and rights activists resulted in massive protests by families, friends and honorable people of Sanandaj. Nevertheless, the Iranian Workers’ Free Union news site reported on 16 January 2012 that Shith Amani, yet another well-known and respected labour movement leader, was arrested after lodging a complaint on behalf of the families of the arrested labor activists and the union members as well as all honorable people of Sanandaj.
As response to these criminal arrests of labor and rights activists in Kurdistan and other cities across Iran in recent weeks, in a courageous move, workers throughout Sanandaj began to circulate and sign their names openly a petition demanding the release of arrested workers, who were detained without charge.
The pressure worked to an extent: Mozaffar Saleh Nia and Sharif Saed Panah were released from prison on 19 January because the judge did not attend the court – but rather than being released unconditionally, they are out on bail pending trial. Worker activist Shith Amani is still in prison.
Mission Free Iran applauds the workers of Sanandaj who have stood up in support of their fellow workers. In support of their just demands, we have sent a second request to the International Labor Organization to continue to advocate for the immediate and unconditional release of Stith Amani, and the dropping of all charges against Saleh Nia and Saed Panah. We encourage others to do the same; a model letter and email addresses for the ILO appear below.
Sample Letter to the International Labour Organization to Request Their Advocacy for the Release of Sharif Saed Panah, Mozzafar Saleh Nia and Shith Amani:
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing with regard to the cases of Sharif Saed Panah, Mozzafar Saleh Nia and Shith Amani, three leading Iranian worker activists who have been arbitrarily detained in recent days by the authorities in Sanandaj, Iran, for demanding that social services be provided to people who have resorted to living on the street due to increasing poverty in the country.
These three labor activists have been illegally, arbitrarily detained. Under pressure from worker activists in Sanandaj and throughout the region, Saed Panah and Saleh Nia have been conditionally released: on bail, and pending trial – despite lack of any charges being brought against them. Shith Amani remains detained without charge and subject to additional mistreatment, abuse, and possibly torture.
I request that the International Labor Organization urgently advocate for the immediate and unconditional release of Shith Amani and the dropping of all proceedings and false charges against Saed Panah and Saleh Nia. The ILO must exert continuous pressure on the Islamic Republic until all other labor activists who are currently arbitrarily detained by the anti-worker regime in Iran are released, including Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Rasoul Bodaghi, Reza Shahabi, and Mohammad Hoseini, among many others.