London, 20 May – Fears have risen over the health of an Iranian political prisoner who has been on an indefinite hunger strike since April.
Mr Jafar Azimzadeh, a workers’ rights activist, went on hunger strike at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on 30 April, protesting his imprisonment and demanding a fair trial.
During his last visit from his wife, Mr Azimzadeh had to be transported via car as he was too weak to walk.
On Tuesday, 17 May, Tehran’s prosecution office demanded that he end his hunger strike; according to reports they told him that he be allowed to take long-term leave from prison.
Mr Azimzadeh told the Tehran prosecutor’s office that he had not gone on hunger strike to leave prison and that his demands were set out in a letter he had written in April.
He said: “The first step to fulfilling these demands is to halt the implementation of the [current] verdicts and re-evaluate our file rejecting the accusation of acting against national security”.
In a statement, Mr Azimzadeh explained that he and former cellmate Ismail Abdi had been fighting for workers’ rights like fairer wages, trade unions, increasing transparency from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the right to hold independent celebrations on International Workers’ Day and Teachers’ Day. They both went on hunger strike on 30 April, to protest the treatment of protesters as security issues.
Mr Azimzadeh said: “In our joint statement, that was strongly and passionately supported by the country’s teachers and workers unions as well as labour 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”.
Mr Abdi was released on a heavy bail (100,000 USD) after 11 months in prison without a proper trial, but it should not be viewed as an example of progress or meeting the pair’s demands. Mr Azimzadeh said that the release of Mr Abdi was designed to overshadow and restrict the scope of the workers’ movement.
Mr Azimzadeh said: “Therefore, with great appreciation for the support of Iran’s teachers and workers and labour and workers’ unions and organizations around the world for our demands in the joint statement with Ismail Abdi, and emphasizing on realization of all of them, I will continue my indefinite hunger strike that I began on April 30”.
For the full statement, please visit the National Council of Resistance of Iran.