US Labor Against The War (USLAW) has sent a strongly worded letter to Iranian officials demanding the release of jailed labor activist Shahrokh Zamani, who has been on a hunger strike since March 8.
Zamani, a leader of the Painters Union of Tehran, was arrested in 2011 for helping to organize an independent trade union movement. The Iranian authorities charged him endangering national security and participating in an illegal organization.
According to the Free Shahrokh Zamani blog, Zamani while in prison has endured psychological and physical abuse, been denied medication, and kept from meeting with visitors.
In the letter from USLAW, Michael Eisenscher, USLAW’s national coordinator, objected to the mistreatment suffered by Zamani and Mohamad Jahari, a fellow prisoner who has also been on a hunger strike, and objected to the Iranian government denial of basic human rights to Zamani and Jahari.
“I write on behalf of the 150 U.S. labor organizations that are affiliated with US Labor Against the War to register our strongest objection to these violations of Shahrokh Zamani and Mohamad Jahari’s basic human rights and their mistreatment while incarcerated,” writes Eisenscher. “In the interests of justice and in recognition of the threat posed by the deteriorating condition of Mr. Zamani’s health, we call upon you to immediately release them, to expunge their criminal records, and to cease your government’s interference with their rights and internationally recognized standards for the right to organize, bargain and strike.”
Prior to his arrest, Zamani had been active in building the Follow-Up Committee to Set Up Free Labor Organizations in Iran, a coordinating committee of independent trade unions like his Painters Union.
The government found his work objectionable and arrested him for allegedly distributing propaganda against the regime.
Zamani was tortured while in custody but refused to confess to the charge.
He was found guilty is a trial that USLAW said did not meet international standards of fairness.
While in jail, Zamani continued to resist the authority of those in power.
In 2013, he and fellow prisoner Khaled Hordani went on a hunger strike to support striking workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Company.
In 2014, he was put in solitary confinement for protesting the closure of the prison’s library.
While in solitary confinement, he began his most recent hunger strike, which has now lasted for more than 30 days.
USLAW ‘s letter was one of a number of acts in solidarity with Zamani.
Before his untimely death in March, Bob Crow president of the UK;s National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT), issued a statement in solidarity with Zamani, and other leaders of the RMT have joined the movement for Zamani’s release.
“Every trade unionist in the world needs to take a stand for every trade unionist in the world who faces repression and persecution,” said Janine Booth, a former executive officer in the RMT. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”