Urgent Action: Labor Rights Activists At Risk of Further Torture (Iran: UA 11.19)

Iranian labor rights activists Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian, who were rearrested on 20 January after speaking out about beatings and other abuse they suffered in detention in late 2018, are at grave risk of further torture. The authorities must release them immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience jailed solely on the basis of their peaceful activism in defense of workers’ rights.



  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 11.19. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
Mr Hassan Rouhani
c/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28
1209 Geneva
Fax: +41 22 733 02 03
Email: [email protected]
H.E. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear President Rouhani,

I am writing to express grave concern for Iranian labor rights activists Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian. They were violently rearrested by ministry of intelligence officials in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, on 20 January, as apparent reprisal for speaking out about the torture they said they suffered in custody during their detention in November and December 2018. They have since been held, without access to their lawyers, in a ministry of intelligence detention center in Ahvaz and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

The activists were first arrested on 18 November 2018 after attending a peaceful protest in front of the governor’s office in Shush, Khuzestan, over the unpaid wages of workers at Haft Tappeh sugar cane company. Following their release on bail in mid-December, they revealed publicly that they had suffered torture at the hands of security police and intelligence officials, both in Shush and Ahvaz. They said they had been repeatedly beaten, slammed against a wall and shoved to the ground, humiliated with sexual insults, and threatened with flogging, sexual violence and murder.

The Iranian authorities initially responded by promising to investigate the torture allegations. However, within days, key state officials, including the head of the judiciary, the country’s chief prosecutor and the head of the president’s office, made statements claiming that the allegations of torture were false and threatened to file a complaint against Esmail Bakhshi for bringing the Islamic Republic system into disrepute.

I urge you to ensure that Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian are released immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly; pending their release, they are protected from further torture and other ill-treatment; their allegations of torture are investigated and those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials.

Yours sincerely,