08/02/2019

Urgent Action Update: Hunger-Striking Labor Rights Activist at Risk (Iran: UA 11.19)


Labor rights activist Sepideh Gholian has been on hunger strike since 23 July 2019 in protest at the ill-treatment of her family and dire conditions in Shahr-e Rey prison near Tehran. Her health has deteriorated sharply, leaving her too weak to walk. The trial of Sepideh Gholian and another labor rights activist, Esmail Bakhshi, has been scheduled for 3 August. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.

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Prosecutor General of Tehran Ali Alghasi Mehr
Shahr-e Rey prison
Tehran-Varamin Highway, Gharchak, Iran
H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi
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 Mr Alghasi Mehr,

Labor rights activist Sepideh Gholian has been on hunger strike since 23 July 2019 in protest at the ill-treatment of her family by prison officials as well as dire conditions in Shahr-e Rey prison, where she is held. She is experiencing dizziness, serious blood pressure drops and extreme weakness, leaving her too weak to walk. On 26 July, she was transferred to the prison medical clinic after she lost consciousness. She subsequently said that the prison nurse had verbally abused her and that she would no longer go to the clinic. The authorities have asked her to sign a note stating that she is rejecting medical care voluntarily.

On 23 July, Sepideh Gholian’s family drove for 13 hours from Khuzestan province in southern Iran to Tehran to visit her after a month without seeing her. At the prison, prison officials yelled at her parents, insulted them and subjected them to searches that they deemed excessive. Later in the visitation room, the officials also yelled at Sepideh Gholian in front of her family saying that she had not covered her hair and body properly. The tension escalated after she objected to the abuse. In response, the officials ended the visit, just five minutes after it had started, forcibly taking Sepideh Gholian away and leaving her parents shaking and in tears. In a letter dated 24 July, she wrote that her hunger strike is also in protest at the “horrific” conditions of Shahr-e Rey prison. The trial of Sepideh Gholian and fellow labor rights activist Esmail Bakhshi is due to take place before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 3 August. They are facing spurious national security charges, stemming directly from their participation in peaceful protests by workers over unpaid wages at Haft Tappeh sugar cane company in Khuzestan province and their outspoken statements that they were tortured after their first arrest in November 2018.

I urge you to release Sepideh Gholian and Esmail Bakhshi immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Pending their release, please ensure that they can receive regular visits from their families and lawyers, and that Sepideh Gholian receives adequate health care, in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy and informed consent. Please also take immediate steps to improve conditions at Shahr-e Rey prison based on international law and standards and allow international monitors to conduct inspection visits.

Yours sincerely,

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