Thursday, October 29, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Sugar Union Leaders Sentenced to Prison in Iran - Act Now!

Posted to the IUF website 26-Oct-2009

In a drive to destroy the independent union established last year by
workers at the giant Haft Tapeh plantation/refining sugar complex in
southern Iran, a court on October 12 sentenced 6 union leaders to
immediate prison terms on charges stemming from October 2007. Three
leaders convicted for their union activity last year for "endangering
national security" in connection with worker action in 2008 had their
sentences overturned on appeal in September. Two union officers, president
Ali Nejati and communications officer Reza Rakhshan, both of whom face
lengthy prison sentences, were still awaiting the outcome of their appeal
when the court in the city of Dezful sentenced the six leaders on the
similar 2007 charges.

Ghorban Alipour, Feridoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, Nejat Dehli and Ali
Nejati were all sentenced to 6 months' immediate imprisonment and 6 months
suspended sentences over 5 years; during which time they are barred from
union activity. Mohammmad Heydari Mehr received a 4 month term, 8 months
suspended. Ali Nejati must serve his suspended sentence as prison time,
meaning he faces an immediate one-year prison term. Should he lose his
appeal on the 2008 conviction, his sentence could stretch to over 2 years.

Haft Tapeh workers in recent years have repeatedly had to resort to
strikes and other actions to claim huge wage arrears and protest
deteriorating working conditions. The union was officially founded in June
2008 following a 42-day strike to demand long-standing arrears. The Haft
Tapeh union is an IUF affiliate.

Haft Tapeh president Nejati has been refused work at Haft Tapeh and
blacklisted from all work in the region since being released in April from
a month in solitary confinement in an intelligence detention center. The
other Haft Tapeh leaders sentence on October 12 have now also been turned
away from their work and instructed to report to prison.

The regime is clearly determined to crush the union by putting its entire
leadership behind bars.

The fate of imprisoned transport and teachers' union activists shows that
the Haft Tapeh prisoners risk prolonged physical and psychological abuse.
The IUF urges all defenders of democratic and trade union rights to
mobilize in their defense.

Act Now! - CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial
authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally annul the
sentences against the Haft Tapeh unionists! Please note that some messages
may bounce back - do not be discouraged! Server overload is a common
condition in Iran - some messages will get through, making the point that
the persecuted trade unionists enjoy international support. The Haft Tapeh
union leaders are also supported by Amnesty International.

You can also send a message to the Iranian embassy or diplomatic
representation in your country - or pay them a visit! A complete list of
embassies/consulates is available here, and you can generally find e-mail
addresses by searching the internet for the individual representation in
your country.

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