UK Students Call Upon Iran to Release Labor Activists

Zamani was sentenced to 11 years in prison following his June 2011 arrest on charges of spreading propaganda and “acting against national security by establishing or being a member of groups opposed to the system.” These charges stem from his efforts to establish independent workers’ organizations.

His imprisonment prompted Zamani to a 47-day hunger strike, which concluded on April 23 when he was transferred to a wing of Gohardasht prison reserved for political prisoners.

Zamani is far from being the first Iranian political prisoner to use a hunger strike as a strategy for protesting wrongful conviction, poor prison conditions, lack of medical care, or arbitrary punishments. He is only one of many labor activists imprisoned by the regime for membership in groups that seek to defend workers’ rights.

Another such prisoner, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, was convicted in the same year as Zamani on similarly vague charges of  “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security.” These charges also were apparently based upon Ebrahimzadeh’s trade unionist activities. Ebrahimzadeh was one of dozens of victims in an April 17 raid on Ward 350 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, where a number of the regime’s political prisoners are held captive. The attack led to another hunger strike by several prisoners, aimed at calling attention to the harsh and repressive conditions in the prison.

The text of the UK student activists appeal for the release of Zamani and these various other political prisoners has been published on the website of The Guardian newspaper.