Two Iranian journalists arrested related to coverage of labor protests in Iran, launched a hunger strike to protest their “unfair” detention. Amirhossein Mohammadifar, and his partner Sanaz Allahyari, members of the editorial board of Gaam Magazine have demanded to be released with other activists and journalists arrested in connection with protests in an industrial complex in the Southwest of Iran.
Gaam is an online student magazine distributed via a Telegram channel and its staff have been arrested on January 2019, after reporting on the protests and strikes of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers’ protests.
Sanaz Allahyari, Amirhossein Mohammadifar, Amir Amirgholi, and Asal Mohammadi are all reporters and editors for Gaam. Asal Mohammadi has been released since on bail but the other three are still in prison.
Haft Tappeh Sugarcane complex is located in the Southwest of Iran. Several workers of Haft Tappeh have been arrested following their protests against the management and state-mediated privatization of the company. The Haft Tappeh workers demanded payment of their overdue wages, health insurance, and other benefits.
Dozens of journalists, workers, and labor activists have been arrested in connection with workers’ protests in Iran in the past years.
In a letter to the judge residing on their case and the prison official, Amirhossein Mohammadifar announced his intention to go on a hunger strike, unless all those who have arrested in connection with Haft Tappeh protests are released.
Sanaz Allahyari, Amirhossein Mohammadifar, and Amir Amirgholi are awaiting trial. They have been charged with “membership in an opposition group”, “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the system” and “spreading lies with the intention of misleading the public opinion”.These journalists don’t have access to a lawyer and there are also concerns about the health and treatment of these detainees.
Sanaz Allahyari is suffering from worsening health problems in Prison. Behruz Allahyari, Sanaz’s father told Zamaneh that she has been denied adequate medical care.
Human rights groups and activists call for the release of all detainees of Haft Tappeh protests including Esmail Bakhshi who has been one of the leaders of the protests. According to the Independent Telegram Channel of Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Workers, Esmail Bakhshi has been stripped off his employment contract and salary.
The Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers plan to stage more protests to demand the continuation of the contract of Esmail Bakhshi who has been arrested, subject to forced confessions and whose family needs his pay cheque for their living expenses.
Esmail Bakhshi, one of the workers’ representatives in Haft Tappeh Independent Labor Union, served as the public face of the protests. The protests led to a wave of arrests and the Iranian government launched a major crackdown on the labor rights activists and workers. Esmail Bakhshi, Sepideh Gholian- a 23-year female labor rights activist and citizen journalist – were among those who were arrested.