The ongoing arbitrary detention of trade unionists and human rights defenders in Iran is cause for grave concern, says the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

The rights group, which is a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), reports: “Several trade unionists and human rights defenders have recently been sentenced to unjust prison terms, and others remain in arbitrary detention in Iran, often in horrendous conditions, with the only aim being to limit the legitimate exercise of their human right activities, amid the continuing repression of the Iranian civil society. “

The Observatory draws attention to the plight of Reza Shahabi, the treasurer of the Sherkat-Vahed bus drivers union, who has been detained without a trial for over 18 months. Shahabi is currently on a hunger strike he started in the past week to protest his undetermined situation in prison.

He is reportedly also in grave medical condition and needs proper medical treatment. His family, which is under severe emotional and financial stress in Shahabi’s absence, has reportedly been denied access to him for visits since November 20.

The Observatory also lists other activists, such as Ali Nejati, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi, Nima Pouryaghoub, Sassan Vahebivash and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, who have been handed prison terms for their labour activities.

The Observatory, however, notes the recent furlough given to labour activist Ebrahim Madadi as a positive move from the authorities and urges them to end any further harassment of Iranian activists and “more generally to conform to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.”