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ITUC tells Iran to stop pursuing labor man.

The Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has written Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi calling for an end to the pursuit of Reza Shahabi, a prominent labor activist who has refused to comply with a summons to return to prison.

"A return to detention of Reza Shahabi, unjustly convicted for his trade union activity, would be only a further violation of international conventions and a violation of human rights," said the organization in a letter dated February 13.

"We hereby express the ITUC's serious concerns on behalf of our 181 million members in 162 countries about the renewed attempt by the Iranian judiciary and intelligence authorities to force Reza Shahabi back to prison," said the letter, posted on the Tehran Bus Workers Union website.

The ITUC is the world's largest grouping of labor unions.

Shahabi, 44, a member of the governing board of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was arrested in June 2010 for his activism and sentenced to six years in prison for "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security" by the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

After several hunger strikes in Rajai Shahr Prison and Evin Prison, he was released on September 23, 2014, on medical furlough after posting a 2-billion-rial ($53,000) security deposit.

"If Reza Shahabi does not return to prison, the prosecutor's office will seize his deposit," an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI).

Shahabi was summoned back to prison last October. An informed source told ICHRI, "The prosecutor's office contacted Shahabi's wife and said he has three more months left to serve of his sentence. However, counting his time on furlough, he has finished his prison term."

According to the bus union's website, Shahabi joined the organization in 2004 and was elected to its governing board in June 2005. A few months later he was fired for participating in a strike. Until his arrest in 2010, he continued his activism while striving to get his job back.

Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which mandates in Articles 21 and 22 freedom of association and guarantees the right to form trade unions, and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees in Article 8 the right of workers to form or join trade unions and protects the right of workers to strike.

The Iranian Constitution also contains provisions for such rights. Article 26 guarantees the right to form "parties, societies, political or professional associations," and Article 27 states, "Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam."

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Apr 21, 2017
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