#Human Rights
UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Ahmed Shaheed, IFL, AFL-CIO, State Department, White House, EU, AI

Sharokh Zamani is an Iranian labor activist who was sentenced 11 years in prison for his peaceful activism. He is being kept in the infamously horrible Rajai-Shahr prison, where he has taken a lead in staging protest hunger strikes from Ward 12, along with other prisoners, against the neglect and brutality of their jailers. The last hunger strike he took part in ended in October 2014. Earlier that year, he sent the following letter to Dr. Ahmad Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran) and Navi Pillay (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights):

Dear Mr. Ahmad Shaheed and Mrs. Navi Pillay:

Listen to my cry against injustice!

I am Shahrokh Zamani, a trade unionist living in Tehran for the past 30 years. I was arrested by armed intelligence agents when I went to Tabriz to visit my parents on June 8, 2011 without any proof or judicial order. I was subjected to psychological and physical torture while being held in solitary confinement. I was insulted and threatened with death and even rape [if I did not] confess to what the interrogator dictated. I did not answer any questions [and instead] demanded to be tried in a court in presence of my lawyer and jury. I went on hunger strike for 32 days and lost 28 kilograms of my weight.

I was tried by Judge Hamlbar in Branch Number 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Tabriz without any evidence, and sentenced to 11 years in prison. In the issued verdict, the judge himself has confessed that I have denied the charges during the investigation process; as such, he is to be held accountable for the reasoning [behind the imposition] of this heavy sentence. The verdict was confirmed by Judge Imani in Branch 6 of the Appeals Court of the East Azerbaijan Province, which is known as the Confirmation Branch. Branch 29 of the Supreme Court, which is known as the Intelligence Branch, also confirmed the sentence. Mr. Pour Faridi, who was my lawyer at the time, asked the judge of the Appeals Court to show at least one acceptable proof [that could support] the issued sentence. A judge of the Supreme Court had told my mother that there is no evidence according to which a sentence of even one day in prison could be issued.

According to Article 22 of the internal bylaws of the prisons, any military, judicial or intelligence body is expressly forbidden from interfering in the internal issues of the prisons. However, there are intelligence offices in all prisons, such as Ward 209 in Evin Prison, Ward 37 in Tabriz Central Prison, and Ward 8 of the IRGC in Rajaei Shahr Prison, which are controlling and monitoring the political prisoners on a daily basis. By the order of the intelligence officers, I was transferred to different wards in Tabriz Central Prison such as Quarantine; Ward 12, where the dangerous prisoners are kept; and Ward 15, which is known as the Methadone Ward, and is where the prisoners suffering from HIV, hepatitis and gangrene [are housed]. Then I was exiled to the Yazd Prison, and afterwards to the Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj. Finally, and despite the internal bylaws of the prisons which requires the separation of prisoners according to their crimes, I was exiled to the Ghezel Hesar Prison, where the drug-related prisoners are kept.

I was the representative of the political prisoners of Ward 12 of Rajaei Shahr Prison, trying to defend the rights of the prisoners, and complaining to the authorities about the closing of the only library of the prison, the increase in the spread of dangerous electrical noises, and the beating of prisoners. I asked the authorities to respect the prisoners’ rights in accordance with the internal bylaws of the prisons through a letter.

None of these prisons have the least legal standards, and the prisoners are deprived of their rights such as the right to nutrition; health care; education; sport; and contact with their families through telephone calls, prison visits, furloughs and letters. Further, the prisoners are subjected to systematic mental and physical torture. Despite Article 3 of the internal bylaws of the prisons, which says the aim of imprisonment is pedagogy, those chosen as the authorities of the prisons are the most violent and illiterate people, who consider the torturing of prisoners to be a key to heaven.

Dear Sirs:

As a trade unionist, I have been arrested and imprisoned illegally and have been exiled to one of the worst prisons in Iran, which is comparable to the prisons of the Middle Ages. Ghezel Hesar Prison has 10 independent wards with a [maximum] capacity of 7000 prisoners; however, there are 20,000-38,000 prisoners there. At the moment there are 21 to 22 thousand prisoners in this prison, including 3000 death row prisoners, 7000 prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, and nearly the same number sentenced to 15 years in prison. There are 10 to 20 prisoners hanged every month. Most of the issued sentences are [based on confessions extracted] under torture and in the absence of a lawyer and jury. From the time a prisoner enters the prison, he has to be naked in 3 different points in front of 2 or 3 cameras. Between 9 and 16 prisoners are kept in rooms measuring 7.5 square meters. In Ward 3, which is known as the best one, there are only 5 bathrooms which are usable only for 40 minutes to 2 hours a day for 160 to 200 prisoners.

There is no water between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on most days. There is no proper health care system. Each prisoner is taken to the clinic once a month, and the doctors there always give some pills without examining them. The food is made of soybeans intended for animal feed, and is of such poor quality that most prisoners prefer to be hungry and not eat the food. Those who want to buy food from the restaurant have to pay 17,000 Tomans for the same chicken that is sold for 6,000 Tomans outside the prison. The bad financial condition of the prisoners makes them deal drugs and cigarettes – where it is forbidden – telephone cards, calling times etc. There is no book in the prison to read. In a place called Dar-Al-Koran, the prisoners are forced to learn Arabic and memorize the Koran, and are misused as finks. The other prisoners have renamed it Dar-Al-Sheytan (the Home of the Devil), since the prisoners are humiliated there and forced to spy on the other prisoners.

Any objection [to these conditions] will result solitary confinement, cutting the hairs, being beaten, and lashes on the soles of the feet. The prisoners are thrown in the pool and then tortured with electric shocks. Mr. Shirazi, who is responsible for the Quarantine, and his entire family, including his daughters, sons, and daughter-in-law, work in the prison as well, and are used to insult the prisoners’ families, in addition to beating the prisoners.

There are lot of prisoners suffering from HIV, hepatitis and gangrene. In Ward 1, there are 6,000 prisoners, only 400 of whom are healthy while the others are suffering from HIV, gangrene and tuberculosis. Sixty-five to seventy prisoners have died during the past four months. During the first week of the Iranian New Year, four prisoners died as a result of not having been transferred to the hospital.

In Ward 4, which is known as the Workhouse Ward, there are 15 prisoners whose HIV test was positive.

This was a summary of the situation of the prison where I am being kept.

Dear Mr. Ahmad Shaheed and Mrs. Navi Pillay;

I have been on hunger strike for the past 33 days in protest of being exiled to Ghezel Hesar Prison. I have lost 20 kilograms of my weight. Despite writing 12 letters to the authorities of Ghezel Hesar Prison asking them to return me to the political ward of the Rajaei Shahr Prison, I have not received any answer yet. Considering the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are responsible for any mental and physical harm [that might come to me], I urge you to dispatch a commission of inquiry and put pressure on the Islamic Republic to fulfill their obligations according to their own laws and return me to the political ward.

I thank you for all your efforts.

Sincerely yours,

Shahrokh Zamani

April 7, 2014

We, the undersigned, demand the IMMEDIATE and UNCONDTIONAL release of Iranian labor activist Sharokh Zamani, along with the release of all prisoners of conscience languish in Iran's prisons.

We further demand that those who, like Sharokh Zamani have sustained health problems due to torture, neglect and/or other forms of mistreatment, are granted immediate access to necessary medical care.

The Free Iranian Labor Activist Sharokh Zamani, Tortured, Serving 11-Year Prison Sentence petition to UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Ahmed Shaheed, IFL, AFL-CIO, State Department, White House, EU, AI was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.