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Attack against a group of detained human rights defenders

Status: 
Attacked
About the situation

On 8 October 2021, a group of detained human rights defenders including Shapour Ehsanirad and Esmail Gerami received death threats and were physically assaulted by four other prisoners from section 3, type 2 in the Great Tehran Penitentiary. Following the attack, the human rights defenders were transferred to a different section of the same prison ward, where they are being subjected to inadequate and unsanitary conditions.

About the HRD

Shapour Eshapour_ehsanirad hsanirad is a former representative of the Profil Factory of Saveh, a founding member of the Social Security’s Retired Workers Council, and a member of the board of directors of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Iran. The human rights defender is active in defending labour rights and the improvement of working conditions.

14 October 2021
Attack against a group of detained human rights defenders

On 8 October 2021, a group of detained human rights defenders including Shapour Ehsanirad and Esmail Gerami received death threats and were physically assaulted by four other prisoners from section 3, type 2 in the Great Tehran Penitentiary. Following the attack, the human rights defenders were transferred to a different section of the same prison ward, where they are being subjected to inadequate and unsanitary conditions.

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Esmail Gerami, is human rights defender and retired worker from Iran Carton Company, who has been advocating for the rights of retired people through organising assemblies and associations since 2017. In 2020, he started a Telegram channel called “Independent Association of Social Security Workers” in 2020 where he posted news on the peaceful assemblies of retired people and tried to raise awareness about their rights.

Shapour Ehsanirad is a former representative of the Profil Factory of Saveh, a founding member of the Social Security’s Retired Workers Council, and a member of the board of directors of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Iran. The human rights defender is active in defending labour rights and the improvement of working conditions.

On 8 October 2021, a group of detained human rights defenders including Shapour Ehsanirad and Esmail Gerami were physical assaulted and received death threats in Great Tehran Penitentiary. Four other prisoners from section 3, type 2 in the Great Tehran Penitentiary attacked the human rights defenders with various objects including knives and other kitchen utensils causing them to sustain slight injuries. The human rights defenders held in the ward had complained about the conditions and asked the prison officials to relocate them to different wards. On 12 October 2021, Shapour Ehsanirad and Esmail Gerami were forced by the official authorities of Great Tehran Penitentiary to relocate to a ward in section 1, type 2 of the prison, with locked doors and inadequate conditions, including very poor lighting and sanitation. The human rights defenders were told that if they refused to relocate, Special Prison Guards would take action to relocate them by force.

On 21 September 2019, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced Shapour Ehsanirad to six years’ imprisonment, including five years for “assembly and collusion against national security” and one year for “propaganda against the state” The labour rights defender is currently serving his sentence in the Great Tehran Penitentiary. Despite his poor health condition and backache, he has been denied furlough for medical treatment.

On 6 June 2021, the Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Esmail Gerami to five years imprisonment, 74 lashes and a 20-million IRR fine on charges of “gathering and colluding with intent to commit a crime against national security” which was later upheld by the court of appeal on 19 September 2021. He was arrested on 7 March 2021 during a peaceful assembly outside the Ministry of Labour in Tehran in conjunction with nationwide pensioners’ protests and was released the next day. On 3 April 2021, the labour rights defender was arrested in his house and has been detained in Great Tehran Penitentiary since then. Esmail Gerami is reliant on medication for preventing epileptic seizures and has been denied medical leave.

Front Line Defenders is concerned that the physical attacks against human rights defenders Shapour Ehsanirad, Esmail Gerami in Great Tehran Penitentiary occur in the context of a worrying increase in deaths of inmates in custody in Iranian prisons. Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Shapour Ehsanirad and Esmail Gerami as they are currently at risk, and believes they are being detained as a result of their legitimate and peaceful human rights work in Iran. Front Line Defenders also reiterates its concern regarding the conditions of prisons in Iran in the context of COVID-19, such as overcrowding, the denial of access to medical care and disregard for the well-being of prisoners, as well as unhygienic conditions.