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Jafar Azimzadeh Sentenced & Imprisoned

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the situation

On 9 September 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh informed his family that he had been transferred to the public ward of Rajaee Shahr prison.

On 1 September 2020, Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife was denied permission to visit her husband by the assistant prosecutor, who is appointed as the supervisor of the prison. Mr Azimzadeh’s health has been deteriorating since beginning a hunger strike on 16 August 2020, in protest against his transfer to solitary confinement at Rajaee Shahr prison. In addition to his pre-existing conditions, he is now suffering from significant weight loss and fatigue.

On 16 August 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh began a hunger strike in solitary confinement in Rajaee Shahr prison.

On 1 August 2020, the 36th Branch of the Court of Appeals upheld the additional sentence of 13 months' imprisonment against Jafar Azimzadeh.

On 26 July 2020, imprisoned labour rights defender Jafar Azimzadeh was assaulted on two separate occasions by two separate individuals, neither of whom he is acquainted with.

On 8 June 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh received an additional 13 month prison sentence on charges of "propaganda against state" from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court.

On 20 May 2020, Akram Rahimpour, Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife was summoned to the Second Branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, where she was questioned regarding interviews she had given to the media regarding her husband’s case.

On 4 May 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh was summoned to a hearing for a new charge to be brought against him.

On 29 January 2019, Jafar Azimzadeh was arbitrarily re-arrested to serve the remainder of his five year imprisonment sentence from 2015.

About Jafar Azimzadeh

jafar_azimzadeh Jafar Azimzadeh is a well-known trade unionist in Iran. He is the leading member of the Free Union of Workers in Iran. He is active in defending labour rights and the improvement of working conditions.

9 September 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh transferred to public ward of Rajaee Shahr prison

On 9 September 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh informed his family that he had been transferred to the public ward of Rajaee Shahr prison. The prison doctor visited the human rights defender in the Safe Ward that morning and announced this decision despite the reported positive result of his 5 September COVID-19 test. He had been transferred to the Safe Ward, where COVID-19 positive prisoners are being kept, the previous day. On 7 September, during a visit of the human rights defender's wife, the prison governor informed the couple that Jafar Azimzadeh had tested positive and that he would be transferred to the Safe Ward. The governor did not give evidence of the test results, which has been reportedly a common practice from the beginning of the pandemic in Iranian prisons. On 6 September 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh stopped his hunger strike after one hour of negotiations with the prison authorities and subsequently was transferred to the public ward from solitary confinement.

2 September 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh in solitary confinement; wife denied visit

On 1 September 2020, Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife was denied permission to visit her husband by the assistant prosecutor, who is appointed as the supervisor of the prison. Mr Azimzadeh’s health has been deteriorating since beginning a hunger strike on 16 August 2020, in protest against his transfer to solitary confinement at Rajaee Shahr prison. In addition to his pre-existing conditions, he is now suffering from significant weight loss and fatigue.

On 26 August 2020, with the permission of the same assistant prosecutor in the prison, Mr. Azimzadeh’s wife was allowed to visit her husband in the Governor’s office of Rajaee Shahr prison. This was the second visit allowed since the human rights defender was transferred to the prison. Since his transfer he has reportedly been denied breaks or access to phone calls, books, TV, or pen and paper.

24 August 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh begins hunger strike

On 16 August 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh began a hunger strike in solitary confinement in Rajaee Shahr prison.

On 16 August 2020, the human rights defender was told by a doctor in Evin prison that he would be  transferred to Taleghani hospital from the clinic in Evin prison, due to his critical health condition. His family’s attempts to visit him in the emergency ward of the hospital on the same day were unsuccessful. After 72 hours without any access to contact his family, Jafar Azimzadeh informed his family that he had been transferred from hospital to solitary confinement in Rajaee Shahr prison, which is regarded as one of Iran's harshest prisons based on its poor hygiene and living conditions.

Following the transfer, the defender began a hunger strike in protest against what he calls "the deception and transfer to solitary confinement in Rajaee Shahr prison instead of the hospital", "non-observance of health protocols against COVID-19 in prison, spreading false news about the absence of COVID-19 cases in Evin prison through state TV’s 20:30 news program" and "psychological harassment of his family.”

7 August 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh's additional sentence upheld

On 1 August 2020, the 36th Branch of the Court of Appeals upheld the additional sentence of 13 months' imprisonment against Jafar Azimzadeh.

The labour rights defender was charged with "propaganda against the state" on 8 June whilst already in prison serving a five year sentence.

That same day, the two prisoners who physically assaulted Jafar Azimzadeh on 26 July were moved to another ward of Evin prison.

The defender was subjected to two separate attacks by the prisoners in question but the prison authorities did not actively respond to the attacks against or risk to Jafar Azimzadeh at the time.

29 July 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh subjected to two attacks in prison

On 26 July 2020, imprisoned labour rights defender Jafar Azimzadeh was assaulted on two separate occasions by two separate individuals, neither of whom he is acquainted with. In neither instance did the prison authorities intervene to stop the assault, nor did they inquire with the defender as to the details of the assault, or show much interest or concern when he attempted to report the attacks.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Jafar Azimzadeh is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Free Union of Iranian Workers. Free Union of Iranian Workers (FUIW) is a group dedicated to defending labour rights and improving working conditions. The group has not been officially recognised by the Iranian authorities, and many of its leading members are frequently subject to harassment. Jafar Azimzadeh is currently serving a five year sentence for ‘crimes of assembly and collusion against national security through organizing and operating an illegal group’.

On the morning of 26 July 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh was attacked by a prisoner in the 8th Ward of Evin Prison. The defender has had no previous encounters with this person. The prison authorities did not intervene in the attack or do anything to restrain the attacker, nor did they enforce any punitive measures, as is usually done when fights or assaults occur. Following the attack, the authorities made no attempt to report the incident or question Jafar Azimzadeh as to what happened. Whilst the defender was making a complaint to the authorities, the prisoner who had attacked him appeared outside the room they were in and swore at him, threatening to kill him, to which the authorities did not respond.

Later that afternoon, another prisoner from a different ward, who Jafar Azimzadeh does not know either, approached him in the prison yard and slapped him in the face, despite not having displayed any animosity towards him prior to this. The defender was fearful for his life, as the prisoner was visibly high on drugs, and so he could not predict what he would do. Jafar Azimzadeh believes that this incident was related to the attack that morning, and that the prisoner who had first assaulted him had hired him to attack the defender.

Jafar Azimzadeh holds the authorities in Evin Prison responsible for both incidents as it was due to their negligence that they were able to occur, particularly with regard to the second attack, as no punitive measures had been enforced following the first, signaling that the attackers would enjoy impunity. Furthermore, the lack or reaction or response by the authorities to two attacks against the same prisoner in one day, has led Jafar Azimzadeh to believe that the security agencies may be behind the attacks, in an attempt to seriously harm him, or incite him to retaliate, so that they can file a new case against him and pressure him further. On 15 June 2020, he was sentenced to an additional 13 months’ imprisonment on charges of ‘propaganda against state’ from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court as a result of his human rights activities from within the prison.

On 20 May 2020, Akram Rahimpour, Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife was summoned to the Second Branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, where she was questioned regarding interviews she had given to the media regarding her husband’s case. The charges being brought against her are not known. This can be viewed as a further attempt to silence and place pressure on Jafar Azimzadeh and his family.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned by the two attacks against Jafar Azimzadeh in the same day, and more broadly, the holding of imprisoned human rights defenders alongside dangerous prisoners convicted of serious crimes, putting their lives and well being at risk.

Front Line Defenders further expresses deep concern regarding the increased harassment of Jafar Azimzadeh and his family members, through the use of new charges, an additional prison sentence of 13 months, judicial harassment of his wife and denial of temporary release in the context of COVID-19. Front Line Defenders believes that the targeting of Jafar Azimzadeh is in reprisal for his criticism of the Government and prison authorities, and his peaceful advocacy for other human rights defenders in prison, and an attempt to silence him.

15 June 2020
Jafar Azimzadeh sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment

On 8 June 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh received an additional 13 month prison sentence on charges of "propaganda against state" from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court. The entire legal process, from hearing to issuing the sentence, took just less than one month. The human rights defender said he will not appeal the decision, as he does not recognize the court. Rather, he will make his defence before the court of public opinion. Jafar Azimzadeh is currently serving a five year sentence for ‘crimes of assembly and collusion against national security through organizing and operating an illegal group’.
 

20 May 2020
Unknown charges brought against Akram Rahimpour, Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife

On 20 May 2020, Akram Rahimpour, Jafar Azimzadeh’s wife was summoned to the Second Branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, where she was questioned regarding interviews she had given to the media regarding her husband’s case. Akram Rahimpour was informed that she should introduce someone to the court as a guarantor in the coming days. The charges being brought against her are not known. This can be viewed as an attempt to silence and put pressure on Jafar Azimzadeh and his family.

4 May 2020
New charges against Jafar Azimzadeh

On 4 May 2020, Jafar Azimzadeh was summoned to a hearing for a new charge to be brought against him. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, which he was informed was related to: a joint statement released in November 2019 regarding sick prisoners; and an audio recording of him from prison denouncing the sentencing of Nasrin Javadi, a fellow member of the Free Worker’s Union, and others arrested during the May Day demonstration in 2019, as well as the sentencing of workers from the Syndicate of Haft-Tapeh Sugar Cane Company. Jafar Azimzadeh had initially refused to appear before the court when summoned on 2 May 2020, eventually agreeing to appear on 4 May.

30 January 2019
Jafar Azimzadeh re-arrested to serve “remainder” of sentence

On 29 January 2019, Jafar Azimzadeh was arbitrarily re-arrested to serve the remainder of his five year imprisonment sentence from 2015. He was sentenced in 2015 on charges of ‘propaganda against the regime’ and ‘crimes of assembly and collusion against national security through organizing and operating an illegal group’. The charges were upheld by the Appeal Court and on 8 November 2015 he began serving his sentence. He was temporarily released on 30 June 2016 following a two-month hunger strike.