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IRANIAN authorities unexpectedly released six activists at the weekend.
The activists had all been jailed for participating in strikes or labour movement protests and were all released on payment of huge bails — that of veterinary student and social activist Sepideh Gholian, who had supported a strike by sugar mill workers over unpaid wages, was set at over £100,000.
Ms Gholian was sentenced to 18 years behind bars in September. In November she made a TV confession which prompted allegations that she had been tortured.
Another released was trade union and women’s rights activist Atefeh Rangriz, who was arrested at a May Day demo in Tehran and sentenced to 11.5 years’ imprisonment and 74 lashes.
Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights assistant general secretary Jamshid Ahmadi said the releases “showed that through co-ordinated campaigning we can put pressure on the theocratic regime in Iran to moderate its behaviour.
“Sepideh and Atefeh should not have been arrested anyway as they had not committed any offence under any law.
“The fact that many trade unionists are still languishing in prison means that we still have work to do. We need to mobilise all trade union movements to get Iranian Teachers Trade Association general secretary Esmail Abdi and his colleagues Mohammad Habibi and Mahmoud Beheshti released from prison. Their only ‘crime’ was to campaign for better pay and conditions for their members.”
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