Iran/UK: government must help UK national facing trial for labour rights work
Mehran Raoof at risk of long jail sentence as Revolutionary Court trial to begin
Like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, union activist is UK-Iranian dual-national
‘We fear he’s going to be slapped with a lengthy prison sentence’ - Kate Allen
Ahead of the trial in Iran tomorrow of a UK-Iranian labour activist, Mehran Raoof, Amnesty International is calling on the UK government to ensure that UK officials are given access to the trial amid fears that Raoof could be given a long jail sentence for his peaceful labour rights activities.
Raoof, a 64-year-old dual-national who lives between the UK and Iran, was arrested last October as part of a crackdown on labour activists in the country.
Raoof is due to stand trial tomorrow (28 April) at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, where trials are systematically unfair.
Fellow UK-Iranian dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has twice been subjected to grossly unfair trial proceedings before Iran’s Revolutionary Courts, with Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s lawyer reporting only yesterday that the 42-year-old mother from London had been given a new one-year prison term and a one-year travel ban. The family of another detained UK-Iranian dual-national, Anoosheh Ashoori, fear their 67-year-old relative may have contracted coronavirus in detention in Evin Prison.
Since his arrest last year, Raoof has been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison - which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards - in violation of the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment. Amnesty fears that Raoof has been subjected to further torture and other human rights violations, especially given the Revolutionary Guards’ track record of torturing detainees into making “confessions” that are used as “evidence” in subsequent, deeply unfair trials.
Raoof is due to stand trial tomorrow alongside another dual-national - a 66-year-old German-Iranian, Nahid Taghavi. Taghavi, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, has been arbitrarily detained in Evin Prison since her arrest in October. Like Raoof, Taghavi has been held in prolonged solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin. Again like Raoof, she has been denied access to a lawyer, and her lawyer is not permitted access to her casefile - thereby denying her the right to an adequate defence.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:
“Like other dual-nationals before them, Mehran and Nahid are at acute risk of a grossly unfair trial after their arbitrary detention in Evin Prison.
“Mehran is a prisoner of conscience detained for campaigning for workers’ rights in Iran, and we fear he’s going to be slapped with a lengthy prison sentence after a deeply unfair trial.
“Mehran has been denied access to his lawyer, while in turn his lawyer has been denied access to Mehran’s case file.
“Mehran and Nahid should both be released immediately. Pending his release, the UK should urgently seek consular access to Mehran and ensure that a UK representative attends the trial hearing.”
Crackdown on union activists
The efforts of workers, trade unionists and labour rights activists in Iran to raise concerns about wages and working conditions have led to periodic crackdowns by the Iranian authorities. At least one labour rights activist - Arash Johari, who was arrested during a crackdown last October - has since been sentenced to 16 years in prison in connection with his labour rights activism.