Omid Rezai looks at the case of a jailed militant on hunger strike in Iran
Reza Shahabi, an Iranian labour activist, has been in held in Block 209 of Tehran’s notorious Evin jail, for months without conviction or even proper charge. Paying attention to the reality of his case shows that the situation for workers and working-class movements in Iran is different to that in Europe only in degree; bureaucratic and bourgeois-legalist excuses manufactured ad hoc to justify his continuing political incarceration, his alleged second trial remaining always just around a corner, since he was found to have no case to answer to on 25th May.
The authorities have attacked him still further. He has been subjected to aggression and intimidation, pressured to cut even his scheduled fortnightly telephone conversation with his family. In response, Reza began a hunger strike, demanding his immediate and unconditional release. Beginning on 1st November, his hunger strike led to the formation of a committee for his defence which attracted hundreds of signatories from across the Iranian labour movement. Mahmoud Salehi, himself recently released from jail, has become the spokesperson for the group. The authorities increased their attacks on Reza, at one point using his weaknesses as an excuse to stop him from talking to his family, telling them that he would not see them.