Renowned labor activist, President of the Iran Free Workers Union, representative of the Zagros steel workers, representative of 1,000 workers protesting extortion of their social security benefits; arrested in February 2015, now on hunger strike.
Mr. Azimzadeh is one of the organizers of a petition with the signatures of 40,000 workers. The petition called for an increase in minimum wage for workers, for the government to pay its debt to the Social Security Fund and reforms in the labor laws.
Moreover, Mr. Jafarzadeh protested repressive measures against workers and their unions, bans for workers to hold protest rallies and the fact that under Rouhani’s government – similar to that of Ahmadinejad – any such gathering is severely attack and oppressed.
He was arrested and sentenced to 6 years behind bars and a two-year ban of “any activity on cyberspace, the media and press” for organizing a campaign to gather 40,000 signatures from the workers’ community.
He has been accused of assembly and collusion with the intention of planning against national security, disrupting public order and propaganda activities against the state.
The Workers Free Union has announced that Mr. Azimzadeh’s real crime is forming this union; establishing the nationwide Union of Expelled & Unemployed Workers; cooperating with the follow-up committee to establish free workers groups; taking part in Labor Day rallies in Tehran’s Laleh Park back in 2009; orchestrating workers in protests back in 2005; forming, planning and managing workers rallies under the new government; and threatening to stage rallies and strikes in March 2014.
Giving interviews with Farsi-speaking media outside of Iran on workers’ difficulties is another allegation raised against him.
Azimzadeh was arrested once before prior to Labor Day (May 2014) and was released from prison on bail of 1 billion rials ($30,000).
Jafar Azimzadeh and Ismaeel Abdi (teacher), who had also received a six year sentence, issued a joint statement on April 29th, 2016 from ward 8 of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison announcing the start of their unlimited hunger strike.
Reasons Behind the Hunger Strike:
Protesting a security climate overcasting guild activities, gatherings and strikes staged by workers and teachers, sub-poverty line wages, ban on holding independent and free rallies on Labor Day and World Teachers Day, lack of transparency and effective action by the World Labor Organization in the face of basic rights violations against Iran’s workers and teachers, demanding the charges of “assembly and collusion with the intention of planning against national security” and other security allegations be dropped from the court cases of protesting workers and teachers, and dropping bogus and fabricated allegations from their own and other jailed workers and teachers’ court dossiers.
Azimzadeh’s physical weakness and his inability to attend weekly visits due to fatigue
Iran Free Workers Union issued a statement on May 11th saying Jafar Azimzadeh had a weekly visit with his family. However, he informed his family he is unable to walk the long distance to the visiting hall due to his low blood pressure, fatigue and severe physical weakness. Therefore, he asked his family not to go visit him.
Footnote – The Iran Free Workers Union is a workers union seeking to increase the monthly minimum wage to 30 million rials ($865).
Currently the workers’ minimum wage, despite a 14% increase this year, is 11 million rials (around $324).