Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Shahrokh Zamani, labor activist who was arrested on June 7, 2011, sentenced to 11 years in prison, and transferred to various prisons, is now banned from face-to-face visitations and phone calls. Zamani is a member of the Council of Representatives of Labor Organizations and the Painters’ Union. His heavy sentence was handed down by Branch 1 of the Tabriz Revolutionary Court on the charges of “propaganda against the regime”, “endangering national security” and “participating in organization of an illegal group” by setting up a coordination committee to help with the creation of independent labor unions.
In a letter to Amnesty International, Shahrokh Zamani stated that his lawyer was not given access to his court files or allowed to speak in court, and that his sentencing was pre-determined. He described how he had been kept in solitary confinement for 36 days and put under severe psychological and physical duress in an effort to extract a false confession, which he refused. He was transferred to the public ward after launching a hunger strike and endured 4 months of brutal interrogations before his court date.
Shahrokh Zamani’s mother, Zarin Najati discussed the present situation of her son in an interview with CHRR on February 9, 2013.
Some websites have reported a bail has been set for Shahrokh Zamani; can you confirm if he is being granted furlough?
No this news is not correct. We have not been contacted. Shahrokh is innocent and he is being kept behind bars. Shahrokh’s daughter had a suitor but we could not accept because how can we, when her father is in prison. Shahrokh’s children are left on their own while their father is transferred from one prison to the next.
When was the last time you were able to visit Shahrokh and how was his mental state?
His father, brother and I went to visit him Thursday of 2 weeks ago (January 31st). Shahrokh tried to be reassuring and told us that one day his innocence would be proven.
Besides the official charges against Shahrokh Zamani, what do you think is the real reason for his arrest? What has he done that caused his arrest and prevention from furlough?
Shahrokh says he did nothing and he doesn’t understand how they could keep him locked up. He said he told the authorities that he is a laborer; he has work to do, has done nothing wrong and should be released. He said he got angry with them and so the authorities are punishing him by handing down this heavy sentence. The others who were arrested with him told the court that they had falsely confessed under duress because they were beaten and they were released. But they kept Shahrokh behind bars.
Has the arrest of your son had any effect on your livelihood?
My husband is retired so we cannot help Shahrokh’s family. Nobody can help them. His wife, Mrs. Zamani has a job and barely manages to handle their expenses. Everything is so expensive now but what can they do? Their son and daughter are students, so responsibility falls on Shahrokh’s siblings and us.
Has there been a formal furlough request for Shahrokh Zamani? If so, what has been the response of the judiciary?
They said no, it is not possible and he must serve his sentence. Not only that, he is banned from face-to face-visitations. When he was in Tabriz prison he was allowed to talk to his father and I by phone. But since his transfer to Tehran, he is not allowed to make phone calls, and we see him from behind a glass when we have visitation.
What is your request of the judicial authorities?
I ask that they allow me to see my child. He is a laborer; he has a wife and kids. What is his crime? Clearly he is a laborer so he defended his fellow workers and there is nothing wrong with doing that. They must release him.