From Human Rights Watch
(Beirut) – Iranian authorities on January 20, 2019 arrested two activists who had alleged that authorities tortured them in detention, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests of Ismael Bakhshi, a prominent labor rights activist, and Sepideh Gholian, a journalist and labor rights activist, came the day after Iranian state television broadcast confessions that they said they were forced to make in detention.
On January 4, Bakhshi, a leading representative for the workers at the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company in Shush, Khuzistan Province, posted on his Instagram account that he had been severely beaten during his 25-day detention in November 2018 by the Intelligence Ministry in Khuzistan province. On January 9, Gholian said on her Twitter account that she had witnessed authorities severely beating Bakhshi at the time of his first arrest on November 18, when they were peacefully protesting unpaid wages for fellow Haft Tappeh workers and authorities arrested them.
“Iran’s security agencies are using smear campaigns, torture, and forced confessions against activists like Ismael Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian, who have the temerity to defend workers’ rights,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Broadcasting activists’ ‘confessions’ on State TV only raises more concerns about torture and mistreatment in detention.”
Despite initial promises, the authorities have failed to conduct any credible investigations into the torture allegations. On January 19, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 broadcasted a program that include confessions by Bakhshi and Gholian in detention. The video also accused the activists of being connected to Iran’s banned Worker Communist Party.
Read full report here.