Jafar Azimzadeh


Jafar Azimzadeh

Jafar Azimzadeh, 57, is a prominent labor activist and the Chairman of the Free Workers Union of Iran. He has been detained three times and spent more than four years in prison for organizing unions and strikes, demanding unpaid wages, and speaking to foreign media.

Azimzadeh was first detained on May 1, 2009, and again on May 1, 2014, for protesting on International Worker’s Day. He was held for a few weeks both times. In March 2015, he was tried for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” He was sentenced to five years. He was imprisoned from November 2015 until June 2016, when he was temporarily released on bail after a two-month hunger strike. In September 2016, Azimzadeh and a colleague were re-tried for the same charges; they were sentenced to an additional 11 years. He was ordered to return to prison in December 2016 and served six months; he was temporarily released when the court acquitted him of one charge in June 2017.

Azimzadeh in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran in October 2016: “All the charges and accusations against me are for trade union activities, such as organizing unions, non-violent labor strikes, and interviews with the media to defend workers’ rights, myself included. I am a worker.”

In January 2018, Azimzadeh was ordered to serve the rest of his sentence. He was eligible for pardon in February 2020, but he was sentenced to another one year and one month for signing a statement that protested prison medical policy. He contracted coronavirus in August 2020 and was hospitalized. He was returned to a public ward in September 2020.