Jailed labor activist tortured, forced fed hallucinogen drugs

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A relative of a Haft Tappeh Sugarcane mill worker and labor leader says he was tortured in custody and was now suffering from severe physical and psychological problems.

Shahed Alavi a freelance reporter said that the relative, who asked to remain anonymous told him that Esmail Bakhshi was threatened before his release not to participate in any labor activities and was banned from publishing pictures of himself online.

“Esmail was treated in the worst possible way in prison”, the relative said in the audio file in a voice that was changed in fear of identification.

“Every time he passed out and then regained consciousness from pain, they gave him hallucinogen drugs and told him they were sedatives,” the relative said.

Esmail’s relative said that he was still suffering from the side effects of the drugs.

“Sometimes, he still has hallucinations and thinks that he’s still in prison. He becomes afraid and is suffering from psychological problems,” he said adding that he was also suffering from constant fever.

“He is not under house arrest but upon his release he was told that he had been fired from the sugarcane factory. He was threatened that if he or his family talks about his condition with anyone or if he continues protesting like before, he will be arrested again,” he added.

Esmail Bakhshi was arrested on November 18 in Shush during labor protests at local sugarcane mill, together with more than a dozen labor activists and workers. The others were later released. Shush is located in the oil-rich Khuzestan province.

Bakhshi was released on December 12 on bail. Since his release, he has been absent from workers strikes and other labor activities.

“He was beaten until he was on the verge of death,” the source said adding that some of his ribs were also probably broken.

“He was numerously hit with a baton in his reproductive organs and has trouble walking, sitting and sleeping now,” he added.

“Those who were in contact with Esmail before his arrest, as a colleague or partner in labor activities, were warned that if they visit Mr. Bakhshi they would also be arrested and immediately fired from work,” the labor activist’s family member said.

The source said that Esmail Bakhshi’s bank account was also blocked and one of his main problems was that he could not afford much needed medical treatment.

Labor activists had reported in late November that Esmail Bakhshi was tortured in custody and hospitalized.

The news about his possible injury in custody was reported by the bus drivers’ union in the capital Tehran.

The union published a statement saying Bakhshi “was hospitalized in a security clinic in Ahvaz”, the capital of Khuzestan, but he was later returned to the initial detention facility.

The statement added that Bakhsi was subjected to “psychological abuse and physical attacks” in detention to force him to admit to false accusations.

The governor of Khuzestan province and the prosecutor in Shush have denied that the prisoner was tortured or hospitalized.

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