Two labour rights activists who were rearrested after speaking out about beatings and other abuse they suffered in detention last year are at grave risk of further torture, Amnesty International has warned. Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian were violently arrested in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, on 20 January in apparent reprisal for talking publicly about the torture they have said they endured in detention.
The activists were first arrested on 18 November 2018 after participating in a peaceful gathering in front of the governor's office in Shush, Khuzestan, and seeking to meet with officials to discuss the unpaid wages of
several thousand workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar cane industrial complex.
Following their release on bail in mid-December, Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian gave Amnesty International a harrowing account of the torture they suffered at the hands of security police and ministry of intelligence officials in both Shush and Ahvaz. They said they had been relentlessly beaten, slammed against a wall and shoved to the ground, as well as being humiliated and threatened with flogging, sexual violence and murder.
Esmail Bakhshi is a spokesperson for the independent union of workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar cane industrial complex. Sepideh Gholian is a young labour rights activist who works to support the ongoing protests of Haft Tappeh workers. During their first bout of detention they were held in a ministry of intelligence detention centre in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province without access to their lawyers, until mid-December, when they were released on bail.