August 17, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A court in Iran's western Kurdistan Province has sentenced two labor activists to 2 1/2 years in prison following convictions for national-security offenses, Radio Farda reported.
Sheys Amani and Sedigh Karimi were found guilty of security charges that include ties to banned opposition groups.
The two have rejected the charges. They have 20 days to appeal their sentences.
Jafar Azimzadeh, the spokesman for an Iran-based group set up to defend the unemployed, told Radio Farda that the men are among the leaders of the labor movement in Iranian Kurdistan.
Azimzadeh said he thinks they are being punished because of their human rights activities.
"The government of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] has been linking the leaders of the workers movement and activists to [banned] parties and charging them with disrupting public order and acting against national security," Azimzadeh said. "These two have done nothing but defend their rights. [Officials] wants the leaders of the workers' movement to remain at home; [officials] take these measures so that workers cannot defend their rights."
Radio Farda reports that in recent months, Iranian authorities have increased pressure on workers who protest for better wages and improved working conditions.
Last week, an international day of protest was held in a number of countries to highlight the cases of jailed Iranian labor leaders Mansur Osanlu and Mahmud Salehi.