Osman Esmaeili, a 64-year-old Kurdish labour activist, is being denied access to specialised medical care and leave due to opposition from the Ministry of Intelligence, raising concerns over his deteriorating health.

Esmaeili, who has been imprisoned since November 2023, suffers from a number of health problems, including a hernia and spinal stenosis.

A doctor accredited by the Iranian Legal Medicine Organisation in Kurdistan Province has warned that the activist is at risk of becoming disabled in his legs if he continues to be detained and denied medical care.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned that Esmaeili was transferred to Sanandaj Central Prison on 12 February to begin treatment, but no progress has been made in his treatment, apart from a few simple tests.

On 9 April, Sanandaj Central Prison sent a letter to Branch Four of the Enforcement of Judgements Office in Saqqez, Kurdistan Province, stating that Esmaeili was suffering from various health problems and requested his release due to his physical inability to continue his detention, but this request was rejected by the Ministry of Intelligence.

In recent days, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) has expressed concern over Esmaeili’s physical condition and called on the International Labour Organization (ILO) to urge the Iranian government to provide him with immediate medical care and release him from prison.

On 2 January, Branch Two of the Saqqez Criminal Court ordered Esmaeili’s temporary transfer from Saqqez Prison to Evin Prison in Tehran for medical follow-up. However, Evin prison officials refused to admit him, citing shortcomings in his case file, and he was returned to Saqqez prison.


A prominent figure in the Kurdish labour rights scene and a former political prisoner, Esmaeili was arrested by security forces in Saqqez on 8 February 2023 and taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention centre in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province.

After 70 days in detention, Esmaeili was provisionally released from Saqqez prison after on bail of 10 billion Iranian rials – nearly 20,000 USD.

Esmaeili was tried on 18 June 2023 in the first branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Saqqez and he was notified of the decision on 11 September 2023.

The verdict stated that Esmaeili received 31 months and 15 days for “membership” of the Komala Kurdistan’s Organisation of the Communist Party of Iran on the charge of “actions against national security” and a sentence of seven months and 15 days of imprisonment for “propaganda against the state”, related to his presence in the burial ceremony for Jina Amini.

Esmaeili had previously shared part of his verdict on his Facebook page, highlighting that the court had revised the sentence to 16-months of imprisonment.

The activist said: “The court took into account the mitigating factors stipulated in Article 38 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, including Mr Esmaeili’s age and marital status. Referring to the recent amendments and Article 6 of the 2019 Law on the Reduction of Imprisonment in conjunction with Article 37 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, the court has revised the sentence to a 16-month prison term, factoring in the previous days of detention.”

In late October 2023, the Supreme Court later upheld a 16-month prison sentence for Esmaeili and he consequently received a notice from Branch Two of the Enforcement of Judgements Office of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Saqqez, ordering him to appear in court within ten days to begin serving his sentence.

On 13 November 2023, the activist was imprisoned to serve a 16-month sentence in Saqqez Prison.

Over the years, Esmaeili has faced multiple detentions and imprisonments due to his advocacy for workers’ rights and his role in organising events in Saqqez to mark International Workers’ Day.