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A call for urgent action: 74 lashes and one year jail for 42 AzarAb Industries workers in Iran

Branch 106 of the Arak Criminal Court has sentenced 42 AzarAb Industries workers in Arak each to one year in prison, 74 lashes, and one month of forced labour under the guise of “community service”. The “crime” of these workers is that last year, together with their colleagues, they protested against the delays in payment of their wages and job insecurity after the transfer of this large industrial corporation to the private sector. The ruling comes as workers’ wages have not yet been paid in May and June of this year.

Workers in AzarAb Industries have been fighting against the company’s privation for the past number of years. Since the company was privatized, workers’ have seen significant deterioration of their job security, work benefits and frequent delays in payment of their wages.

In October 2019, the judiciary and security police summoned 21 AzarAb workers, 20 of whom were arrested after their visits. A number of workers who were brutally beaten by security forces, during their protests in October 2019, were taken to hospital, but an attack by security forces in the hospital left the injured workers without treatment. Eventually all these workers were released on bail but the security police and judicial authorities continued their prosecution despite the fact that they had done nothing but standing up for their livelihood and most basic rights as the working class.

Sentencing 42 workers collectively to ruthless lashes and imprisonment is beyond outrageous and just further reaffirms the anti-worker and repressive nature of the ruling state in Iran. Flogging sentences amount to physical and mental torture of workers and is the gross violation of their most basic human rights. In recent months, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed more attacks on workers’ rights and also cases where workers rights’ defenders have been sacked by their employers because of their labour activities.

We urge all workers’ organizations, trade unions, and workers’ and human rights defenders internationally to strongly condemn these cruel and unjust punishments of workers and to call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to arrests and repression of workers, labour activists, teachers and independent labour originations in Iran. We demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of these charges and freedom of all jailed labour activists in Iran.  The inhuman flogging sentences must stop in all instances. Internationally recognized Workers’ and human rights including freedom of association, right to organize, freedom of speech and freedom of the press must be respected.

In solidarity,

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

June 25, 2020

[email protected];;

PLEASE SEND protest letters to the electronic addresses below: Please also send them via the Iranian diplomatic representatives accredited to your country, if there is an Iranian diplomatic mission in your country. Although Iranian embassies’ addresses change frequently, please see the link below which might help:

· Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian)
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

· President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and
@Rouhani_ir (Persian)

· The Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran – High Council of Human Rights
[email protected];

· Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Email: [email protected]

Cc: [email protected];