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Demand Release of Imprisoned Workers Activists in Iran

Brutal suppression of workers and other social moments such as students’ and women’s movements is carried on by the Islamic regime in order to maintain its power. Capitalism under an Islamic Regime has demonstrated one of its most barbaric and ruthless nature.

 

More than ten workers activists are in prison in Iran for defending workers’ basic rights, such as establishment of independent workers’ organisations.

Jailed workers and political prisoners in general are subjected to physical and mental torture and are held in inhuman and unbearable conditions while in prison. In order to achieve their basic human rights, political prisoners are forced to go on hunger strike. Reza Shahabi, the Secretary-Treasurer of Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, who has been incarcerated since 2010, on two separate occasions was forced to stage hunger strikes demanding access to medical treatment for his deteriorating health. He has been sentenced to five years imprisonment on sham charges, such as acting against national security. In the past few years there have been numerous calls from various international labour and human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International for immediate release of Mr. Shahabi.

In the latest of such incidents Mr. Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran went on hunger strike on April 5, 2014 in protest against his unlawful transfer to another prison with worse condition. Shahrokh Zamani was originally arrested in June of 2011 and in a subsequent sham trial was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment after conviction on charges including “acting against national security”. His hunger strike lasted 38 days. During his hunger strike a petition against inhuman treatment of Mr. Zamani was signed by around one thousand workers activists, trade union officials and writers internationally. He ended his hunger strike after the Islamic regime, under pressure, agreed to transfer Mr. Zamani to his original prison.

Incarcerated labour and political activists are subject to unprovoked physical attacks. One of the worse and latest of such vicious attacks was carried out on Thursday April 17, 2014 in ward 350 of the notorious Evin prison. At about 8:30 am the security forces including prison’s anti-riot unit, armed with batons under the pretext of inspecting the cells attacked political prisoners and viciously beat them up. As a result of this brutal attack 19 prisoners were injured, some with broken noses and bones, many were seriously hurt with bruises all over their bodies. Hearing the news of the attack, the families of prisoners demonstrated in front in Evin prison and presidential office demanding an answer for such brutal attack. It is, widely believed the Regime’s intention in carrying out such barbaric act is to create and impose an atmosphere of fear and intimidation on the population as a whole.

The Islamic Regime of Iran despite of all its rhetoric against western powers has been actively implementing neoliberal economic policies for more than 25 years with devastating effects on the working class and the vast majority of the population. At present, around 90 percent of workers are in temporary work contracts. The minimum wage as set by the state is currently £120 per month while the Islamic regime defines the poverty line as £360. Factory closures and non or late payment of wages is widespread and subsidies on fuel, electricity, water and basic commodities such as bread has been cut, contributing to high inflation which stands, at 40% by official estimates.

Brutal suppression of workers and other social moments such as students’ and women’s movements is carried on by the Islamic regime in order to maintain its power. Capitalism under an Islamic Regime has demonstrated one of its most barbaric and ruthless nature.

However, workers’ struggles against such social conditions continue in October 2013, around 1500 petrochemical workers in south of Iran went on strike demanding wage increases and better working conditions. In November last year, 2000 miners near the city of Ardkan staged all out strike action demanding higher wages and improved working conditions. More than 40,000 workers mainly in Tehran province have signed a petition demanding wage increases, while hundreds of them staged a rally in front of Ministry of Work and Social Affairs in Tehran, and protests against factory closures, as well as late and non-payment of wages are widespread.
The Iranian working class, especially imprisoned workers activists need international support and solidarity. We are calling on all concerned individuals and trade unions internationally to express their outrage against persecution of workers in Iran and demand immediate release of all jailed workers and all political prisoners in Iran.

* Council of Solidarity with Iranian People’s Struggle – UK
May 1, 2014 [email protected]

* Consist of Iranian labour and political activists including some members of IASWI in UK

Written by IASWI

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IASWI English Newsletter-Workers’ struggles in Iran; Vol 4, No 1, May 2014