As previously reported, Branch 106 of the Arak Criminal Court sentenced over 40 AzarAb Industries workers in City of Arak each to one year in prison, 74 lashes, and one month of forced labour under in the name of “community service” (The numbers of workers were originally reported in the media as being 42 but the judiciary reported they were 41). These workers were arrested last year after they protested against the delays in payment of their wages, job insecurity and the privatization of the company. This unjust and inhumane verdict caused huge uproar in the country and in social media, prompted all independent labour and social groups to denounce it strongly; it also faced strong condemnation by international labour organizations including the IndustriALL Global Union. Facing growing condemnation for sentencing workers to cruel and inhuman flogging sentences, government authorities and the judiciary soon started retreating from their original aggressive position against these workers.
On Monday, June 29, 2020, the Chief Justice of Markazi Province was forced to reconsider the verdict. “I am following the case of 41 workers in AzarAb, the decision which has been made is not final and it will be reconsidered,” he told ISNA. Finally, on Tuesday, June 30th the verdict of the lower court was announced suspended by the appeals court and later the Chief Justice of Markazi Province announced that sentences against these workers have been withdrawn. He also referred to a separate existing charge of “propaganda against the system” against a number of these workers, stating that “the acquittal of 15 workers of the AzarAb Arak Company on charges of propaganda against the system has been issued’.
At this time, it is not very clear whether there are any conditions for the withdrawal of these sentences as we have repeatedly witnessed the Iranian government’s total lack of transparency, accountability and liability. Nevertheless, a heartfelt congratulations to our fellow workers at the AzarAb industries is in order for defending themselves against these unjust sentences and for standing up for their rights. Many thanks for the support and solidarity all over the world.
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
July 5, 2020