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Iran: Political suppression and struggle for freedom and equality

On the Occasion of International Workers’ Day – May 2018


The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran stands in solidarity with our sisters, brothers and comrades all around the world and with you in struggle against capitalism, neoliberalism, class oppression, exploitation and all forms of racial discrimination. We cherish what we have gained through our international workers struggles and solidarity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with you to continue fighting not only for better working conditions, increased wages, and job security, but also against fundamentals of all the governments with neoliberal agendas, and austerity policies, to bring justice and equality to all workers around the universe. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

On a regional level in Iran, the Iranian working class, and political activists utilizing the lessons of past victories of workers movements, causes, and independent trade unions, are contagiously inspired to fight and raise their socio economic demands to the government despite the brutal security measures that the Iranian Islamic regime has put in place against them for decades. Here we remind our comrades that the Islamic Republic of Iran:

1. Is one of the most murderous, brutal, and repressive regimes in the world. The Iranian people are deprived of their most basic rights, such as freedom of speech, opinion, assembly, strike, and the formation of the independent workers’ organizations or unions of any sorts. People’s socio-economic demands and political rallies in Iran continue to be severely suppressed for decades. Imprisonments, tortures, executions, and expulsions have been the only consistent responses to those who have been dared to act against the status quo or fight for what they believe.

2. Utilizing the Islamic rule of law, this regime has adopted all the discriminatory measures against women and has legalized sexual apartheid in country; in accordance to the Islamic rule of law, women are only worth half a witness and having half the worth of men in all social spheres to the right to divorce, the custody of children, and financial settlements. They are severely discriminated and suppressed. They are deprived of the right to govern their own bodies, and are obliged to observe the Islamic dress code by law, and if they choose to bend the law, they will be beaten and prosecuted. Acid-spraying on women with “bad hijab” has been one of these repressive methods.

3. The ruling regime in Iran is theocratic and according to the constitution, it takes its legitimacy not from people but from God and jurisprudential rulings. However, this regime is a staunch advocate of capitalism, and since the 1980s, it has pursued and implemented the right-wing economic policies of the global capitalism and neoliberalism in Iran.

4. As elsewhere, the advancement of neoliberal economic policies has greatly enhanced the class division in Iran, had a detrimental impact on the lives of workers and the majority of the people, and lavishly benefitted the 1% of country; the capitalist class, and the regime’s gangs in charge of its financial and economic infrastructures.

5. Many industries have been privatized and mostly entrusted to the authorities’ associations and relativist to be governed. Health and education have become more and more privatized. The so-called bread, water, and energy subsidies, as well as the social spendings have sharply declined. Other public services have been manipulated and commoditized to profit the 1% capitalist minority in the country. In addition to the insatiable cravings for earning more income and profit, the regime’s ignorance and negligence towards the preservation of the forests, pastures, rivers, lakes, aquifers, and in general the whole environment has put the country at the center of the ecological disasters.

6. The Iranian working class and poor are the ones who shoulder the burden of these harmful consequences of the government’s economic policies, the 90% of the Iranian working class who have no job security and protections, and instead of obtaining permanent contracts, they are employed based on the temporary contracts with the mediation of the contractual companies. They are subject to expulsion and unemployment that can happen in any given time. The steady decline in real wages has also driven more and more workers into poverty and deprivation; the minimum official workers’ wages in Iran are now around $ 120 per month, while the poverty line is five times larger than what the official statistics shown. In addition, there are big segments of the working class who for years have continually faced the problem of wage arrears, and their wages for months and years have not been paid to them, either due to the bankruptcy of some of the industries and production units, or because of the insatiable greed of the employers. For example, about 5,000 workers of the Haft Tapeh sugar cane plantation and mill complex, and several thousands of Ahwaz Steel Workers in south of Iran have been striking, rallying, and marching for months to receive their unpaid wages.

7. Unemployment is another disastrous problem that the Iranian working class under the Islamic regime is dealing with on a daily basis. While official statistics show unemployment is about 12 percent and the number of the unemployed persons is about 2.5 million, independent economic experts asserts that unemployment rate is at least twice as high as the unemployment rate that was officially reported by the regime, and they estimate that unemployment among young people and women reaches 40 to 50 percent, given the fact that many of the unemployed young people are university graduates.

8. While the vast majority of people in Iran are struggling with huge economic obstacles and reservation of their livelihood, every once a while the news of thefts, embezzlement, and the plunder of the public properties by officials, authorities, and government-affiliated gangs are divulged in the official news. The factions within the government in competition for gaining wealth, name, and power, reveal each other’s thefts, and officially disclose the numbers of billions of thefts and embezzlement of the other oppositions. According to the international standards, the Islamic regime of Iran is one of the most corrupt governments among the capitalist regimes.

9. Workers, teachers, nurses, women, students, retirees, and intellectuals, despite the socio-economic devastations imposed on them by the Iranian regime, have not been the silent victims of the ongoing miseries. During nearly four decades of being ruled by the capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, these layers of the Iranian working class have courageously fought and poured into the streets of Iran again and again against the above mentioned catastrophes, and for the acquisition of their human rights. These struggles have become widespread and intensified, especially in recent years. In the past few years, on average, about three strikes, rallies, and demonstrations have been carried out by workers throughout the country on daily basis. In some of these protests, thousands of workers went on strikes, assembled in front of the government offices or entities in protest, and rallied across the city with their families. In the same years, teachers at the same time simultaneously struck or rallied several times in different parts of the country.
10. The latest and the greatest of these protests took place in late December 2017/early January 2018. In this period, the masses; workers, toilers, young and old, and as a whole the oppressed who continue to bear the weight of these ongoing miseries on their shoulders, simultaneously organized and joined the street demonstrations in nearly hundred cities across the country for more than a week. The synchronized launch of the economic and political slogans was a prominent feature of these demonstrations.

The slogans of “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei” were the sweeping mottos in these enormous and extensive demonstrations. Protesters have also chanted slogans against the regime’s military interventions in the Middle East. As a usual policy, the Islamic regime relied on its perpetual weapons of repression in its confrontation with the people; more than 20 demonstrators were killed by the security forces, and over 4000 demonstrators were arrested and imprisoned. Among them were university student; some of them are released on excessively high bail amounts, and several of them are still in jail and received sentences. Although through the use of fear mongering strategies; such as killing and savagely suppressing the protests, the Iranian regime could prevent the further extension of the demonstrations and silence the uprising , but many of the political analysts say that the fire is under the ashes and may flame up at any time.

11. Shortly after the January uprising, in its resumption and continuity, a young woman on the Revolution Street, one of the (Tehran’s Central Streets), climbed on a platform, and in protest against the forced veiling (compulsory hijab), unveiled herself, and swayed her scarf in the air. She was arrested, and recently was freed from jail on bail. But this courageous action continues to be repeated by the fearless Iranian women, despite being regularly assaulted, or arrested by the security forces. This movement has popularly known as “the Girls of the Revolution Street”, and has widely been welcomed by the Iranian people. The movement now has become one of iconic examples of the fierce struggle of the pro equality Iranian women in challenging the regime’s anti-women policies today.

12. As the result of being ruled by the Islamic capitalist regime of Iran for 40 years, the class gap has unprecedentedly risen, and the official statistics shows that the majority of the Iranian people are living below the poverty line, and more than a third of people are living under the absolute poverty line. The intensifying exploitation of the workers and the inflicting poverty brought upon them is collapsing the Iran’s economy; the Islamic regime is facing a major structural crisis and is deeply turning into the deadlock. Workers, and in general, the vast majority of people are no longer able to withstand the situation and want a fundamental change of the situation. All the evidence suggests that Iran is on the verge of a massive political turbulence and transformation.

Under these circumstances, using the general discontent of the Iranian people with the Islamic regime, the U.S. Government, under the rise and reign of Donald Trump, and the reactionary regimes of the region, in particular Saudi Arabia and the racist regime of Israel, are bustling under the leadership of the United States to intervene in Iran, as well as promoting their anti-popular and reactionary policies and objectives in the region. The interferences as such, and the cases of Iraq, Libya, and Syria before us, show that these attempts only brings war, slaughter, destruction, homelessness, and nothing more for Iranians as well as the other countries in the region.

The Iranian workers and toilers have repeatedly shown that they have a dignifying power to determine their own political destiny. Furthermore, in the spirit of the international solidarity, it is the duty of all the global workers’ organizations, progressive forces, and organizations to defend all sorts of human causes in opposition to the destructive interferences of the powerful capitalist governments in the region, and around the world, and support the inspiring and tireless struggles of the working class in Iran and the region to achieve their stolen rights.

*International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) – May 2018
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Translated from Farsi by Zhaleh Sahand

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