❉ Update on Strikes and Labor Protests in Iran – January 29th thru February 16th

This is ISICRC’s seventh report on the ongoing national workers uprising; for all previous reports please click here.

 

January 28: Today the Shush branch of the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Mohammad Khanifar, a protesting worker at Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company. After the January 25th strikes of the workers in various sections of the company in protest to their speaker’s – Esmail Bakhshi’s – arrest, the Shush branch of the Ministry of Intelligence summoned a number of the protesting workers. Khanifar was one of them. He was later arrested and then moved to an unknown location.

Mohammad Khanifar

January 29: Today Mohammad Khanifar was released from the Shush branch of the Ministry of Intelligence’ detention center on a 50-million-tooman bale. He had been arrested on January 28.

January 31: Today various labor guilds of France collectively issued a statement in support of the striking Iranian workers, in which they expressed concern over the massive suppression of the syndicalist activists in Iran. Concentrating on Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company and Ahvaz Steel Works as the loci of protests, the statement cites the fact that the Iranian wage-earners have not received their wages in months. The statement asserts that the Iranian regime’s response to legitimate protests has been to arrest and incarcerate protesters such as Habibi, Abdi, Beheshti, Mardani, Bakhshi, Nejati and Gholian. Then it draws attention to the regime’s nefarious methods to break protesters, such as televised forced confessions and accusations of working for foreign governments. In the end, the statement demands that the Iranian regime observe international agreements on human rights and labor rights; otherwise the French labor guilds will file complaints against the Iranian regime in international courts. They mention that on February 26 they will hold a rally in Paris’ labor organization in solidarity with the arrested Iranian workers.

February 5: Today a court of appeal was held for Davoud Razavi, member of the managerial board of the National Bus Company, in Branch 36 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Razavi had been previously charged with “picketing with the intention of conspiracy against the state” and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Saleh Nikbakht, Razavi’s lawyer, rejected the charge and defended his client’s activities and participation in May Day celebrations and demand for minimum wage and residence for workers as legal guild activities, asking for his exoneration in the end.

Esmail Bakhshi

February 8: Today Farzaneh Zilabi, Esmail Bakhshi’s lawyer, was summoned to the court. The Islamic Revolutionary Court of the Shush County in Khuzestan Province called upon Zilabi to testify about Bakhshi’s activities in the capacity of an “informed source.” Zilabi herself informed the public of the summons by releasing a statement. In the statement she asserted that this summons is tantamount to putting pressure on her client, which is an illegal thing to do by the authorities, because lawyers should not be coerced to reveal condemnatory information on their clients. Bakhshi, an employee of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company and the representative of its protesting workers, was first arrested by the security forces last December and spent 25 days in custody. After his release, Bakhshi claimed that he had been tortured while in the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence. However, the judicial and legislative authorities rejected his claim. Bakhshi was arrested again shortly after his remarks.

Parvin Mohammadi and Jafar Azimzadeh

February 13: Today the Free Guild of Iranian Workers sent an open letter to the World Labor Organization, protesting the “new trend of oppressing the workers in Iran.” The open letter asked the organization to call upon the Iranian regime’s authorities to release all the arrested labor activists, including Jafar Azimzadeh and Parvin Mohammadi. Azimzadeh is the director of the board of the Free Guild of Iranian Workers; and Mohammadi is the deputy chief of the Free Guild of Iranian Workers. They were both arrested by the security forces in Karaj last week.

February 14: Today teachers across western Iran started to protest the poor educational standards in the schools of the country and demanded their postponed wages, including better pensions for their retired colleagues. Images show teachers holding up banners demanding the release of jailed teachers in Urmia, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj.

In the meantime, the security forces arrested Mokhtar Assadi, a Kurdish teachers’ guild activist, and moved him to an unknown location. Assadi had previously been sentenced to one year of imprisonment in Evin Prison for his activities and was released only last summer.

Mokhtar Assadi, member of the Teachers Guild of the Province of Kurdistan

February 15: Today the workers of the Iranian National Railroad Company went on strike in several cities across the two Azarbaijan provinces. In protest against the postponement of their wages by the government and lack of job security, the railroad workers picketed in Marand, Jolfa, Tabriz, and Ajabshir.

February 16: Today the workers of Tabriz Ball Bearing Company picketed in front on the Tabriz governor’s office to protest the postponement of their wages for the past seven months.

Teachers in western Iran