In This Issue: Labor activists arrested on International Workers’ Day

 ImageMay 06, 2014                                                                                                                                                     Volume 4, Number 1

info@workers-iran.org / http://www.workers-iran.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In This Issue:

 Labor activists arrested on International Workers’ Day

  • security forces brutal attack on political prisoners in Evin prison
  • the second phase of subsidies elimination
  • Neoliberalism in Islamic Republic of Iran: a brief history
  • Demand Release of Imprisoned Workers Activists in Iran
  • Updates on other jailed workers and a Sample Protest letters

 Labor activists arrested on International Workers’ Day

 Bus workers and other labour activists in Tehran, Mechanical Steel workers in a suburb of Tehran and a group of independent labor activists in Sanandaj were targets of state repression, and were arrested on May1st and the night before May 1st, solely because of their plans or participation in independent May Day celebrations and rallies throughout Iran.

According to various eyewitness reports from Tehran, confirmed by Vahed Syndicate as well, more than twenty members of Tehran’s Bus Workers’ Syndicate were brutally attacked, insulted and arrested in Tehran on May1st, for merely handing out sweets on the streets and attempting to march towards the Ministry of Labor building.

Bus workers had previously announced their plans for a march towards Ministry of Labor building on May 1st, 2014. Even before their march had begun the entire starting point was packed with security forces in uniform and civilian attire, looking for well-known leaders of Bus workers, and as soon as the security agents would see any of those leaders they would forcefully arrest them on site, and violently and disrespectfully force them into a big van. After arresting twenty three Bus workers, and forcing them into the van (which was escorted by four motorcycles, two driving behind and two driving in front of the van) the Bus workers were sent to Evin prison.

 In front of Ministry of Labor building there were also reports of two arrests; the arrestees, Ms. Parvin Mohammadi and Mr. Shapour Ehsanirad, both leaders of “Free Union of Iranian Workers” who had publicized calls to hold a rally in front of Ministry of Labour. Ms. Mohammadi’s house was attacked on the night of 30 of April by security forces, entering her residence by breaking the door, but they were unable to arrest her because she was not there. Two other leaders of Free Union of Iranian Workers Messer Jafar Azimzadeh, the Chair of the Board of Directors of “Free Union of Iranian Workers” and Jamil Mohammadi, a member of the Board of Directs, were also brutally arrested in their houses in front of their family members on 30 of April and their computers and some other documents were also confiscated by security agents.

While all arrested Bus workers and both Ms. Parvin Mohammadi and Mr. Shapour Ehsanirad have been released, Messer Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi remain incarcerated.  Based on the latest news, they are detained in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin prison and have been going through intense interrogation.

 According to other news received from Iran, members of a labour organization named “Mechanical Steel Workers’ Syndicate” attempting to informally celebrate May 1st in west of Tehran; Baraghan, Karaj, in an event organized for families of workers, were also arrested Although the exact number of arrestees is yet undetermined, Mr. Maziar Gilaninezhad a member of this organization has been confirmed as being arrested.

 Also, on May 1st in city of Sanandaj, in Kurdistan province, Messer Khaled Hossaini, Abbas Andryary, Hamed Mahmoudinejad, Fardin Mirkey, Yadollah Samadi, Majid Hamidi, Jalil Mohammadi, Baha Sadoghi, Mehrdad Aminvaziry, Saied Sadeghi and Ms. Manijeh Sadeghi were all summoned to report to police stations and were held in custody for the entire day. In addition to city of Sanandaj, May 1st celebrations were also held in cities of Baneh and Paveh in Kurdistan province as well as major cities of Kermanshah and Rasht.

 All these arrests, intimidation and harassment of workers are occurring while the new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran goes on with his empty promises of “freedom” for workers to organize.

 Events of May 1st 2014 once more have demonstrated that Islamic Republic is vehemently opposed to any independent initiatives from workers and will go through any length to crush any and all independent voice of workers in Iran. The iron fist of state and its security forces and agents were also one more reminder that no matter what empty promises IRI officials might give, their concrete actions have always confirmed their hostility towards workers and their independent organization and autonomous.

 * Prepared by International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

http://www.workers-iran.org

info@workers-iran.org

 Condemn security forces’ brutal attack on political prisoners in Evin prison

 According to confirmed reports, on Thursday April 17, 2014, at about 8:30 am, an amalgam of security forces composed of Evin prison’s anti-riot unit, security staff from Judiciary, Intelligence Ministry and Guardian Corps’ members in civilian attire rushed into Ward 350 of Evin prison (Evin House of Detention) under pretext of inspecting the cell blocks. After physically inspecting each prisoner, they ordered all prisoners to leave their cells. 

 Since on previous inspections many items and documents from prisoners had been stolen or damaged, prisoners decide not to leave the cells and tell the inspectors that without disrupting their inspections they will stay in the cells, as to keep an eye on the proceedings. After this response one of the inspectors begins to tape all prisoners in the cells with a camera while the wards’ speakers repeatedly blasts orders in a menacing and threatening manner to immediately vacate cells one and three. A short while later the inspectors begin assaulting all the prisoners in cell one. Once the other prisoners who had been forced into prison’s yard become aware of this attack they start to assemble behind cell one’s window and protest by chanting and screaming in support of their fellow inmates.

 Afterwards a large number of anti-riot agents armed with batons positioned themselves on the staircases and hallways. These agents forced all the inmates from cells one and three, who were forcefully removed from their cells, to go through a “Tunnel of Fear,” (getting repeatedly hit on the head and shoulders by batons) on their way to outside the building. According to reports the beatings continued outside the ward which resulted in many serious injuries. Most of the attacks were directed against prisoners with leftist tendencies in these two cells. While assaulting and uttering most vile words these agents also destroyed all the properties in the cells. They piled up all the chairs, tables, food in the refrigerators, books, notes, and cells’ drapes… in middle of the cells. Some of prisoners’ monies were stolen.

 After the attack was over many prisoners were seriously hurt and bruises all over their bodies were clearly visible. 32 of the inmates who were attacked also had their head forcefully shaved. For some four hours Ward 350 of Evin prison was turned into a battlefield with blood all over the walls of cells one and two, prison’s yard and the bus used to transport the prisoners.

 According to confirmed reports this attack was led by individuals named below, who were all present during the assault; Ali Ashraf Rashidi, Evin Prison’s Warden: Javad Momeni, Evin prison’s Assistant warden in charge of ward 350: Colonel Amanian, Prison systems chief of security: Capitan Rafiee, Evin’s chief of security. Amanian and Rafiee were directly supervising many agents during the attack. The chief for security in Rajaie prison, Bahraini, was also present, directing his staff from Rajaie prison during the assault. In addition many other agents in civilian attire also took part in the attacks.

 The regime of Islamic Republic on the same day, and most probably in a coordinated move, also executed a political prisoner, Mr. Samko Khorshidi in Dizel Abad prison of Kermanshah.

 Based on prisoners’ testimonies numerous reports on this attack have been published throughout the world since April 17th, 2014. The voice of political prisoners’ and their afflicted families has been decisive in spreading the news about this barbaric, inhumane attack. A number of labour activists are also prisoners in ward 350 and were affected as well. IASWI considers its responsibility to inform workers’ organizations, progressive and leftist associations and parties, and Human Rights organizations throughout the world about the continuity of such brutal repression of political prisoners in Iran. The situation of political prisoners in Iran, which include workers, students, writers, journalists, lawyers, religious and ethnic minorities and sympathizers of opposition groups…, is absolutely precarious. Once again, persecution, harassment and pressures on political prisoners in jails of the Islamic Republic of Iran are reaching more heinous dimensions. We are calling on all concerned individuals and progressive organizations internationally to express your outrage against the recent attack on political prisoners in Iran. Our immediate demands could include the prosecution of all security forces and their commanders that led this attack as well as the immediate access of all affected/ injured prisoners to hospitals outside the prison. Our key demands include the immediate and unconditional freedom of all political prisoners and freedom of expression and association.

 April 21, 2014

 International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

http://www.workers-iran.org

info@workers-iran.org

 Please send your protests letters to:  info@leader.ir, info@judiciary.ir, iran@un.introuhani@csr.ir ; ijpr@iranjudiciary.org, info@dadiran.ir, office@justice.ir, support@irimlsa.ir; info@humanrights-iran.ir; avaei@Dadgostary-tehran.ir; bia.judi@yahoo.com; info@mlsa.ir; larijani@ipm.ir; 

Twitter: @khamenei_ir;  ‏@HassanRouhani

cc: info@workers-iran.org

 The second phase of subsidies elimination: What will that mean for the working class?*

 Ever since the end of Iraq-Iran war in late 80’s, in accordance with the wishes of international financial organizations, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund…, one main goal of every single administration in Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has been to eliminate all subsides that have been established in Iran throughout years of working people’s struggles.

 Although elimination of subsidies was always discussed during Rafsanjani’s two terms (1989-1997) and Khatami’s two terms (1997-2005), mainly due to fear of a social backlash, this undertaking was never actualized until the second term of Ahmadinejad’s administration, 2009-2013; during which all popular protests against electoral fraud were violently and forcefully crushed, and repression of labour organizing had been intensified, leaving the popular movements in Iran at one of their lowest point. The method proposed for elimination of subsidies was publicized as “goal orientation of subsidies” (a terminology taken directly from US Republican lexicon) in the form of giving cash payments to people, while raising the prices of all items that had been previously subsidized, such as heating, gas, electricity, food items,… Although all independent economists correctly warned against such an approach, pointing out to the tsunami of inflation that it would create in Iranian economy, nonetheless they went ahead with handing out cash payments, calling it “First Phase” of subsidies elimination. Ahmadinejad never got an opportunity to implement the second phase, due to internal political and economic obstacles the first phase created, coupled with implementation of extensive international sanctions.

 As a result during Ahmadinejad’s tenure the volume of liquidities in Iran jumped from 68,000,000,000 Tomans in 2003 to more than 500,000,000,000 Tomans in 2013. A seven fold increase, which was followed by a very modest gain in annual GDP from 2009 to 2001, while Iranian GDP actually shrunk by 1.9% in 2012 and 5.8% in 2013. World Bank estimates for 2014 in Iran is %1 growth. This brief juxtaposition provides a basic frame work for the root causes of current inflation in Iran.

 Two years ago, IRI’s own “Statistical Centre” had determined average cost of living for a family of four in cities as 1,200,000 Tomans and 840,000 Tomans in country side. However this year’s official wage increase by “Supreme Labor Council” (government’s official labor organization) was only 25% to 609,000 Tomans. This is in clear violation of IR’s own Labor Code, which according to its Article 41 worker’s wages must be determined in proportion to prevailing rate of inflation and adjusted cost of living. The current rate of inflation has been reported anywhere from 36.7% to 41%. Thus according to “Association of Trades Councils” in the past two years workers’ purchasing power has been decreased by 75%. Same organization has estimated the current line of poverty as 1,800,000 Tomans (approximately about $700.00). It has also reported that majority of workers are not able to even meet their “caloric needs,” meaning that majority of workers live under poverty line and in hunger.

 While Hassan Rouhani had promised during his campaign to increase all wages according to inflation rate, he clearly has no intention of fulfilling that, following the same deceptive path of all previous “promises” by IRI officials.

 Minimum wages of 609,000 Tomans approximately equals $200.00 (1$= 3,000 Tomans). According to some reports in the past few days a dollar has been exchanged for up to 3310 Tomans. This makes the cost of labor in Iran one of the cheapest in the region and the world, as compared to China’s minimum wage of $280 per month or the Turkish minimum wages of $580. Thus the CEO of “Auto parts makers association” Najafi’manesh asserts that “cheap labor (is) an incentive for foreign investments and expansion of automotive industries in Iran”.

 What is often forgotten is the fact that Labor Code, which is a total formality and in reality is never administered or implemented, only applies to shops with more than ten workers, while more than half industrial productions in Iran are done in shop with less than ten workers, thus depriving them from even these meager protections.

 Another significant point to keep in mind is the prevalence of temporary work force in Iranian economy. According to a January 2014 report by ISNA 80% of Iranian workers are working by “blank contacts” (this refers to contracts where workers simply only sign their names, but all other details are left to employers, which leaves the employees with zero protection or benefits of any kind). These temporary contracts vary from three days, to two weeks, twenty days, one month to three months.

 Taking all the above facts and figures into consideration, the question is whether people in Iran, particularly the most disadvantaged section of the working classes and the poor would be able to endure such sufferings any more. Iran moving towards revolts or not? We shall see.

Sources:

1)      “Inflationary tsunami and revolt of the poor in Iran” (Sunami tavarom va shoresh tohi dastan) Arash Zehforosh.

2)      “They’re taking away whatever is left from the poor and disposed” An interview with Dr. Raiesdana about elimination of subsides.

Written by Hoshang Tarehgol

 *Neoliberalism in Islamic Republic of Iran: a brief history

 From Rafsanjani (1989) to Rouhani (2014); a continuum.

 Although Iranian revolution of 1979 had one of the highest rates of industrial strikes and actions, compared to any other revolution before it, and workers played a significant role in overthrowing of monarchy, alas due to lack of clarity in workers’ demands and prevalence of a populist mode of thought amongst vast sectors of Iranian Left, the glorious anti-monarchist movement was ultimately defeated when a theocracy replaced the ousted monarchy.

 Workers, especially Oil refinery workers who stopped all Oil production through their strikes, were the backbone of 1979 revolution. Besides the Oil workers many other workers as well had created their own workers’ councils, in factories where the owners had fled the country, and implemented workers’ management and control over production. Workers’ power in revolution was so significant and substantial that even after revolution’s defeat, and expulsion, arrests and execution of labor activists opposed to IRI, workers’ rights in certain areas were formally still protected in Labor laws, which was a testimony and a reflection of this balance of power. Although none of them recognized the workers’ rights to organize freely, in comparison to Labor laws of Shah’s era, there were some improvements such as compensation for dismissal, and universal coverage of all workers under the Labor laws. With the onset of Iran-Iraq war in 1980 and priorities of a war economy, especially due to shutting down of Abadan Oil refinery (the largest refinery in the world at the time) and other industrial centers, IR was able to impose harsher conditions on workers, augment the position of its supporters (“Workers House”, Islamic societies, Islamic councils) and weaken the presence of vanguard and Leftist labor activists. It needs to be said that IRI was also tremendously helped in this process by some so called “leftist” groups that used IRI’s sham “anti-imperialism” as a pretext to facilitate IRI’s grip on power. June 1981 was a milestone in defeat of vanguard labor activists and victory of IR supporters in work centers.

 With the end of war in 1988 a “reconstruction Era” begun during  Hashemi Rafsanjani’s administration.(1989-1997) Main characteristics of this era were: onset of economic reforms, transformation of state ownership to individual owners and institutions close to IRI, expansion of private sector in economy, facilitation of  foreign investments and cooperation with foreign capitals.

 In Mohammad Khatami administration (1997-2005) this privatization process was drastically intensified and legal obstacles were removed step by step to augment the private sector. During eight years of Khatami’s presidency a management style very similar to post-modernist management in the West was savagely imposed on workers. This new system of management was institutionalized by: concentrating on elimination of collective bargaining agreements; division of large production centers into smaller units; handing out hiring and production contracts to outside contractors; reduction of inventory, production based on presold orders; non-coverage of workers in small workshop from Labor law protections (effecting millions of workers); drastic increasing of temporary work contracts and “white signature” contracts (contracts in which workers  sign an unwritten contract, whose details are determined by the employees as they see fit) In the context of vast unemployment many  retreats were imposed on workers. In this period non-payments of wages, sometimes going back to a year or two, became an ordinary phenomenon and a norm.

 

During Ahmadinejad’s administration (2005-2013) these economic reforms were continued with even more vigor, accompanied by a few populist gestures such as payment of cash subsidies. Although these subsidies were of some help to those below the poverty line, due to high inflation rates such cash subsidies were of no assistance to workers trying to obtain basic necessities of life. During administrations of Rafsanjani, Khatami and Ahmadinejad, the process of privatization and transfer of state ownership to individuals and institutions close to ruling Clergy and Guardians’ Corps. had consistently continued. When Western economic sanctions on Iran were implemented, majority of Iranian economy was in hands of individuals and institutions close to the ruling class. Western economic sanctions were implemented while eighty percent of Iranian workforce is employed as temporary labor, without any formal work contracts or benefits, considerable percentage of workers are not protected or covered by Labor laws, official minimum wage of workers is about one fourth of the poverty line, and official unemployment rate stands at about twelve percent which is significantly lower than the real rate of unemployment which is being estimated at about 30 percent.

 

Although Rouhani had promised to raise wages in line with the increases in inflation and adopt a more egalitarian social policy, during his campaign, in actuality his conduct has proven to be anything but what he had originally promised. Upon taking office his first act was to reverse a decision that was supposed to be making 500,000 temporary positions in various IRI ministries into permanent jobs. A most alarming development in his administration has been appointment of the previous head of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce (TCC), Masoud Nili, as his senior economic advisor. Nili has an extensive track record as a fierce proponent of most aggressive neoliberal policies in Iran, which is basically what he has been consistently advocating in his various positions as an academician or an official or his latest position before becoming Rouhani’s senior economic advisor as the head of TCC, which for many years has been pushing to impose the interest and policies of private capitalists and mega merchants as the official state policies. Nili’s appointment is an indication of their victory in that goal.

 

The content of Nili’s economic plan is in complete accordance with all neoliberal “structural adjustment” policies, such as: extensive privatization of all public institutions and services, promotion of competition in financial sector, changing of bankruptcy laws in favor of businesses, gradual increase of prices in the energy market, reduction of state and public expenditures, decreasing role of state in economic affairs, promotion of foreign investment, maintenance of a cheap labor market.

 

IMF in its March 2014 report on Iran has advocated exact same policies for Iranian economy, which are in complete agreement with the direction of Rouhani’s administration economic goals and agenda. Rouhani’s economic priorities and his implementation of the “Second Phase of Subsidies Elimination” (see the article on that theme in this issue) are early indication that in term of pursuing aggressive neoliberal policies, he will prove to be the most neoliberal administration yet.

 

*This piece is based on two articles by Majid Tamjidi: “Rouhani’s Administration and Plans for the Great Robbery”- April 2014

“Conditions of Iranian Working Class in Islamic Republic” Unpublished manuscript.

Majid Tamjidi is a labour activist and member of IASWI in Sweden. Translated by Hoshang Tarehgol

 

 

Demand Release of Imprisoned Workers Activists in Iran

 

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 worsecondition.  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 studentsand 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                         csipslondon@gmail.com

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

 Updates about the situation of jailed labour activists as of May 6, 2014 (Prepared by IASWI):

 –  Shahrokh Zamani, a member of theFounding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, is currently serving an eleven-year prison sentence in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were initially arrested in June 2011. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz later sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction of charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were both arrested in mid-January 2012 to begin serving their sentences. While in prison, Shahrokh Zamani, was violently forced to attend a court hearing on May 1, 2013, in which he was faced with a sham charge of insulting “the leader” (Ali Khamenei, The Supreme Leader of the IRI). Shahrokh was taken again to the court on September 8, 2013 and had to defend himself against the allegations that he has insulted Ali Khamenei in prison.  On 10 March 2014 Mr. Zamani was unexpectedly forced to relocate from Gohardahst prison to Rajaie prison, with no explanation or justification for such a move. In response to this illegal relocation Mr. Zamani went on a hunger strike which lasted for almost a month. During his hunger strike there was an effective solidarity campaign actively supporting his demand for not being removed from Gohardahst and due to the popular pressures the officials in charge of his case had to reverse their decision. Mr. Zamani lost about twenty kilograms of his weight and even his old friends have said they could not recognize him due to the severe weight loss. Mr. Zamani participated in a May 1st celebration and event in Gohardahst prison and delivered the speech for the proceedings.

 – Mohammad Jarahi, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations, an independent labour organization campaigning for the establishment of independent trade unions in Iran, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Mohammad Jarahi is in Tabriz prison, north-west Iran. Mohammad Jarahi and Shahrokh Zamani were initially arrested in June 2011. Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Tabriz later sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction of charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. Shahrokh Zamani and Mohammad Jarahi were both arrested in mid-January 2012 to begin serving their sentences. Mohammad Jarahi, serving his third year in Tabriz prison, has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Mohammad reportedly had part of his thyroid gland removed in a surgery about three month ago at a hospital in Tabriz. Based on the final results of the tests and the detection of the Medical Commission, it is essential that Mohammad Jarahi sooner rather than later be transferred to a hospital outside the prison in order to be treated properly. Despite doctors’ diagnosis and follow-ups of the family of Mohammad Jarahi, officials in Tabriz prison and judicial authorities refuse to let him out of prison and his hospitalization and treatment are not approved.

 – Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, member of The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations, and a Children’s Rights advocate, has been incarcerated in Evin prison since June 2010.  Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was initially sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in December 2010 on national security charges. This was overturned by the Supreme Court, and after a retrial he was sentenced to five years in prison after conviction of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”, apparently in connection with his labour activities on behalf of The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations. This sentence was upheld on appeal in October 2011. Bahman Ebrahimzadeh, who was given a temporary release in order to care for his 14 year old son who is suffering from cancer, was under heavy pressure to return to prison, while his only son is bedridden and needs his father on his side.  Latest reports indicate that, despite Behnam’s pleas and calls by many labour activists and organizations in Iran, Behnam was forced to return to Evin prison on Monday, August 26, 2013. Behnam Ebrahimzadeh Defence Committee reports on September 15, 2013 that after Behnam was transferred to prison from his temporary medical leave for his son, the prison authorities decided to open a new case against him for reporting to the prison a few days after the deadline.   Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was one of the inmates severely attacked during the 17 April raid on political prisoners of Evin. After the attack he and nine other injured political prisoners were sent to solitary confinement in ward 240 for fifteen days. After he was briefly returned to the general prison population of Evin, on May 2, 2014 he was sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin again.

 – After 19 months of imprisonment, Pedram Nasrollahi, a well-known labour activist in Iran’s Kurdistan Province and an active member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form workers’ Organizations, was freed on April 19, 2014. He has been arrested and prosecuted many times in the past number of years. The General as well as Revolutionary Courts in Sanandaj city originally sentenced Pedram to three years imprisonment in July 2012. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment for “acting against the Islamic Republic by working with one of the opposition parties”, which he absolutely denies, and in addition was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for being  “a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations”, which is not supposed to be a charge at all. After appealing the original sentences, the appeal court reduced his sentence to 19 months. In relation to the latest charges against him in 2012, PedramNasrollahiwas first arrestedon March 8, 2012 for 48 days; he waseventuallyreleasedon bailof 70 million toman. After his sentences had been reduced by the appeal court to 19 months, he went to the prosecutor’s office to further pursuehis case, on November 14, 2012, but he got arrested and sent to the prison.

 – According to the Amnesty International, Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Tehran Teachers’ Trade Associations, which is affiliated to Education International, was arrested in September 2009. A teacher for 20 years, he was sentenced to six years in prison for “propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding with intent to disturb national security”, both vaguely worded charges. In January 2011, the Appeal Court confirmed Rasoul Bodaghi’s sentence and banned him from taking part in any civil society activities for five years.

 Afshin Nadimi and Mehrdad Sabouri, both labour activists and members of the “Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations”, were sentenced to prison by Branch one of the Islamic Revolution Court in Sanandaj on December 25, 2013. This trial was conducted without the presence of lawyers and with no respect to any legal procedures. Afshin Nadimi was sentenced to five years imprisonment for membership in the Coordinating Committee and one year for propaganda against the system for a total of six years. The court also condemned Mehrdad Sabouri for four months for membership in the Coordinating Committee and another four months for propaganda against the system, for eight months in total. Both labour activists were transferred to Sanandaj’s prison for serving their prison sentences. However, after appealing these charges, the Appeal Court changed their sentences to one year imprisonment for Nadimi for “propaganda again the system” and four months jail for Mehrdad Sabouri for “propaganda against the system”. Other charges were dropped. Mehrdad Sabouri served four month jail and was subsequently freed on March 12, 2014; while Afshin Nadimi was temporarily released on 130 million toman bail on February 23, 2014 and has been awaiting the final verdict.

 There are many other labour activists across the country that continues to be persecuted and arrested on short-term basis; many cases go unreported.

 Sample Protest Letter below:

 I (we) are writing to protest against the unjust and continued persecution and incarceration of labour activists in Iran.

 ……………………

 I (we) strongly condemn the unjust arrest and sentences against labour activists. I (we) also denounce ongoing persecution and arrests of labour activists in Iran. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom all detained labour activists in Iran, including Reza Shahabi, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarahi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, and Rasoul Bodaghi.

 Name:

Organization/Position:

Please send your protests letters to:  info@leader.ir, info@judiciary.ir, iran@un.introuhani@csr.ir ; ijpr@iranjudiciary.org, info@dadiran.ir, office@justice.ir, support@irimlsa.ir; info@humanrights-iran.ir; avaei@Dadgostary-tehran.ir; bia.judi@yahoo.com; info@mlsa.ir; larijani@ipm.ir; 

Twitter: @khamenei_ir;  ‏@HassanRouhani

cc: info@workers-iran.org

 Protest letter by: U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) Sent: Monday, April 7, 2014 5:31:35 PM Subject: Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for Shahrokh Zamani’s life

 Dear Sirs: Mr. Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations has been on hunger strike since March 8, 2014.  He is reportedly incarcerated at Ghezel Hesar prison in the city of Karaj.  His health is in great jeopardy.  Shahrokh Zamani was originally arrested with Mr. Mohamad Jarahi in June of 2011.  Branch 1 of the Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Shahrokh Zamani to 11 years and Mohammad Jarahi to five years imprisonment after conviction on charges including “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the establishment”.   The “trial” did not meet international standards for a fair adjudication of the charges, and the charges themselves violate internationally recognized standards for freedom of association and expression and the right of workers to organize into a union of their choosing free of government interference, harassment or retaliation. I write on behalf of the 150 U.S. labor organizations that are affiliated with U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) to register our strongest objection to these violations of Shahrokh Zamani and Mohamad Jarahi’s basic human rights and their mistreatment while incarcerated.  In the interests of justice and in recognition of the threat posed by the deteriorating condition of Mr. Zamani’s health, we call upon you to immediate release them, to expunge their criminal records and to cease your government’s interference with their rights and internationally recognized standards for the right to organize, bargain and strike. Yours truly, Michael Eisenscher; National Coordinator U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) nationalcoordinator@uslaboragainstwar.org @USLAWLeader www.uslaboragainstwar.org

 About IASWI:  The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) was formed in 1999 and formally launched in January 2000. The IASWI has been working in collaboration with many labour and progressive organizations and activists in Iran and around the world to strengthen worker-to-worker solidarity in defence of workers’ rights, demands and struggles in Iran and against the repressive anti-worker policies and practices of Islamic Republic of Iran. IASWI is a fully independent organization and does not accept funding or resources from any governments or corporations and their affiliates. 

 

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