In this issue: On the second round of strike by Bafgh miners

  • Lessons from Mineworkers’ Strike in Bafgh0000
  • Petition in support of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh
  • Statement of IASWI on the brutal attacks of the Israeli Government and the killing of the Palestinian people
  • A call from Gaza: Make Israel Accountable for its Crimes in Gaza
  • Updates on the imprisoned labour activists in Iran

 An update on the second round of strike by Bafgh miners:

Strikers return to work after protesting for two weeks, with disputed results

After ending their first round of strike Bafgh workers had given a grace period of two months to the company as a window of opportunity to satisfactorily resolve all remaining issues. But instead of resolving the remaining issues the mining company decided to press charges against the strikers with arrest warrants issued for 16 workers, resulting in arrest of several miners. Hence Bafgh miners had no option but to resume their protests. A new round of strikes at the mines began on August 19 over the arrests, and hundreds of miners, their family members and supporters participated in massive sit-ins at the Governor’s office protesting these arrests.

Faced with extensive, well publicized protests the mine company agreed to withdraw the charges against the striking miners, so the arrested workers could be released, but provincial security officials refused to release them. A spokesperson for Bafgh city council stated that the decision for release of workers was now in the hands of Yazd province’s security council. Even after provincial security officials agreed to free the workers their release was contingent upon posting of hefty bails. But all miners and their family members consistently refused to post any bail, because as they said “the detainees did not commit any crime to receive bail orders for their release.” There were conflicting reports that in the end some bails were actually posted.

Throughout this second round of strike Bafgh miners have enjoyed massive community support on local, national and international levels. Finally miners agreed to return to work based on promises that the plan for privatization of the remaining stock would be revoked, fifteen percent of company’s stock would be allocated to their municipality in the next four months and their arrested coworkers would be freed. On 3 September 2014 arrested workers were released, and miners returned to work.

But as soon as workers returned to work there were conflicting statements about fate of the remaining stocks. The head of Privatization Corporation Mr. Hossaini was quoted on 3 September 2014 saying: “71.5% of mine’s stock was sold last year as collateral for debts, and the remaining 28.5% were also sold this May.” He also emphasized that both these sales were final, legal and irreversible.

In dismissing Mr. Hossaini’s statement the political/security assistant to Yazd’s governor Mr. Talebi was quoted as saying: “In our meeting of August 30, 2014, which was also attended by other officials from Tehran, privatization of the remaining 28.5% stock was revoked, and that was the message we have been telling the workers.” He also criticized lack of coordination amongst various state agencies.

IASWI will keep you informed of all future development in Bafgh miners’ strike, through our web site and future issues of Bulletin.

  • Translated by Hoshang Tarehgol

Lessons from Mineworkers’ Strike in Bafgh

By Alireza Navaie (IASWI-Paris), Ayob Rahmani (IASWI-London)

Translated by Hoshang Tarehgol

Strike by miners of Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation on May 2014 was one of the largest and longest strikes in recent years. At the height of this strike five thousand workers continued to strike for thirty nine days. Workers returned to work only after they forced the government to rescind its original plan for total privatization of the mine, and officially announce a “temporary cancellation” of plans to sell Bafgh Mine stocks. Thus it could be said that workers have achieved a partial victory, partial since workers’ central demand for a definitive cancellation of privatization plans for this mine has not been achieved yet, but at the same time the state has not been able to carry out its plan either and because of workers courageous strike was forced to temporarily cancel privatization plans. Such a statue quo is fragile and precarious. In what follows we will look at the reason for this thirty nine days long strike, workers’ demands, reaction of central and local government officials to the strike, and the strike achievements and its lessons.

The reason for strike.

On 29 of April 2014 an announcement appeared on the web site of Privatization Corporation, stating that 28.5% of Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation, including ten millions and six hundred and ninety six shares with the total value of sixteen billion and seven hundred thirty eight million Rials (approximately sixty four million dollars) will be rewarded through “Farabourse Corp.” to the private sector. Two years ago 71.5% of Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation was awarded to the Retirement Fund of Khuzestan Steel Corp. On 9 May 2014 in reaction to this announcement and in opposition to selling of stocks and complete privatization of their company miners stopped working and went on strike. Keeping in mind the experiences of fellow workers in others sectors who had gone through privatization, miners were fully aware that selling of their company’s stock to the private sector will result in “structural adjustment” (a euphemism for layoffs), reduction of wages, job insecurity, work speed-up, and unsafe work conditions, hence they vehemently opposed selling of the stocks.

The strike was continued the next day. On the second day of strike 10 April, 2014, the first deputy to President quoted from Yazd province’s Lieutenant Governor, Es-haagh Jahangiry, that plans for selling of stocks were canceled. After this news was announced workers ended their strike and went back to work. But issues of privatization and selling of company’s stocks remained a concern and topic of discussions for many workers.

On 17 May 2014 about two thousand and five hundred workers resumed their strike and were demanding transparency and clarifications about issues of stock offering from the government. Future developments proved workers’ doubts about promises of government were correct. On 1 June 2014, fourteenth day of the strike, a web site belonging to Khuzestan Steel Corp. announced that Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation stocks were auctioned on 19 May 2014 and Khuzestan Steel had won the auction and purchased the stocks. After this announcement the strike was joined by more workers and developed new depths and scales turning into a unified strike by all workers, which at its height included five thousands workers.

Keeping in mind the central economic role Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation occupies in economics of that region, workers’ strike heavily influenced the entire social life of the Bafgh region. Bafgh city with a population of forty one thousands (according to 2012 census) is one of the most underdeveloped areas in Iran. About a thousand of city’s population works in the mine, and there are also three thousand retired miners. City’s population is predominantly working class and working conditions of mine and all related matters greatly affects their circumstances. In addition environmental damages due to unsustainable extraction and utilization of mines have greatly damaged the quality of life for miners, their families and all residents of that area. Violation of environmental protection standards have led to immense pollution of air and water in that region and is greatly threatening the health of its inhabitants. According to a striking worker, the level of environmental pollution in their air is so high that some doctors have stopped taking donations of blood for medical purposes from city’s residents.

Because of mines occupying such a central economic role in livelihood of the region and as a source of high profits, city and regional officials took great interest in miners’ strike and were responsive to it.

Reaction of the local officials

It should be obvious that both city and state officials, as government functionaries were generally opposed to workers’ strike protesting state’s economic policies. But once the local officials had to face striking miners and could not prevent the strike, in coordination with central government, they attempted to end the strike as soon as possible and send workers back to mines. At the same time they also tried to use the strike as a point of leverage to allocate more shares of profits to themselves, in competition against “non-indigenous” capitalist firms. Because of such competing interests amongst the local and national firms, besides the central demand of miners for cancellation of selling Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation stocks, local officials also raised demands about selling of stocks to local cooperatives, creation of auxiliary industries, and allocation of some profits for development of the region, thus attempting to derail miners’ strike.

Undoubtedly if the striking miners’ demands were focused on these other projects the end result would have been a defeat of the strike, since there are no local cooperatives to speak of and selling of stocks to local concerns is also the same process of privatization only under a different title. If such scenarios were followed in a matter of time most of the shares would have ended up, concentrated in the hands of a few individual capitalists, or big private firms.

In the same manner the demands for creation of metallurgic industries in the region didn’t have anything to do with interests of the interests of the miners either. Investment projects of the government and capitalist don’t have anything to do with workers. In other words, the main problem for workers is not lack of investments in the region, but how the already existing investments, the current extraction of profits are severely exploiting workers, with zero regards for workers’ rights, and welfare of workers’ families. The growing environmental crisis and unsustainable utilization of natural resources need to be added to the list of current problems in that region. Thus what needs to change are not investment policies but a substantial changes in the working and living conditions.

But the idea of allocating a certain percentage of mines profits towards improvement in health, education and other social services of the region (and not this general notion of “regional development” which is very vague and misleading) is a matter that should be paid attention to by miners. What need to be emphasized by workers and clarified in this regard is how workers’ representatives themselves have to decide as to the specifics of such allocations and monitor the entire process from beginning to the end, otherwise all such efforts will only result in local officials controlling more financial resources. These local officials are not accountable to the people or workers but are appointed by, work for and are accountable to the central government.

Despite all efforts of city and province officials to quickly end the strike, and derailing miners’ demands and using the strike as an instrument to promote their own interests, the miners maintained their central demand for e revocation of selling of Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation stocks, and went on with their strike for thirty nine days.

How the strike ended, it achievements and lessons.

After thirty nine days of strike, the state finally caved in to miners’ demands. In the end Mohamad Mirmohammadi the governor himself, and not his assistance, showed up in front of striking miners, and showed them a letter signed by both Yazd province Lieutenant governor Es-haagh Jahangiry and Ali Taiebnia, Minister of Economics and Finance, stating a “temporary halt” to auctioning of 28.5% of Bafgh Iron Ore Central Corporation stocks. The letter also stated that the final decision will be made by Yazd Governor himself. Once these promises were made by the state, the miners decided to go back to work and end their strike.

Such a reaction from the state undeniably meant a partial victory for strikers. In some reports and analysis this retreat by the government is considered as a definite and total victory. But such an interpretation is overtly optimistic and incorrect. If Bafgh workers have such a take and interpretation form their strike, believe they’ve reached final victory, and remain stand inactive, such conclusions could seriously damage them and generally lead to a defeat of their struggle against privatization of their mine.

As it was also stated in the joint letter of Yazd’s Lieutenant Governor and Minister of Economics and Finance, the state has only put a temporarily halt to the selling of stocks (Miners have given the government two months to permanently revoke auctioning of the stocks). Furthermore that state has not even agreed to come into negotiations or an agreement with workers’ representatives on this matter, but has stated that the final decision will be decided by Yazd Governor, in other words the state will decide ultimate resolution. All this indicates that the state is just buying time to once again organize another auction in the future. It could be presumed that since the since the last day of the strike, or even before announcing their retreat, central government in coordination with local officials have been planning on organizing another auction, through other means, and probably have contingency plans and designs as how to confront workers’ responses. Under such circumstances there’s nothing more harmful for Bafgh workers than to consider their work done and optimistically consider hitherto achievements of the strike as a total and definitive victory, and inactively waiting for the decision of central government and local officials.

The thirty nine days long strike undoubtedly has increased solidarity amongst all workers, and they are more aware of the central importance of collective action and coordination, and have learned how they are able to push back the management and the state through their collective struggle. Now it is necessary for them to evaluate their courageous strike, its achievements, and decide on how to respond to future policies of the state, which in all likelihoods will be in opposition to workers’ demands. They need to discuss these issues and be prepared to respond. Currently in a post-strike situation, workers have much more opportunities and chances, compared to pre-strike period, to organize assemblies, meetings and consultations, and decide their future path through collective intellect and wisdom. In this regard clarification and transparency of demands is very crucial and significant. Permanent revocation of privatization under any form or disguise (be it through an outside firm, or selling it to the local population) must still be the central demand and emphasized. In addition and concurrent with this central demand, other demands that were raised during the strike should also be clearly and specifically be included in the list of demands such as: classification of hazardous jobs, increased work safety, cancellation of all temporary work contracts, guarantees for job security, management’s abidance to standards regarding environmental protection. These are some of the demands that need to be clearly and transparently raised and struggled to be achieved.

Petition: Free Behnam Ebrahimzadeh

http://chn.ge/1peBlkr

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was on hunger strike from August 9 to September 3rd, 2014. After going on dry hunger strike on September 1st, Behnam was transferred to ward 12 of Rajaee Shahr Prison (a section for political prisoners) and thus he agreed to end his hunger strike.

The Iranian labour activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations and a Children’s Rights advocate, has been incarcerated since June 2010.  In the infamous attack of the security forces on Evin prison’s ward 350 on April 17, 2014, Behnam was also targeted, physically attacked, and sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 for interrogations. He was brought up on new charges and was forbidden from any visitation. 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 for 54 days and was transferred back to the general ward of Evin on June 17, 2014.

Behnam’s family has also been targeted. On Saturday, June 29, 2014, Behnam’s wife and son arrived at Evin prison and in the end of their visitation, six security agents in civilian clothing hold them hostage, took them back to their house, raided their residence, confiscated and taken away all of their belongings. Security forces pressured Behnam’s fifteen years old son, Nima, who is afflicted with Leukemia, to hand over all of his father’s documents including the flash drives. During the attack Behnam’s wife and son were also interrogated and threatened repeatedly.

Following the raid, the prison authorities once again without any legal justification or court order transferred Behnam to the ward 209 of Evin prison, in which led to Behnam’s decision to go on hunger strike on August 9, 2014. Instead of taking Behnam grievances into consideration, the authorities transferred Behnam to a section for highly dangerous inmates at Rajaee Shahr’s prison (formerly known as Gohardasht). He has been on a hunger strike since then. *

Behnam has recently received a new charge of causing unrest in his prison and that can be used as a pretext to issue a new sentence against him.

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh demands to be returned to ward 350 (his previous ward in Evin Prison) and to receive the medical treatment he needs. Behnam suffers from severe headaches, kidney, and intestine problems.

Behnam’s health is rapidly deteriorating and he has been taken to the prison’s hospital on August 26 and there he was threatened by the prison’s authorities that if he does not end his hunger strike, he would be transferred to solitary confinement. Due to the pressure that Behnam is gravely under, he has announced that if his demands and needs are not going to be met by September 1, 2014, he would declare a dry hunger strike.

The Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh Defense Committee lasvihave strongly condemned this inhuman treatment of Behnam and his family. His wife Zobeideh Hajizadeh and son, Nima Ebrahimzadeh, in an open letter addressed to workers’ organizations, Amnesty International, and other concerned individuals and organizations, have pleaded for international support to help free Behnam Ebrahimzadeh.

IASWI strongly condemns these acts of violence towards labour activists and their family members in Iran. As we have emphasized previously, this is part of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to maximize pressures on jailed labour activists, their colleagues and family members in order to make their voices silent and continue with the oppression of the working class movement in Iran.

Please demand immediate and unconditional release of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh by signing this petition.

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

August 29, 2014

 .  The petition has been supported by about 400 labour, political and human rights activists. 

 Statement of the International Alliance In Support of Workers in Iran on the brutal attacks of the Israeli Government and the killing of the Palestinian people

International Alliance in support of Workers in Iran strongly condemns the massacre of the Palestinian people by the Israeli regime

(See below the September 5th call from Gaza: Make Israel Accountable for its Crimes in Gaza)

 The workers’ organizations and independent civil and human rights organizations in Palestine, including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, University Teachers’ Association in Palestine, General Union of Palestinian Women, General Union of Palestine Workers, General Union for Agricultural Workers, General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers, Union of Women’s Work Committees, Union of Women’s Struggle Committees, Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), and several other organizations in a joint and well extended statement on 12 July 2014, have announced “We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account”( http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/1009.php#continue).

To this date, about 200 Palestinians, as the result of more than 1,200 Israeli troops’ air strikes, have been killed. More than 1,000 people have been wounded, reportedly about three-fourth of them are women, children, ordinary people, and civilians. According to reports received, Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel so far have left one dead. We strongly condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and generally view Hamas as a reactionary trend. But the bloody and the naked truth is that the genocide of the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupying regime has not begun with Hamas and on the pretext of its rocket attacks. The Israeli regime was formed from the very beginning with the massacre of the Palestinian people and the occupation of their territories. The history of this racist and repressive regime is the history of continuous occupation of the Palestinian territories, the massacre of Palestinians with or without any pretexts, repression of the most basic Palestinian people’s human rights, and in General it has been the history of killing, destruction, and crimes against the Palestinian people. The bloody and criminal siege of the Gaza Strip and now the bombardment and the killing of the people for the pretext of Hamas rocket firings is the continuing policy of the genocide of the Palestinians by the criminal Israeli regime. The global capitalist governments, and the United States as the hegemonic power, are equally responsible for the continued killing of the Palestine people, violation of their human rights, and in continuation and advancement of the policy of apartheid by the Israeli Government.

These massacres must be stopped; the voice of the people of conscience, labour organizations, progressive organizations and institutions, and the declaration of solidarity with the working class and the disadvantaged people of Palestine must reverberate in  four corners of the world against the crimes of the Israeli regime.

As we have declared in our previous statements surrounding the issue of Palestine, the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI), as a campaign in support of the struggles and the rights of the working class in Iran, is a staunch defender and propagator of full independence of the labour organizations from all governments and the capitalist forces not only in Iran but throughout the world. The IASWI considers its efforts for the working class international unity and self-determination to be its prime responsibility. We strongly condemn the mascara of the people of Gaza by the oppressive regime of Israel and at the same time pronounce our solidarity with the working class, workers’ organizations, and progressive forces in Palestine. We believe that, as part of the Middle East and the global working class, we need to increase our efforts more than ever in creating a powerful working class solidarity movement against the entire capitalist system; such international solidarity can help with achieving progressive and advanced social changes and the possibility of bringing about a real and lasting peace that serves the interests of the working-class and the deprived people.

International Alliance in support of workers in Iran (IASWI)

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

15 July 2014

 A call from Gaza: Make Israel Accountable for its Crimes in Gaza – Intensify BDS!akall

September 5, 2014: From the ruins of our towns and cities in Gaza, we send our heartfelt appreciation to all those who stood with us and mobilized during the latest Israeli massacre. In the occupied West Bank, Israel has embarked on one of its largest illegal land grabs in decades by confiscating another 1000 acres of Palestinian land to expand its illegal colonies. Now, our battle to hold Israel accountable for its fresh war crimes and crimes against humanity has begun. The outcome of this battle to end Israeli impunity will determine whether Israel’s latest assault will be yet another stage in Israel’s “incremental genocide” of Palestinians or the turning point that will bring an end to Israel’s status as an entity above the law—the world’s dangerous pariah. The outcome of this battle depends on you.

Two months after its 2008-09 massacre in Gaza, Israel’s prize was an upgrade in trade relations with the European Union. By 2012, western powers in cooperation with the UN Secretary General had effectively prevented all investigation by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel committed during the attack.

During the most recent massacre, on August 2nd 2014, three days after the occupation forces bombed the designated UN humanitarian shelter in Jabalya refugee camp, killing 20 civilians and wounding at least 150 people as they slept, the US Congress approved $225 million in additional military aid to Israel. The following day, the occupation forces bombed another UN shelter in Rafah killing ten civilians and injuring dozens. Also during the massacre, Germany sold Israel an attack submarine with nuclear capability, and Britain refused to freeze its arms sales to Israel. These and other forms of criminal complicity from world governments and official bodies pave the way for Israel’s ongoing genocidal attacks. It is up to people of conscience and all those who seek peace with justice worldwide to make sure this complicity ends now.

We urge you to stand with the Palestinian people in its entirety and to demand that Israel be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity it has committed and continues to commit against the Palestinian people everywhere. We urge you to intensify boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns to further isolate Israel economically, militarily, academically and culturally.

Intensify BDS against Israel in all fields, including by taking the following actions:

  1. Working to have arrest warrants issued against Israeli war criminals and for them to be tried before your courts.
  2. Pressuring governments to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel.
  3. Pressuring governments to suspend all free trade and bilateral agreements with Israel until it complies with international law.
  4. Building effective direct action against Israel and Israeli companies, such as the inspiring Block the Boat actionsthat prevented Israeli ships from unloading in California and Seattle, and the occupations of Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems’ factories in the UKand Australia.
  5. Working within trade unions to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of oppression and engaging in effective BDS measures such as stopping handling of Israeli goods, divesting trade union funds from Israel and complicit companies, and boycotting complicit Israel trade unions. The trade union movement has a proud history of successful campaigning against apartheid in South Africa, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined Palestinian trade unions in calling for trade union action to end Israel’s impunity.
  6. Holding to account those corporations and retailers that support and profit from Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, including by boycotting their products and taking creative and direct action. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has suggested a list of corporate criminals to target: http://www.bdsmovement.net/make-an-impact.

The majority of the world’s people are waking up to the reality of Israel’s rogue regime of oppression and racism. For the rest of what is supposed to be the International year of solidarity with the Palestinian people, demand an end to Israel’s criminal impunity. Stand with Gaza, and act for freedom, justice and peace in Palestine.

Issued  the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) and the following Gaza organizations/unions:

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions University Teachers’ Association in Palestine Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (Umbrella for 133 orgs) Medical Democratic Assembly General Union of Palestine Workers General Union for Health Services Workers General Union for Public Services Workers General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers General Union for Agricultural Workers Union of Women’s Work Committees Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum) Herak Youth Movement Union of Women’s Struggle Committees Union of Synergies—Women Unit Union of Palestinian Women Committees Women’s Studies Society Working Woman’s Society Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel Gaza BDS Working Group One Democratic State Group

Updates on the situation of imprisoned labour activists in Iran, as of September 15, 2014 (Prepared by IASWI):

 – Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer and Executive Board member of the Syndicate of workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, known as “Vahed Syndicate”, has been imprisoned since June 2010. He was brutally attacked and beaten during his arrest and interrogations, and severely suffered both physically and psychologically. He spent 19 months in solitary confinement, and during this time his family was not informed of his situation .He has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment (combined), banned for five years from any trade union activities, and a fine of 7,500,000 Toman, in which is (the equivalent of about US $3000), on the vague charges of “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security”. As the result of enduring psychological and physical abuses, he now suffers from multiple illnesses, including severe neck and back pain associated with disc herniation, numbness of feet and hands, liver and kidney complications, decaying of his lower vertebrates, heart issues, and etc.

Reza Shahabi underwent cervical spine surgery on July 24, 2012, and he was transferred to Evin person shortly after, without being allowed to be healed from his surgery. He was temporarily released on bail on January 7, 2013, after a three week hunger strike, demanding to receive medical treatments outside of the jail. Once again, despite his needs for further treatments, he was forced to return to jail on April 15, 2013. On October 19, 2013, Reza Shahabi once again was transferred to a hospital due to numbness of his left foot and severe back pain. It was recommended again by his doctors that he had to receive hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison and that without appropriate treatment his entire left side could be paralyzed. Nevertheless, the authorities have denied all these recommendations.

Reza Shahabi went on hunger strike on June 1st, 2014 in protest against his sudden/unannounced transfer from Section 350 of Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajaee Shahr Prison in City of Karaj, where according to various reports including Amnesty International’s latest statement “political prisoners and convicted criminal offenders, including violent offenders, are frequently held together”. His family has had hard time visiting him and medical and other facilities are even worse than Evin prison. In addition, the interrogator threatened to open a new case against Reza Shahabi on June 1, 2014, after he was exiled to Rajaie Shahr prison.  Shahabi’s health deteriorated significantly since his hunger strike; he lost more than 15 Kg since the start of his hunger strike.

Reza agreed to end his hunger strike after 50 days following his transfer to the Imam Khomeini Hospital and promises made by Mr. Khodabakhshi, the representative of Tehran’s Prosecutor. They agreed to facilitate Reza’s medical treatments in the hospital and considering a medical leave following his operation. Reza thanked all friends, families, colleagues in Iran and internationally for their support and ended his hunger strike on July 20, 2014. He underwent a radical surgery in his lumber area on September 2, 2014. He is still under medical supervision in the hospital.

 –  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, 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 Gohardasht 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 Gohardasht 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 Gohardasht 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.  In the infamous attack of the security forces on Evin prison’s ward 350 on April 17, 2014, Behnam was also targeted, physically attacked, and sent to solitary confinement in ward 209 for interrogations. He was brought up on new charges and was forbidden from any visitation. 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 for 54 days and was transferred back to the general ward of Evin on June 17, 2014. Following the raid, the prison authorities once again without any legal justification or court order transferred Behnam to the ward 209 of Evin prison, in which led to Behnam’s decision to go on hunger strike on August 9, 2014. Instead of taking Behnam grievances into consideration, the authorities transferred Behnam to a section for highly dangerous inmates at Rajaee Shahr’s prison (formerly known as Gohardasht). After going on dry hunger strike on September 1st, Behnam was transferred to ward 12 of Rajaee Shahr Prison (a section for political prisoners) and thus he agreed to end his hunger strike.

– 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.

 Many other labour activists across the country are being persecuted and arrested and facing legal battles and have been charged with various sham charges.

According to the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers Organizations, Court of Appeals of West Azerbaijan province has confirmed the lower court rulings against five labor activist and member of the Coordinating Committee. According to the coordinating committee, Jamal Minashiri and Hadi Tanomand, each three and a half years in prison, and Ghasem Mosatafapour, Ebrahim Mosatafapour and Mohammad Karimi were each sentenced to two years in prison.

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