19 Labour Activists Detained in Iran
By Staff Writer
Angry workers from the Haft Tappeh Sugar Mill gathered for a sit–in at Shush’s central court today to demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues.
At least 19 labour activists were detained on Sunday, November 18, following a two-week strike in protest at unpaid wages and the privatization of the company.
The Haft Tappeh Sugar Mill Workers’ Union released a statement on Sunday that revealed that 19 workers were detained because of their peaceful protests and indentified them by name. It also said that the families of the detainees were heavily concerned about their loved ones and were demanding their immediate release.
One of the most prominent of those arrested is labour activist Ismael Bakhshi, who little speech decrying the government for pointing guns at unarmed protesters is making the rounds on social media.
In it, he said: “We are angry but instead of carrying out specific measures, they bring in riot police and the filthy Seda and Sima (state TV) and film the clashes and say that they (the workers) are seditionists.” They only lie instead of solving the problem. The governor and Minister say that this (Haft Tappeh) company was bankrupt even though they embezzled it themselves. Even if they pay our wages, the strike will continue while the company is privatized.”
The privatization of the factory in 2015 has largely worsened the conditions for workers, while increasing profits for the already rich director, who has fled the country since protests began.
The other names of the arrested are Mosslim Armand, Pouya Bashmeh, Saeid Mansouri, Jalil Ahmadi, Asim Sorkheh, Mehdi Davoudi, Saeid Alkasir, Alizadeh, Omid Azadi, Samir Ahmadi, Salamat Nia, Emad Kasir, Mahmoud Sa’di, and Mohammad Khanifar.
During yesterday’s strike, up to three busloads of security forces tried to prevent the gathering of thousands of workers and their families by closing the gates to the factory and locking the strikers inside, but were unable to suppress the protest.
In videos on social media, crowds can be heard chanting, “Down with tyrants, viva workers”, "Our problems would be solved if there was one less instance of corruption", and "Down with oppressors, hail to workers. Down with Rouhani".
The previous day, the state security forces had become violent, with one worker reporting that 12 agents had attacked him and broken his hand.
Support for workers
Also on strike and showing support to the Haft Tappeh Sugar Mill workers are the Iran National Steel Industry Group (INSIG) workers in Ahvaz and merchants and shop owners in the Shush Bazaar.
Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, said: "[Shush] has risen with the cries of workers, and solidarity and strike of youth, teachers and merchants of bazaar. The enemy attempts in vain to silence the Haft Tappeh deprived workers by suppressing and arresting them, but the cry of "we are hungry, hungry" of the children of Shush, calls the conscience of every human being to rise up against the oppressor mullahs.”