Letter from the Free Union of Iranian Workers to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Dear General Secretary Burrow,   all of these acts of repression against Iranian workers are committed because the Iranian government considers any union activity by workers, teachers and all wage earners to be a security threat.  It uses false security accusations to repress, arrest and imprison workers, teachers, the retirees and even the supporters of the Iranian working class. This type of brutal repression of workers by the government takes place while the government sends so-called “representatives”  of  workers to international gatherings  and presents a false picture of the situation of workers in Iran.   This government aims to prevent our voices from reaching you and other international labor and human rights organizations.

Letter from the Free Union of Iranian Workers to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Concerning the Iranian Government’s Treatment of Iranian Workers’ Union Activities as Security Threats:

From:  The Free Union of Iranian Workers

To:  International Trade Union Confederation

November 6, 2019

Dear Ms. Sharan Burrow,  Honorable General Secretary  of the International Confederation of Trade Unions:

We respectfully call your attention to the fact that Jafar Azimzadeh,  the president of the board of directors of the Free Union of Iranian Workers is currently serving a six-year prison term at the Evin Prison in Tehran.  Parvin Mohammadi,  vice-president of the union is on the verge of being arrested  to serve a one-year prison sentence.  Khalil Karimi, member of board of directors is imprisoned at the Sanandaj Prison.  Nahid Khodaju,  another member of the board of directors has been sentenced to six years in prison, 74 lashes and banned from joining any social organizations.   Shapur Ehsanirad,  another member of the board of directors has been sentenced to six years in prison and  two years of exile in a remote location.   Azam Khazri Javadi (Nasrin Javadi),  one of the members of the union has been sentenced to seven years in prison,  74 lashes and banned from joining social organization.   Legal proceedings have been opened  against several other members of our union,   Mehdi Fakhri,  Farhad Sheikihi,  Hadi Soleiman,   for their participation in the May Day 2019 gathering.

The assault by security forces and the judiciary on the members of the Free Union of Iranian Workers has been continuous since the union’s founding in 2004.  Many members of this labor organization have been arrested and prosecuted.  During the past year,  this assault and repression has become more extensive and wide-ranging.  Thus,  security forces and members of the judiciary have openly told arrested  union members that they will destroy this union.

The extent of repression and assaults on workers in Iran is not limited to the Free Union of Iranian Workers.  It includes all labor organizations and workers in various production centers and their supporters.

On May 1, 2019,  security forces assaulted the labor gathering in front of the parliament in Tehran and arrested more than 50 workers, retirees, and students.  Legal cases were started against all of them,  many of whom have now received heavy sentences.  We will name a few.  Atefeh Rangriz has received a sentence  of eleven years and six months in prison and 74 lashes.  Marzieh Amiri:  Ten years and six months in prison and 148 lashes.  Hassan Saidi:  five years in prison.  Rasul Taleb Moghaddam:  Two years in prison, 74 lashes and two years of exile.  Alireza Saghafi:  One year in prison.   Haleh Safarzadeh:  One year in prison.   In addition,  Neda Naji has been in detention for the past six months without any trial.

In the course of  strikes this year, several Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers and members of the editorial board of the journal,  Gam,  who published news about the Haft Tapeh workers,  were arrested.  After ten months of detention,  they were released temporarily on heavy bails.

Mohammad Khanifar and Esmail Bakhshi , Haft Tapeh workers,  were sentenced to six years and fourteen years in prison respectively.   Amir Hossein Mohammadi Fard, Sanaz Allahyari,  Amir Amir Gholi,  Assal Mohammadi and Sepideh Gholian from the Gam editorial board were each sentenced to eighteen years in prison.

Since last year,  more than 40 workers from the Ahvaz Steel Company,  more than 20 workers from the  Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Company and dozens of workers from Hepco and Azarab companies in Arak have been arrested and are  facing legal proceedings and possible prison sentences.

During the course of strikes in Ahvaz Steel, Hepco, Azarab and Haft Tapeh  which demanded unpaid wages and benefits,  Iran’s security forces brutally attacked workers and injured many of them.  They arrested many workers and released them after a while on heavy bails.

Dear General Secretary Burrow,   all of these acts of repression against Iranian workers are committed because the Iranian government considers any union activity by workers, teachers and all wage earners to be a security threat.  It uses false security accusations to repress, arrest and imprison workers, teachers, the retirees and even the supporters of the Iranian working class.

This type of brutal repression of workers by the government takes place while the government sends so-called “representatives”  of  workers to international gatherings  and presents a false picture of the situation of workers in Iran.   This government aims to prevent our voices from reaching you and other international labor and human rights organizations.

Thus,  we ask you to write to the Iranian authorities and demand that they stop treating labor union activities of workers and teachers as national security threats,  and release the imprisoned workers.   Please call on them to abolish all the prison sentences and judgments issued against workers and stop legal proceeding against them.

We also demand that you record the cases raised in this letter and other reports sent by us in previous correspondence,  as an official complaint to be registered by the International Labor Organization against the Iranian government for its open violations of workers’ human rights.

The Free Union of Iranian Workers is sending copies of this letter to other international labor unions and human rights organizations.

Free Union of Iranian Workers

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