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Ahvaz steel workers condemn the arrest of their coworker and transformation of factory into a military complex

Demonstration by workers of Iran National Steel Industrial Group
Demonstration by workers of Iran National Steel Industrial Group

Reported by PMOI/MEK


Iran, Jan. 5, 2019 - The workers of the Iran National Steel Industrial Group condemned the brutal behavior of Iranian security forces and the arrest and torture of their colleagues in a statement.

In their statement, the workers stipulated that their factory has effectively become a military base, and they condemned the entrance of security forces into the complex and the threatening of the workers. Their statement reads:

Since the beginning of our protests in 2016, we’ve witnessed various events, including the summoning and threatening of activists by security authorities, arrests, prison, torture and preventing our colleagues from coming to work.

But these events haven’t prevented the noble workers of National Industrial Steel Group from pursuing their rights.

Presently, following the brutal and inhumane repression of our protests and the recent arrests and hostage-taking, the supporters of the mafia are after implementing other evil plans. They are taking advantage of the situation to enter military people from a specific organization into the company and are threatening and intimidating the workers. They want to pursue their next scenario, which is to shut down the National Industrial Steel Group forever.

Now, by gradually transforming INSIG from a production facility into a military base under the control of security and judiciary institutions, they think they can break the iron will of the workers.

Located in Ahvaz, Khuzestan, INSIG is one of Iran’s largest producers and exporters of steel products . In recent months, the steel workers of Ahvaz held demonstrations and strikes in protest to unpaid wages, job insecurity and the destructive policies of the factory’s management. The protesting workers often describe the company's director and the regime authorities that support them as the "mafia," a reference to their corrupt policies and practices.

The protests, which lasted more than a month, earned the steel workers the respect and solidarity of different segments and communities across Iran. In a deadlock to answer to the just demands of the workers and afraid that the ongoing protests might trigger similar strikes and demonstrations in other parts of the country, Iranian authorities ordered a crackdown on the steel workers.

In early December, Security forces stormed the houses of the Ahvaz workers in the middle of the night and arrested more than a dozen people in an attempt to intimidate the workers and dissuade them from continuing their strike. This is a situation that continues. The workers write:

Seven of our colleagues are still in prison. Meanwhile, authorities continue to summon and imprison more workers.

Yesterday, our colleague Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, one of the workers of Section One, was arrested and taken to prison just because he was protesting to the current situation and demanded the release of his coworkers.

Nonetheless, the steel workers of Ahvaz are determined to continue their protests and persist on their just demands. Part of their statement reads:

At first glance, it might seem that after our street protests were halted, our justice-seeking voices have been stifled. But rest assured that this isn’t the end of our struggle against tyranny and injustice and the mafia. By drawing lessons from the past and using the experience we’ve earned, we will soon return in full force.

Despite all the pressure and hard times we’ve been through, we the steel workers of Ahvaz are the victors of the battle.