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Iranian labor union warns against continued suppression of Ahvaz steel workers

Karim Siahi and Tariq Kholfi, Ahvaz steel workers, were released on bail
Karim Siahi and Tariq Kholfi, Ahvaz steel workers, were released on bail

Report by PMOI/MEK


Iran, Jan. 20, 2019 - On Saturday, the Free Union of Workers published a statement, in which it condemned the repressive conditions set against workers of Ahvaz who were recently release from prison on bail.

“The extraction of a 2.5-billion-rial bail from the families of Karim Siahi and Tariq Kholfi shows that wave of repression continues against the workers of Iran National Steel Industrial Group, who were demanding for their most basic rights during their 38-day strikes and streets protests,” the union wrote in its statement.

Siahi and Kholfi were among the representatives of the steel workers of Ahvaz who had been protesting against unpaid wages and poor working conditions. As the strikes and protests continued, the Iranian regime cracked down on the protesters and arrested several dozen workers during nightly raids at their homes. Siahi and Kholfi were finally released on Saturday afternoon.

The union also warned that the Iranian regime’s security apparatus plans to create false criminal files for the workers to continue to threaten them and prosecute them at its will. “With made up and vague criminal files, security institutions plan to keep the threat of judicial prosecution over the heads of the brave workers of this big industrial complex and force them to give in to tyranny and the trampling of their rights and salaries,” the union writes.

The Free Union of Workers demanded that all criminal charges be dropped against the 43 workers who were arrested in December.

“We thank all workers, teachers, retired government employees, students and other noble people who have joined us in this campaign to protest against the arrest and incarceration of the workers of INSIG. We once again reiterate our deepest solidarity with the just struggles of the steel workers of Ahvaz for their most basic and unalienable rights and will continue our strikes, protests and marches.”

The steel workers of Ahvaz are one of several labor communities who have been protesting for their rights. In tandem with the protests in Ahvaz, workers of Haft Tapeh, Iran’s largest sugar cane factory, held strikes and protests for similar reasons. Like the protests in Ahvaz, the Iranian regime’s response to the demands of the workers of Haft Tapeh was crackdowns, arrests and tortures. One of the workers of Haft Tapeh who was recently released from prison disclosed that he was brutally tortured during the weeks he spent in the Iranian regime’s prisons.