By Paul Hampton
The theocratic regime is stepping up repression in an attempt to quell the burgeoning workers’ movement in Iran.
Last week an appeal court passed sentence on four leaders of the Saqqez protests in Iranian Kurdistan in May 2004, which marked a turning point for the new movement.
On 13 April the Kurdistan Court of Appeal sentenced Mahmoud Salehi to one year in prison, effective immediately with three years suspended. The court also confirmed two years imprisonment for Mohsen Hakimi, Jalal Hosseini and Borhan Divargar, but suspended the sentences for three years. The three were told that if they commit any illegal acts over the next three years, they would face trial and will have to serve their two years suspended sentence immediately.
On May Day 2004 dozens of labour activists were arrested for attempting to organise a May Day rally in Saqqez. Seven of them (becoming known as the “Saqqez seven”) were charged with a variety of crimes. Salehi was accused of supporting the Worker-communist Party of Iran and other organisations, forming an illegal workers’ committee, issuing a statement condemning the government for the killing of Khatoonabad workers [see previous Solidarity], acts against national security, taking part in an "illegal gathering" and so on.
Workers’ organisations in Iran, such as the Co-operation Council of Labour Organisations and Activists, as well as exile organisations and global trade unions, are demanding Salehi’s release.
A week earlier more teachers were imprisoned. On 8 April about 45 teachers of the province of Hamadan were arrested, most at the office of the teachers’Ý Trade Association of Hamadan. The Teachers’ Trade Association of Hamadan is a member of the umbrella group, the Coordinated Council of Teachers’Ý Trade Organisations, which includes over 30 teachers’ organisations across Iran.
The Coordinated Council has voted to continue with protests at the charges against teachers following the 14 March. The teachers arrested last month for protesting in front of parliament have apparently been released on heavy bail, but still face numerous charges including plotting to hold illegal gatherings and failure to comply with police order.
The Coordinated Council has decided that its supporters will not teach classes on 15-16 April and strike again on 29 April. It plans to hold a rally outside the Iranian parliament in Tehran on 8 May.
Reports on Iranian workers’ movement
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI), based in Canada
Iranian Workers’ Bulletin
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network