Campaign intensifies to free Iranian trade unionists

The UK-based Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) has called upon the labor and trade movement internationally to take urgent action in defense of Iranian workers and trade unionists who are engaged in a difficult struggle for better pay and conditions of work.

CODIR says it regards the current period as an important opportunity to put effective pressure on the government of President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last year on a promise of reform inside Iran. Since his election Rouhani has tried to show a different face internationally, resulting in the interim agreement on nuclear inspections.

However, the organization says it is essential to make sure that Rouhani’s declared willingness to reform is tested on the domestic front too, where there has been insignificant movement on the question of human rights, respect for basic trade union rights and the freeing of political prisoners.

In stepping up the campaign for trade union rights in Iran, CODIR Assistant General Secretary Jamshid Ahmadi stressed the need for the New Year to be a new beginning for the people of Iran.

“We must do everything in our power to make sure that all imprisoned trade unionists in Iran are released without any delay. They have done nothing but call for their rights to be respected,” he said. “As we celebrate the dawn of 2014, those supporting Iranian trade unions must push to get the Iranian government to positively respond to their demands, for better pay and conditions and for trade union rights. We call on the government of Iran to enact ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining) without delay.”

A recent call by three detained trade union activists, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi from Gohardasht prison and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, in ward 350 of the notorious Evin Prison, reached CODIR in the early hours of the New Year, describing wages of Iranian workers as being below the poverty line and stating that the regime has condemned workers to humiliation, poverty and deprivation.

Six months after the presidential election in which Hassan Rouhani was elected on a platform of heralding a new era of respect for human and democratic rights, nothing has changed noticeably for the people of Iran. The economy continues to struggle under the weight of economic sanctions. The regime’s economic policy has brought more factory closures, unemployment, unpaid wages and poverty pay.

CODIR is also making a special appeal to all trade union organizations internationally to appeal to President Rouhani to release jailed trade unionists Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi from prison so that they can receive essential medical attention for ongoing conditions.

“The statement we have received from inside Iran rightly asks, ‘Why should these men remain in jail to suffer?’ and ‘To whom would they be a threat outside of prison?'” said Ahmadi. “Many suffer at the hands of the Iranian government but the cases of Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi, show the darkest side of this regime.”

CODIR calls on all concerned organizations and individuals to write to the Iranian authorities asking them to release all detained trade union activists and leaders and in particular Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi.

Appeals should be sent to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @khamenei_ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Photo: Human Rights and Democracy International


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.