Iranian Gold Miners Lashed for Protesting Layoffs
Seventeen miners in northwestern Iran have been lashed on orders of the Judiciary after their employer sued them for protesting the firing of hundreds of their colleagues, the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported on May 25, 2016.
In December 2014, miners at the Agh Darreh gold mine in West Azerbaijan Province protested in front of the mine’s guard station after 350 miners were laid off. Pouya Zarkan, the company that operates the mine, filed a complaint and 17 of the miners were summoned to court.
The miners were sentenced to between 30 to 100 lashes each and fined up to five million rials ($164 USD) based on two separate court rulings made in the city of Takab, according to their lawyer Vahid Yari, who represented all 17 miners.
The United Nations has declared lashing a cruel and inhuman punishment tantamount to torture.
In the first court case, according to Yari, eight miners were accused of “preventing people from conducting business by brawling and creating noise,” “insulting the company guard,” “destroying the guard’s clothes and detaining him illegally,” and “deliberate destruction of the company’s sign.”
In the second case, nine miners were accused of “preventing people from conducting business by brawling and creating noise.”
In 2014 three of the workers who were fired by Pouya Zarkan attempted to commit suicide, but survived after being hospitalized, according to ILNA.
“I have been a seasonal worker with minimum wages at this mine for a few years,” one of the miners who tried to take his own life told Eghtesad News on January 3, 2015.
“Neither I nor the other workers have felt good about knowing we could be fired at any time,” he said. “When I realized that no one cares about my job and my family’s fate, I decided to end my life.”
Independent unions are not allowed to function in Iran, workers are routinely fired and risk arrest for striking, and labor leaders are prosecuted under national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.