13 Labor Activists Summoned in Iran Ahead of International Labor Day
A week before International Labor Day, when labor rights groups typically hold demonstrations around the world, at least 13 labor activists have been summoned in Iran’s Western provinces of Khuzestan and Kurdistan, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
“It happens every year before May 1, International Labor Day,” a labor activist in Kurdistan Province told CHRI. “They summon activists who have previous arrest records and threaten those who don’t have any records.”
The activist spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivities in Iran regarding speaking to foreign media outlets.
Iran’s Constitution allows citizens to hold peaceful gatherings but state forces typically launch crackdowns on labor rights activist ahead of International Labor Day.
Labor activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.
The workers union at the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Company in Khuzestan issued a statement on April 24 revealing that eight activists had been summoned on the charge of “disturbing public order” based on a complaint by the company’s management department.
The union identified the workers as Abdolrahim Bashagh, Esmail Bakhshi, Keramat Pam, Jalil Ahmadi, Hassan Fazeli, Hossein Hamdani, Adel Samaein and Rostam Abdollahzadeh.
The statement added that six of the men had been released on bail until their trial while Adel Samaein and Rostam Abdollahzadeh had been cleared of the charges.
Workers at the plant, the largest of its kind in the country, have been protesting for more than a year against delayed or unpaid salaries and benefits.
But workers have been summoned in other parts of the country as well.
Labor rights activists Sharif Saedpanah, Habibollah Karimi, Ghaleb Hosseini, Khaled Hosseini and Mozaffar Salehnia have been summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, according to a statement by the Iranian Coordination Committee to Assist the Formation of Labor Organizations on April 24.
They are due to go on trial on April 28, 2018, on charges including “organizing and attending protest rallies.”