Letter from Shahrokh Zamani in prison

Shahrokh Zamani’s statement from jail

To the labour organisations of Iran and the world

For us workers the solution is internationalist unity.

There is intensification of exploitation, discrimination and arrogance, injustice and violation of legal rights against the Iranian working class.
Accept my warm greetings from Rejai Shahr prison. I, Shahrokh Zamani, am a member of the re-launch committee of the Tehran Painters’ Union, and a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations.

Along with other imprisoned labour activists like Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Mohammad Jarrahi, I have been condemned merely for legitimate and legal defence of the right to found independent organisations and the right to strike, that are officially recognised throughout the world, and in defence of wages that match inflation, job security, unemployment and health insurance, pensions, and a labour law that guarantees the basic rights of the 50 million members of Iran’s workers’ households.

For these, I was arrested by the anti-worker Islamic Republic, and without any trial in the medieval kangaroo courts, given the heavy sentence of 11 years in prison.

The intensification of exploitation is on the rise, with wages fixed at a quarter below the poverty line, the prevalence of temporary and unsigned contracts, the absolute enslavement of workers and the destruction of job security; the importing of shoddy goods by the mafia of wealth and power and the complete destruction of employment and production and making millions unemployed, scrapping subsidies of essential supplies and energy and the astronomical price rises, privatisation — or handing over to family — and basing all areas of health, education, sports and public services on money; the elimination and destruction of all social security protective laws, including labour laws. As a result of these anti-people policies, 80% of Tehran’s population live below the poverty line, 75% of industrial production has been destroyed and unemployment stands at 43%, ranking second highest in the world, the highest housing costs in the world, 11 million illiterate people, and the highest rate of divorce, addiction and depression in the world, that put 14 million workers with their 50 million household members in a state of slow death.

In such a miserable situation, with no control from below by workers’ or people’s organisations and the banning of the slightest freedoms of speech, press and parties, the ruling sponger and middleman class, ranked 144th out of 157 countries of the world for bribery, has increased the scale of open looting and stealing of the national wealth to disastrous levels. The theft includes 3 billion tomans ($1,088,730) from the banks, 1860 billion tomans ($675,504,000) in the copper industry, tens of billions in the Shahid (Martyr) Foundation and 70 billion in Iran Insurance, 6 billion Asaluyeh. And in broad daylight, public robbery by 600 members of the ruling wealth and power mafia, who pocketed 150 trillion tomans, which is a quarter of the country’s banks’ liquidity and they have no intention of giving any of it back.

Or Mortazavi, the butcher of Kahrizak, has received 65 million tomans, which is equivalent to the monthly wage of 100 workers, and the very same person has given the four managers of Social Provision 2.7 billion tomans bonus. Meanwhile, just this year, 300,000 of workers’ children were not able to go to school because of penury. But most of these people, without the slightest questioning and serious prosecution, are free to roam or even in power. And the smallest organisation, strikes, protests and workers’ complaint aimed at the government leads to prison sentences and the rulers’ recklessness. For example, the workers’ complaints about wages that are even lower than that which is stipulated in law, which was rejected by the Labour Supreme Court; cancellation of workers’ unemployment insurance by the Guardian Council; or abolishing the construction workers’ insurance by the Islamic Councils’ Assembly. These are just a few examples.

The repressive government of the Islamic Republic, to continue and preserve the paradise of the ruling billionaire government leeches and to prevent workers’ strikes, has established armed security and basij (mobilisation) forces in the big workers’ centres like vehicle manufacturing and oil and petrochemicals, has turned these workers’ areas into barracks. The slightest resistance and struggle for the most natural human rights lead to suppression, dismissal, arrest and imprisonment as a response.

Even yellow government organisations are not allowed to be active in major productioncentres. There isn’t one independent organisation, or labour leader and activist,who has not endured hunger, torture and imprisonmentby the Islamic Republic. Workers’ committees that have been subject to theseverestoppression, persecution,arrestsandimprisonments, include the Co-ordination Committee, the Committee to Pursue, the Free Union, the trade unions of Vahed, painters, Haft Tapeh and bakers.

Despite all these repressive policies, the working class of Iran continues to struggle with 5 to 8 strikes a day. But in the absence of stable, class and national organisations, i.e., general trade unions and political parties, workers’ spontaneous movements are without any programme, remaining isolated and scattered, and in the face of the general repressive policies of Iran’s capitalist government cannot be unified into united class resistance and struggle. Therefore the founding of stable and general workers’ organisations in Iran is necessary in order to get rid of this misery, and more essential that supper.

Friends and comrades, workers of the world and the region, especially Turkey, the Arab countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan; the dependent, parasitic and middleman capitalism of Iran, as an overseer and partner of the transnational capitalist countries in the engineering, electronics, and other sectors, in order to supply cheap labour and raw materials, implements the neoliberal policies of global capitalism, including the IMF, to the letter. As part of global capitalism it exploits workers. The Iranian working class, with 50 million household members, as a battalion of the world’s 2.5 billion workers, must in unity and accord with its brothers and sisters throughout the world, have a common and united programme, policy and strategy against the intensification of exploitation during the structural crisis of capitalism and the attempt to make toilers shoulder the burden of the crisis in the region and the world. Just as capitalism makes plans on a world scale and acts nationally and regionally, we must also, with internationalist unity and posing cases of co-ordination and planning, confront and resist nationally, regionally and globally and force them to retreat.

I also thank you for the support, compassion and selfless assistance in support of the Iranian labour movement, especially condemnation of the brutal repression of activists who have been arrested and sentenced by the Islamic Republic, and ask that you continue your internationalist and fraternal support and effort. I suggest that with joint effort centres of common organisation of global and regional, especially in Turkey, the Arabic countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, are formed to co-operate and conduct a programme of sustained, leading and conscious of class struggle. Especially to assist us in creating national trade unions and workers’ organisations to establish links with international organisations. A major struggle could be fought on this. With the activity and solidarity of the working class, help the workers to get rid of oppression and exploitation.

Long live the internationalist unity of the workers of the world
Theworking class will be victorious

Rejai Shahr prison

1 December 2014

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