On Saturday May 23rd the Iranian regime dropped charges against a number of workers and labour activists as part of its Eid amnesty.
Esmail Bakhshi, Mohammad Khanifar and Ali Nejati were among those amnestied. Esmail Bakhshi and Mohammad Khanifar are two Haft Tappeh workers who were fired because of their activities during the struggles and strikes of the sugar cane company’s workers. Ali Nejati is a retired Haft Tappeh worker. The three labour activists have been summoned and arrested several times in recent years.
The Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company was privatised in 2015. This led to many protests and strikes by its workers, including struggles against privatisation and demanding unpaid wages. In September 2019 Esmail Bakhshi, a leader and spokesperson of the Haft Tappeh workers during their protests, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and 74 lashes. In October 2019 he was released on bail of 750 million tomans.
Those amnestied also included Marzieh Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Neda Naji, Leila Hosseinzadeh and Soheil Aghazadeh. Marzieh Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz and several student activists were arrested on May Day 2019, during a demonstration commemorating International Workers’ Day in 2019. Neda Naji, another activist arrested on May Day, is currently on leave and will not have to return to prison.
Sepideh Gholian, a social activist who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for supporting the Haft Tappeh protests, is not on the amnesty list. She is currently free (after being released on $1.5 billion tomans bail).
The Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign welcomes the amnesties of Haft Tappeh workers Esmail Bakhshi, Mohammad Khanifar and Ali Nejati, as well as activists Marzieh Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, Neda Naji, Leila Hosseinzadeh and Soheil Aghazadeh. But we should bear in mind the following points: (1) None of them should have been detained – let alone tortured and convicted – on any security charges for merely defending workers’ basic rights. (2) A great many other workers and activists, including Sepideh Gholian, have not been amnestied. (3) Meanwhile, the big criminals in Iranian society go free, including Omid Asadbeigi, the Haft Tappeh’s 33-year-old CEO. He is currently facing charges of received $1.5 billion (yes, dollars!) from the Iranian regime to deal with the company’s situation. But he sold the currency on the open market. Gholamreza Shariati, the Governor of Khuzestan province, and his wife have also been charged with receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.
There will never be any justice for Iranian workers, their representatives or any activists supporting them, under this most vicious form of capitalist dictatorship.
Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign
25 May 2020