Author Archives: freeshahrokhandreza

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

Petition hand in and protest at the Iranian Embassy

Thank you to everyone who helped with the campaign to free Shahrokh and Reza. We tried to hand in the petition to the Iranian Embassy on Wednesday but they wouldn’t answer the door to us!

More labour activists arrested in Iran

Originally posted on:

Labour activist Hatam Samadi has been arrested by plainclothes officials and transferred to an unknown location.

The Coordination Committee for Establishing Labour Organizations issued a statement saying committee member Hatam Samadi was arrested at 10 AM at his workplace and his arrest has been reported to his family by the Sanandaj Intelligence Bureau.

Ribvar Abdollahi, another committee member, was arrested and stood trial on February 4 for the charge of propaganda activities against the regime, receiving a one-year jail sentence. The trial reportedly lasted a few minutes.

Abdollahi has been released on bail of 700 million toumans.

The committee was established to help Iranian workers fight for their rights, and labour protests have become a common occurrence in recent years with continued factory closures and delays in wage and benefit payments.

February 11th – Protest at the Iranian Embassy

Petition hand in – protest at the Iranian Embassy.

On February 11th we will gather at the Iranian Embassy to hand in our petitions. February 11th is the official celebration of “Revolution Day” in Iran, where the Iranian state celebrates a distorted history of the Iranian Revolution. The Iranian Revolution was made by the Iranian workers, fighting against the Shah but also against their bosses. Their revolution has been taken away from them. We have chosen this day to protest at the Iranian state’s treatment of the labour movement that fought for freedom in 1979 and continues to fight for freedom today.

February 11th – 5.30pm for 6pm start – Iranian Embassy 16 Prince’s Gate, London, SW7 1PT

Bring banners

ILO – Take Iran’s workers rights’ abuses seriously

On Friday 16 January campaigners met at the official address of the International Labour Organisation in London to hand in a letter calling on the ILO to take Iran’s workers’ rights abuses seriously.
The ILO allows Iran to remain a signatory to core conventions and allowing delegations from non-independent state unions to attend ILO conferences.
Iran has ratified five of the eight core conventions, it has not however ratified C87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention), C98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention) or C138 (Minimum Age Convention).
We argue that the freedom of association and right to organise independent trade unions are fundamental labour rights. Iran should be not be let off the hook on these principles.
The ILO states that for the core conventions “all Members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organisation to respect, to promote and to realise, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental rights which are the subject of those Conventions”.20150116_174310

Speak out for Shahrokh and Reza

On Saturday night poets and spoken word artists will be performing in a gig to raise awareness and funds for Shahrokh and Reza.

Saturday 10th Jan, Union Tavern, 52 Lloyd Baker Street, wc1x 9aa London, 7pm

From facebook:

Shahrokh Zamani has been in prison in Iran since 2011, sentenced to 11 years for trade union organising. Shahrokh is part of the paint workers union in Tehran. Reza Shahabi has been in prison since 2010 for trade union organising. He is the treasurer of the Tehran bus workers union. Both have been tortured whilst in jail, resorted to hunger strikes and have medical conditions which require treatment.

We will be speaking up for Shahrokh and Reza and raising funds for their legal defence and for other trade unionists in prison in Iran.

Attila the Stockbroker, Michelle Madsen, Tim Wells, Emily Harrison, Sam Dodd, Janine Booth, Chip Grimm & more TBC

Noel Park Labour Party branch vote to support Shahrokh and Reza

The Noel Park branch of the the Labour Party passed the following motion on Sunday. The motion will now go up to the Horsey and Wood Green Constituency Labour Party meeting.

This branch notes

1. That Shahrokh Zamani of the Tehran painters’ union has been in prison since the start of 2012, and RezaShahabi of the Tehran bus workers’ union since 2010, on charges of “acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system” – ie working to establish independent trade unions.

2. That both have suffered severe mistreatment, torture and denial of medical facilities in prison.

3. That both have gone on hunger strike in protest at their own treatment but also the treatment of other prisoners. More info:

This branch believes

1. That more than three decades after Iranian workers toppled the Shah’s brutal dictatorship, they are repressed by a similarly despotic regime.

2. That the Islamic Republic of Iran represses any attempt to set up independent unions or organise strikes. Beatings, (often unlawful) arrest and torture are routinely used against labour activists.

3. That despite this Iranian workers continue to struggle. September and October 2014 saw important struggles by iron ore, car, ceramics and sugar workers.

4. That Western-imposed economic sanctions against Iran are making the situation for Iranian workers harder, both economically and politically.

The branch resolves:

1. To circulate information about the campaign to freeShahrokh and Reza to our members.

2. To encourage members to sign the petition and write to their MP asking them to sign the Early Day Motion tabled by John McDonnell MP (EDM 52).

3. To issue a short statement of solidarity.

4. To send this motion forward for the consideration of the GC.