From the TUC

Iran continues its violent repression of trade unions

20 Apr 2014, By

Most of the news stories you see about Iran will be about the regional politics, Islamic extremism, or repression of political protest. But what you will see far less of is the brutal repression of free trade unionism, which doesn’t fit into the prevailing narrative. The most recent example is the treatment of hunger striker and jailed trade unionist Shahrokh Zamani, who led the paint workers’ union of Tehran until his arrest in 2011.

Zamani, whose case has been taken up by the Building Workers’ International, International Trade Union Confederation, Amnesty International – who consider him a prisoner of conscience – and Iran solidarity campaigners CODIR, has now concluded his hunger strike having lost 22 kilos. He started it in solidarity with people jailed for exercising their freedom of religion, but he was picked on by the authorities and transferred to a prison for violent criminals.

His only actual crime was standing up for his fellow workers, but that isn’t permitted in Iran, as it is considered to be “acting against national security by establishing or membership in groups opposed to the system” and “spreading propaganda against the establishment” – the catch-all charges he was originally convicted of three years ago. He was sentenced to 11 years in Iran’s horrendous prison system, along with a colleague, Mohamad Jarahi, who got five years.

Amnesty and others are now calling for Zamani to be released, and the BWI and ITUC want him to get his old job back, too. They want him to avoid the sort of physical harassment leading to long-term disablement affecting transport workers’ leader Reza Shahabi.

The situation facing trade unionists in Iran doesn’t get much publicity, but the regime there deserves international opprobrium for continuing to attack its own working people even while it shows a more conciliatory face to the rest of the world. Workers’ oppression anywhere affects us everywhere.

3 Responses to Iran continues its violent repression of trade unions

  1. John
    Apr 21st 2014, 1:36 am

    Another concerning article Owen about trade unionists in developing countries; thankyou for this news update about what is actually happening there in Iran.

  2. Change Iran Now
    Apr 22nd 2014, 2:53 am

    Iran has been remade by these clerical extremists to have economic despair, brutal human rights repression and a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East. All for what? There’s not much of a bright future the people of Iran can look forward to, especially since Rouhani is little no more than a public mask espousing moderation when in fact he’s a loyal, career hardliner. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself at The only hope for the future if Iran future is a regime change.

  3. Thaddeus
    May 1st 2014, 2:02 am

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