Iran: Flogging and imprisonment sentences for workers of AzarAb Industries annulled

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran

Summary: The “crime” of these workers is that they protested against the delays in payment of their wages and job insecurity — Editors

As previously reported, Branch 106 of the Arak Criminal Court sentenced over 40 AzarAb Industries workers in City of Arak each to one year in prison, 74 lashes, and one month of forced labour under in the name of “community service” (The numbers of workers were originally reported in the media as being 42 but the judiciary reported they were 41). These workers were arrested last year after they protested against the delays in payment of their wages, job insecurity and the privatization of the company. This unjust and inhumane verdict caused huge uproar in the country and in social media, prompted all independent labour and social groups to denounce it strongly; it also faced strong condemnation by international labour organizations including the IndustriALL Global Union. Facing growing condemnation for sentencing workers to cruel and inhuman flogging sentences, government authorities and the judiciary soon started retreating from their original aggressive position against these workers.

On Monday, June 29, 2020, the Chief Justice of Markazi Province was forced to reconsider the verdict. “I am following the case of 41 workers in AzarAb, the decision which has been made is not final and it will be reconsidered,” he told ISNA. Finally, on Tuesday, June 30th it was announced that the verdict of the lower court was suspended by the appeals court and later the Chief Justice of Markazi Province announced that sentences against these workers have been withdrawn. He also referred to a separate existing charge of “propaganda against the system” against a number of these workers, stating that “the acquittal of 15 workers of the AzarAb Arak Company on charges of propaganda against the system has been issued.”

At this time, it is not very clear whether there are any conditions for the withdrawal of these sentences as we have repeatedly witnessed the Iranian government’s total lack of transparency, accountability and liability. Nevertheless, a heartfelt congratulations to our fellow workers at the AzarAb industries is in order for defending themselves against these unjust sentences and for standing up for their rights. Many thanks for the support and solidarity all over the world.

In solidarity,

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

July 5, 2020

http://etehadbinalmelali.com/ak

info@workers-iran.org;

www.workers-iran.org;

https://twitter.com/IASWIinfo

 

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A call for urgent action: 74 lashes and one year in jail for 42 AzarAb Industries workers in Iran

Branch 106 of the Arak Criminal Court has sentenced 42 AzarAb Industries workers in Arak each to one year in prison, 74 lashes, and one month of forced labour under the guise of “community service”. The “crime” of these workers is that last year, together with their colleagues, they protested against the delays in payment of their wages and job insecurity after the transfer of this large industrial corporation to the private sector. The ruling comes as workers’ wages have not yet been paid in May and June of this year.

Workers in AzarAb Industries have been fighting against the company’s privation for the past number of years. Since the company was privatized, workers’ have seen significant deterioration of their job security, work benefits and frequent delays in payment of their wages.

In October 2019, the judiciary and security police summoned 21 AzarAb workers, 20 of whom were arrested after their visits. A number of workers who were brutally beaten by security forces, during their protests in October 2019, were taken to hospital, but an attack by security forces in the hospital left the injured workers without treatment. Eventually all these workers were released on bail but the security police and judicial authorities continued their prosecution despite the fact that they had done nothing but standing up for their livelihood and most basic rights as the working class.

Sentencing 42 workers collectively to ruthless lashes and imprisonment is beyond outrageous and just further reaffirms the anti-worker and repressive nature of the ruling state in Iran. Flogging sentences amount to physical and mental torture of workers and is the gross violation of their most basic human rights. In recent months, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed more attacks on workers’ rights and also cases where workers rights’ defenders have been sacked by their employers because of their labour activities.

We urge all workers’ organizations, trade unions, and workers’ and human rights defenders internationally to strongly condemn these cruel and unjust punishments of workers and to call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to arrests and repression of workers, labour activists, teachers and independent labour originations in Iran. We demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of these charges and freedom of all jailed labour activists in Iran.  The inhuman flogging sentences must stop in all instances. Internationally recognized Workers’ and human rights including freedom of association, right to organize, freedom of speech and freedom of the press must be respected.

In solidarity,

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

June 25, 2020

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