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Activists Detained, Workers Threatened as Oil Industry Workers Strike in Iran

ILO Must Speak Out Forcefully Against Islamic Republic’s Abuses Against Labor

May 4, 2023 – Strikers in Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemicals industries are being threatened with firing and labor activists are being rounded up and imprisoned as the Islamic Republic turns its focus to labor in its continued drive to squash peaceful protest across the country.

In the days leading up to International Labor Day on May 1, dozens of labor activists were detained or summoned to court in Tehran, Kurdistan, and Gilan provinces, while striking seasonal contract workers in more than 100 companies in the hydrocarbon sector have been told their employment will be terminated, in violation of Iran’s obligations under both international and domestic law.

These actions follow the state’s violent suppression of protests that swept Iran after the death in state custody of Jina Mahsa Amini for her allegedly improper hijab, in which state security forces killed more than 500 protesters and arrested more than 22,000.

“After slaughtering hundreds of peaceful protesters in the streets, the authorities are now going after peaceful workers and labor activists in order to crush any remaining dissent in the country,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“These actions are in direct violation of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Fundamental Principles,” Ghaemi said. “Iran is a member of the ILO; if these organizations are to have any meaning at all their leaderships must speak out against severe and blatant violations by their members.”

CHRI urgently calls on the ILO to immediately release a strong and clear statement that the Islamic Republic is in profound violation of its most basic principles, and that as a member of the ILO, Iran is required to guarantee the right to strike.

Striking teachers in Iran, who have also faced unlawful prosecution, called upon the ILO last year to eject Iran as a member, given the severity of its violations of ILO Principles.

Dozens of Labor Activists Arrested Since September 2022 Protests Began

At least 42 activists and journalists who cover labor issues have been arrested or summoned to court since the nationwide antigovernment protests that began in September 2022 erupted, according to research by CHRI. (See the list of names here.)

The Iranian authorities’ crackdown on Labor Day included the arrest of teachers’ rights activist and spokesperson for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA) Mohammad Habibi, whose home was also raided when he was arrested on April 28, 2023. Habibi had only recently been released from prison in February 2023 where he had been held since October 2022.

Habibi was violently re-arrested along with a number of other labor activists, among them Reyhaneh Ansarinejad, Asal Mohammadi, Hirad Pirbodaghi, Anisha Asadollahi, Sarvenaz Ahmadi, Kamyar Fakour, Hassan Ebrahimi, Jaleh Rouhzad and Oldouz Hashemi, all of whom were transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran. Habibi’s wife Khadijeh Pakzamir and labor activist Neda Naji were also detained but released after a few hours.

The arrests were condemned as “systematic brutality” in a joint statement by imprisoned labor activists Reza Shahabi and Hassan Saeidi, both senior members of the Tehran bus drivers’ union, and Keyvan Mohtadi, who are all serving six-year prison sentences at Tehran’s Evin Prison (5 years mandatory) on manufactured national security charges for their peaceful labor activism.

Companies Threaten to Fire Workers Protesting Poor Wages and Unsafe Conditions

Laborers have been increasingly going on strike in Iran since September 2022 in response to poor and unpaid wages made worse by inflation rates that exceed 42% according to the IMF (higher in certain sectors), withheld benefits such as health insurance, and extremely unsafe working conditions. The latest wave of labor strikes in the country’s oil and petrochemical industries began in late April 2023 and quickly spread.

In a statement published on April 29, 2023, the Contractual Oil Workers Protest Organizing Council announced that thousands of workers in more than 100 units in the oil, petrochemical and steel industries had joined the strike and more were joining in the coming days.

On May 1, there were labor rallies in more than a dozen cities in 11 provinces across Iran, including Khuzestan, Isfahan, Fars, Tehran, Kermanshah, Gilan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Markazi, Khorasan Razavi, and Yazd.

On April 27, CEO of the Pars Special Economic Zone in Bushehr province, Sekhavat Asadi, said 4,000 protesting workers were going to be fired and replaced, and a similar fate would befall strikers at petrochemical projects in Delijan, Markazi province if they did not return to work by April 29.

On the same day, the governor of Bushehr province, Ahmad Mohammadizadeh, announced that 10,000 workers would be newly hired for the South Pars oil and gas projects amid strikes.

A worker from Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province who participated in the strikes, told CHRI that strikes had continued in some production units despite the threats because “workers in general, and particularly the seasonal project workers, are protesting terrible working conditions and unlivable wages.”

Project workers are especially vulnerable to such threats, yet so far, the strikes continue. “Since many workers are temporary project workers, the threat of replacement can be serious,” the worker told CHRI. He added: “We have told authorities how to make reforms, but until then the laws give us the right to protest, even though our rights aren’t recognized. We’re being suppressed for making demands and accused of activities against national security.”

For a list compiled by CHRI of the names of the labor activists and journalists covering labor issues that have been arrested since the beginning of nationwide protests in Iran in September 2022, please see this article.

Iran: School Girls Continue to Face Chemical Attacks, Officials Refuse to Provide Security

Authorities Threaten Students, Families and Teachers While Refusing to Provide Transparent Investigations

School Girls and Staff Describe Being Forced to Stay in Affected Buildings While Authorities Dismiss Concerns

April 24, 2023 – Five months after the first report of a chemical attack on a girls’ school in Iran, students across the country are continuing to report chemical odors in their classrooms and symptoms associated with chemical inhalation, including respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, fainting, and eye irritation.

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Sources Close to Toomaj Urge International Community to Demand His Release Before Trial Begins

Imprisoned Unjustly Since October 2022, in Urgent Need of Medical Care

April 6, 2023 – The international community, including music and arts institutions as well as freedom of speech and expression organizations, should urgently call for the release from arbitrary imprisonment of dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is widely considered the voice of Iran’s protest movement, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

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Iran Protests: More Doctors Treating Protesters Killed, Tortured and Detained

Global Medical Community Must Speak Out Against Severe Violation of International Law

February 10, 2023 — An increasing number of doctors and medical workers continue to be arrested, detained, tortured and killed by Islamic Republic forces for treating wounded protesters, in direct violation of international law that requires the protection of medical personnel as they carry out their duty to provide care to any individual in need.

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IRGC is a state terrorist organization!

In 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took political power in Iran, he ordered the establishment of the IRGC. Thereafter, the IRGC was used as a regime oppressive apparatus against Iranian. The tasks of IRGC were written as follows according to the constitutional book of the mullahs’ regime in Iran:

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Second known protest-related execution carried out in Iran

Mon December 12, 2022 – CNN, By Teele Rebane and Artemis Moshtaghian
Iran has executed a second man allegedly involved in the nationwide anti-government protest movement after he was convicted of fatally stabbing two security officials last month, Mizan Online, a news agency affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, and the semi-official Tasmin news agency reported on Monday.

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Secret Report Reveals Khamenei’s Pessimism Over Iran Protests

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

Wednesday, 11.30.2022- Author: Maryam Sinaee – A secret report by IRGC’s media arm quotes Iran’s Supreme Leader as saying protests will not end soon and criticizing failures in “media war” against protesters.

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U.S., World Must Collectively Address State Atrocities Against Peaceful Protesters in Iran

Policy Paper Lays out Specific Actions Biden and Other World Leaders Should Take

October 18, 2022—With security forces in Iran continuing their month-long assault on peaceful protesters, the only way to stop the killing in Iran—which has left more than 200 people dead, including at least 23 children—is international action that imposes meaningful diplomatic costs on the authorities in Iran, according to a new policy briefing released today by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

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Iran grapples with most serious challenge in years

Protests have spread across Tehran and other cities

Sep. 23. 2022- By Rana Rahimpour BBC Persian- The eruption of nationwide protests in Iran following the death in police custody of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman detained for allegedly failing to adhere to hijab (headscarf) rules is the most serious challenge Iran’s leadership has faced in years.

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State Now Issues and Revokes Law Licenses, Crushing Independence of Legal Profession

Due Process and Fair Trial Rights Dealt Further Blow by New Legislation

July 12, 2021—In a sweeping grab of new powers over the Iranian Bar Association (IBA) that grants the Iranian judiciary the right to issue and revoke law licenses, the country’s judicial establishment, now led by human rights violator Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, has effectively destroyed the independence of Iranian lawyers.

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