5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC does not have an affiliate in Iran.

Iran has not ratified either Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) or Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949).

In practice

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Ill treatment in prison of teacher trade unionists08-10-2021

One method used by the Iranian regime to torture and harass political prisoners is to keep them among dangerous and criminal prison inmates and incite these dangerous prisoners to attack the jailed activists. On 8 October 2021, Ismail Gerami, a retired teacher and workers’ rights activist, and Shapoor Ehsani Rad, another retired worker, together with other political prisoners, were attacked with knives and sharp objects by dangerous prisoners incited by the prison authorities. Several political prisoners were injured in this attack, which took place in front of prison guards. There had been reports of this type of attack before, and in 2020 a young political prisoner named Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali was stabbed to death by a prison inmate.
Concerns grew for the well-being of Esmail Abdi, former secretary general of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), who has been imprisoned on numerous occasions since 2006 on trumped-up charges of “propaganda against the state” and “espionage”. He was sentenced to five years in 2016 on fictitious charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. To prevent his release, the Iranian authorities executed a suspended 10-year sentence related to a 2011 case; this was at the end of his previous sentence on 11 January 2021, thereby imprisoning him until 2031.
Long imprisonment and ill treatment in the prison have severely affected his health. In the meantime, Esmail’s family (wife, two daughters and a son) were being harassed and victimised by the security forces and considered at serious risk.

Defence lawyer for Haft Tappeh Workers sentenced to one year in prison13-09-2021

Farzaneh Zilabi, the defence lawyer for the Haft Tappeh sugar cane workers, was sentenced by the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court to one year in prison on 13 September 2021. In addition to the prison sentence, Zilabi received a two-year ban from leaving the country. On 16 May, she was issued with a six-month ban from practicing law. Nasser Zarafshan, her lawyer, stated that his client was “paying for defending the Haft Tappeh workers”.
Following the privatisation of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Complex in 2016, workers and the syndicate organised a number of strikes, most recently in August 2021, against the continuous unpaid wages of employees and the alleged corruption of the former owners. Zilabi had also represented many individual labour rights defenders and had been outspoken about the torture reported by her clients. Zilabi was summoned to court in May 2021, and on 13 September 2021, a sentence for “propaganda activities against the state” was handed down. Farzaneh Zilabi had previously been summoned for representing the Haft Tappeh workers on a number of occasions.

Seven hundred workers fired for union activity at oil and petrochemical company22-06-2021

Seven hundred workers at a Tehran oil refinery were fired on 22 June 2021 for participating in workplace strikes. The workers were fired as part of a sweeping strike action occurring across Iran, with an estimated 20,000 oil and petrochemical workers on strike across 11 provinces. Many workers from various industrial centres have joined the “1400 Campaign”, demanding higher wages, an increase in leave and holidays by ten days, and better health and safety conditions (especially in the context of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic). These are longstanding demands that have been ignored by management and the Iranian regime’s authorities. Workers from many centres – including the Mahshahr port of the Southern Oil Company; Assaluyeh; the Damavand petrochemical project; Kayhan Pars in Esfahan; and Esfahan oil refinery – and contract workers at the Abadan refinery and workers at the Adish refinery have joined the campaign. Workers at the Kangan Phase 13 power plant also walked off the job. The Council for Organising Protests of Oil Contract Workers is coordinating these strikes and protests.

Striking oil workers sacked in protest against abusive working conditions19-06-2021

Contract workers in the oil and petrochemical industries began a nationwide strike on 19 June 2021 in protest against low wages and difficult working conditions. An estimated 20,000 oil and petrochemical workers joined the strike across 11 provinces. Workers from various industrial centres joined the “1400 Campaign” (referring to the Iranian year) organised by the Council for Organising Protests of Oil Contract Workers. They were demanding higher wages, increased leave and better health and safety conditions (especially in the context of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic), and above all, job security with permanent contracts and for all longstanding demands to be met that have been ignored by management and the Iranian regime’s authorities.
In response, however, the regime stepped up its repression, and on 22 June, 700 workers were fired. Others were blacklisted and virtually barred from employment in any other sector.
By September, 17 companies had agreed to many of the workers’ demands, including higher pay and changes to the shift system. Other negotiations were ongoing.

Death threats against protesting sugar cane workers05-06-2021

On 5 June 2021, the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company workers published a statement on their independent Telegram channel warning of threats to kill labour activists.
In May 2021, a court revoked the privatisation of the agro-industrial complex and removed Omid Asadbeigi as CEO of Haft Tappeh, a change that many of its 5,000 workers had campaigned for. The activists believed thugs in the employ of Omid Asadbeigi were behind the latest threats to their lives following his removal.
The privatisation of Haft Tappeh dated back to 2016, and it had been badly mismanaged ever since, leaving workers facing chronic wage arrears and undelivered health insurance benefits. The workers protested, which led to threats and repression. (On 20 November 2018, several Haft Tappeh workers who had participated in the protests were arrested by security forces, and on 14 December 2019, the Appeals Court in Tehran sentenced nine labour activists to five years in prison on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” in connection with the Haft Tappeh protests.)
The workers continued to protest in the summer of 2021, calling for the payment of their outstanding wages and the reinstatement of their dismissed colleagues. There was some good news, however. A press release issued on behalf of the Haft Tappeh workers stated that their colleagues Mohammad Khanifar, Hamed Hamdani and Faisal Sa’alebi, arrested during the protests, had been released from prison on 6 June following their trial.

Arrest and sentencing of workers’ rights defenders16-05-2021

Two prominent workers’ rights defenders, Mahmoud Salehi and Osman Ismaili, were arrested on 16 May 2021 after being summoned to the prosecutor’s office in Saqquez. The two were charged with endangering national security after publishing photos and videos related to International Labour Day, 1 May. They had recently been convicted under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code of “spreading propaganda against the system”. Since they had refused bail on principle, they were being held in prison.
Mahmoud Salehi was in poor health and in need of regular medical attention, having lost both kidneys as a result of his past mistreatment in prison. For many years, as founder of arrested and repeatedly imprisoned for defending the fundamental rights of workers to freedom of association.
On 27 May, the Revolutionary Court of Iran sentenced Mahmoud Salehi to three months in prison and Osman Ismaili to six months in prison. The court further ruled that the sentence could be converted into cash penalties and that they should pay 20 million rials (about US$80) and 40 million rials, respectively.
The two men were released from Saqez Prison after 25 days, following payment of their fines.

Miners fired after protest action30-01-2020

Three hundred workers at the Chadormalu iron ore mine were fired after protesting low wages and wage discrimination against contractors.

The Chadormalu iron ore mine in the central Iranian province of Yazd employs about 5,000 workers, mostly through a series of independent contractors. On 25 January, 300 workers employed through the independent contractor Bahavand Barad walked out in protest just as their contracts were due to be renewed.

The workers had been planning to form a union to address low wages and an unjust occupational classification plan that discriminates against contract workers. After the walkout, the contractor fired the workers. The protests at the mine are ongoing.

Another group of 300 workers, employed through the Hatami contractor, protested against the incorrect classification of jobs and discrimination between direct and contract workers, which resulted in a reduction in their earnings compared to direct employees.

They were also protesting against provincial labour department officials siding with the employer. The workers had been waiting for job classification for more than 19 months. When it was applied incorrectly, it resulted in a relative reduction in their pay.

The content of the occupational classification plan for contracted-out and direct employees is the same. However, a direct employee with the same qualifications and skill level is paid between 10 and 15 per cent more than a contract worker for doing the same job. The mine has faced industrial relations conflicts in the past, with 20 striking mineworkers arrested in 2014.

WRDA member run over by a car30-12-2019

On 27 December 2019, a member of the Workers’ Rights Defenders Association (WRDA) was summoned to court and was told to cease his activities. The WRDA member responded by denouncing the state pressure and saying that he would speak out to the media if such persecution continued.

The next day he was run over by a car and transported to the hospital. His injuries were extremely severe and required numerous surgeries and prosthetics. He survived his injuries after a number of surgeries including prosthetic replacements.

A few days later, while he was still in the hospital, an unidentified person entered his room and threatened him: “This time you were only run over because of your interview, but next time you will end up worse than in the hospital.”

Protestors arrested after May Day protests20-12-2019

On 1 May, 38 people were arrested by government forces after a large group of workers, teachers, students and pensioners demonstrated outside the Iranian regime’s parliament in a May Day protest.

Hassan Saidi, one of the May Day 2019 detainees and a member of the Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, had been sentenced in a lower court to five years’ imprisonment and a two-year ban on using social media and smartphones. In December 2019, the appeal court upheld his sentence.

Labour activist Esmail Bakhshi re-arrested04-12-2019

Esmail Bakshi, a labour activist from the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union, was arrested on the evening of 20 January 2019 by unknown security forces just one month after he was released from an earlier arrest in December. Mr Bakhshi was detained from 18 November to 12 December 2018 after playing a leading role in the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union strike. He was tortured by the Iranian regime’s security forces while in jail, a fact which the Iranian government has denied.

Bakhshi had recently published a letter in which he wrote about the torture he was subjected to when he was detained for the first time. His letter has inspired many victims of torture in Iran to come forward and speak up about their torture in prison.

The security forces also arrested Sepideh Gholian and her brother Mehdi Gholian on 19 January. Sepideh Gholian is a journalist and a student activist who was first arrested with Bakhshi and several other sugarcane workers in the protests last year where workers demanded unpaid wages and better working conditions. The arrest of Bakhshi and Gholian is another attempt by the government in Iran to silence the protesters in Iran and to stop the released prisoners from exposing the condition of prison and the horrific tortures they were subjected to.

Esmail Bakhshi was released from prison on 30 October 2019. Sepideh Gholian was released from prison on 4 December 2019 with her bail set at almost US$50 000.

The government refuses to recognise the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company30-10-2019

After being unable to hold elections for over fifteen years, the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company finally had a chance in November 2018, at the request of workers, to hold elections to organise a union in the workplace.

Accordingly, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Labour on 13 November 2018 to communicate the election results and request the registration of the union. However, after over a year, on 30 October 2019, the Iranian authorities refused to recognise the union as the representative bargaining agent in the company and denied their application for registration.

Protesting workers beaten and detained by security forces28-10-2019

On 16 September 2019, special security forces injured up to 20 workers and detained 40 more at HEPCO Industrial Complex in the city of Arak, 281 kilometres west of the capital city, Tehran.

HEPCO, which produces road construction equipment for Iran and other Middle Eastern countries and was founded before the Islamic Revolution, was privatised in 2017. Labour rights activists say that immediately following the privatisation, problems emerged for workers. The new owners started to delay wages and mismanage the complex. Workers had been protesting throughout September, and almost 900 workers were demonstrating on 16 September when the arrests were made.

The workers have repeatedly called upon the government to return HEPCO’s ownership to the public sector. Workers at many other privatised factories across the country have also joined their peers in Arak, insisting that their work conditions have worsened after the privatisation of their companies. Furthermore, the workforce has reportedly been reduced from 8,000 workers to 1,000

since privatisation. Protests continued on 22 September 2019. Approximately 30 of those arrested were released within two weeks; however, six workers remained in custody until 28 October 2019.

In another similar incident in Arak, 21 workers at AzarAb, which constructs power plants, petrochemical plants and sugar, gas and oil refineries, were arrested while protesting against privatisation.

Persecution continues at Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane23-10-2019

On 17 June 2019, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane workers published the names of 100 individuals who had supported the cause of the Haft Tappeh workers and had been subject to prosecution and/or persecution as a result. Among them, a total of 31 workers were arrested during the protests at Haft Tappeh, which were about the state’s mediatised privatisation of the company and outstanding wages and benefits. Nine labour activists were also arrested in connection with supporting Haft Tappeh protests. Sixty more workers were arrested in recent months. Security forces also used phone calls to threaten workers.

On 23 September 2019, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane workers started a new round of protests and strikes to protest the arbitrary dismissal of over twenty workers. Security forces threatened several workers with phone calls, summoned some to local security offices and arrested three workers. Fourteen workers were also arrested in October in relation for their participation in the protests. All workers were released on bail a few days after.

Fourteen striking workers arrested06-10-2019

Fourteen employees of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane factory were arrested on 6 October 2019, the fourteenth day of a strike that was being held to protest the firing of 150 workers and to demand the release of their colleague Esmail Bakhshi, who remains in prison, and the payment of unpaid wages.

Strikes over unpaid wages brutally suppressed31-08-2019

According to the Workers’ Rights Defenders Association (WRDA), in 2019 many strikes broke out in Iran over outstanding wages and unpaid benefits. Due to the international context and the pressure it exerts on Iranian society, it is estimated that some 1,262 firms are faced with financial problems in the country while 1,093 firms have paid their workforce with considerable delays or still have not paid

them after several months. In 31 provinces, there are firms that are faced with delayed payments. Overall, 130,413 workers across the country have not received their payment for more than a month. A breakdown by province shows that Tehran tops the list with 17,271 workers from 30 firms who have not received their salaries.

WRDA also reports that more than 1,000 strikes, walkouts, road blockades and work stoppages were organised in a variety of sectors. The armed forces were sent by the authorities to curb, often violently, these protests.

Workers’ rights activists heavily charged for organising a protest06-07-2019

On 6 July 2019, Farzana Zilabi, a lawyer who represents both Mr Nejati and Mr Bakhshi, two historical workers’ rights defenders, reported that their cases were sent to Tehran’s Revolutionary Courts. According to Zilabi, Mr Nejati was charged with “assembly and collusion to act against national security” and “propaganda against the state”. Esmail Bakhshi’s charges included “assembly and collusion to act against national security”, “acting against national security through propaganda”, “insulting the supreme leader”, “spreading lies in order to disrupt public opinion“and”disrupting public order by attending illegal gatherings”.

Four cement workers charged for participating in a strike17-06-2019

On 17 June 2019, four Karun Cement workers, Farshad Khodadadian, Khorram Aghabigi, Peyman Soleimani and Amin Hatami, were summoned to answer to judicial authorities. Over three years ago, these workers had a case opened against them following the factory director’s complaint against them for participating in the protests by the factory’s workers. They were charged with “disturbing the society’s order” and “participating in illegal gatherings.”

Steel workers arrested in Khuzestan province18-12-2018

Over 4,000 workers at the Iran National Steel Industrial Group in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, went on strike on November 9 to demand the payment of their delayed wages and benefits, better working conditions, and, following the arrests of their comrades, the immediate and unconditional release of workers’ rights activists.
Government forces arrested more than 40 workers across two consecutive days of raids on the homes of the striking workers of the Ahvaz Steel Complex. Thirty-one workers were arrested at about 2 a.m., Monday, 17 December 2018, and at least another ten workers were arrested on December 18, 2018. According to Iran’s Free Labour Union (FLU), a group which has been banned by the Iranian government, the 41 detained workers have been transferred to the Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz.
The steelworkers’ strike began shortly after another strike by workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar cane factory in nearby Shush. Protesters are demanding the payment of wage arrears and accusing the new private owners of criminal activity.
Mohammad Ali Jedari Foroughi, a lawyer for some of the arrested workers at the Iran National Steel Industrial Group, said that thirty-five of the workers have been released on bail, but seven workers continue to be detained, and some have not had access to legal representation.
The Khuzestan governor’s political and social deputy implied that striking steelworkers violated the law by carrying out strike action; however, representatives of the workers maintain that the demands of the workers of the Iran National Steel Industrial Group are all legal, legitimate and work related.
The arrests have been condemned by members of Iran’s parliament as unconstitutional acts of government force. The arrests are a clear violation of international labour standards regarding the right to freedom of association and the right to strike.

Former Tehran bus union vice president lost appeal against heavy sentencing14-12-2018

Former vice president and retired Tehran bus union activist Ebrahim Madadi lost his appeal against the five-year and three-month prison sentences he was issued for engaging in peaceful labour activism. Ebrahim Madadi, together with Davood Razavi, a member of the board of directors of the same union, were arrested by the intelligence forces at their homes both at the same time, on 29 April 2015, for their legitimate trade union activity. Madadi has not yet begun serving his sentence, but he cannot leave the country and cannot be active in the trade union.

Labour activists from the Haft Tapheh Workers’ syndicate arrested and tortured in Tehran13-12-2018

Esmail Bakhshi, a prominent labour activist and member of a Haft Tapeh Sugar Factory Workers’ Union, was arrested on November 18 in Shush on the 14th consecutive day of labour protests at a local sugarcane mill, together with more than a dozen labour activists and workers. All were released a few days later except Bakhshi, who was in custody until 12 December along with Sepideh Qelian, a female photographer arrested with him. Both Bakhshi and Qelian were physically and verbally assaulted and tortured in custody, and Bakhshi was hospitalised in late November, although officials have denied these accusations.
On 29 November 2018, Ali Nejati, a retired prominent Iranian unionist and member of the syndicate of the workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane complex, was arrested. His attorney, Farzaneh Zilabi, said that her client has been charged with “disrupting public order”, “collusion and assembly against national security” and “cooperation in establishing a group intended to disrupt peace and security”.
According to the syndicate, security forces stormed Nejati’s house without presenting any legal warrants and arrested Mr Nejati with force. He is still in Ahwaz prison. He was taken to hospital on December 13, after “being harshly pressured under interrogation”, the syndicate reported. His lawyer says his arrest is related to assertions that he poses a threat to national security and to a previous, unserved one-year sentence related to his labour activism.

Two union activists arrested in their homes03-12-2018

On 23 October 2018 in the city of Mashad, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) snatched Hashem Khastar, a retired teacher and union activist of Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicate of Iran (CCTSI), from his home, sending him by ambulance into psychiatric “care” despite his clean bill of mental health. After 14 days, the intelligence officers then negotiated with Mr Khastar’s wife and released him.
On 3 December 2018, Asghar Firouzi, age 70, founding member of Center of Workers Rights Defenders Association (WARDA), was taken into custody in the presence of his colleagues at his book depository located on the outskirts of the city of Mashhad, capital of Khorasan Razavi Province. He was released after 12 days. The authorities came to the workers’ libraries (Pouya Research Institute) and confiscated all of the books at all of the locations. The institute has more than 60 libraries in different cities and villages around Khorasan Province. The government accused the institute of “book hoarding”.

Teachers imprisoned participating in protests10-11-2018

On 20 May 2018, a peaceful protest organised by the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association of Tehran (ITTA) was attacked by government security forces and fourteen participants were arrested . Mohammed Habibi – a member of the board of directors of the ITTA – was arrested in this protest and remained in custody after the other 13 protestors had been released. At the time of his arrest, Habibi was on bail from a previous arrest in March 2018 when he had been imprisoned for one month. It has been reported that Habibi is being held under “unbearably harsh conditions”, and suffering from serious injuries caused by beatings from his arrest and detention, but has not been moved to a hospital. On 4 August, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Mohammad Habibi to receive punishment of 74 lashes and ten and a half years in prison. Habibi was also banned from travel or any social and political activities for a further two years.
Teachers participated in further nationwide strikes organised by the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations (CCITTA) on 14 and 15 October 2018 to protest the repression of their rights to freedom of association and the ongoing detention of trade union leaders.
The participants have faced widespread retaliation and intimidation from the authorities throughout the year. On 11 October, ITTA member Abbas Vahedian was arrested at his home in Mashhad by security agents who raided his house and took him to an unknown location. On 13 October, the head of the ITTA secretariat, Mohammad Reza Ramezanzadeh, was arrested. On 17 October, ITTA member Mohammad Saleh Shokri was arrested by Intelligence Ministry agents in Saqqez. He has not been charged and is being denied legal representation and visits from his family. On 23 October, Hashem Khastar, head of the Mashhad Teachers Union, went missing after publishing a letter on social media praising the striking teachers. Khastar was later located being held and given forced treatment in a psychiatric facility by order of the public prosecutor of Mashhad, Gholamali Sadeghi. He was released on 10 November following public protest.

Workers detained and flogged for strike participation31-10-2018

In May 2018, fifteen employees of the Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO) were arrested for taking part in a strike to protest wage arrears, a decline in occupational safety and uncertainty surrounding continued production. Since May 2018, hundreds of HEPCO plant workers have gone on at least two strikes demanding months of unpaid wages. In October 2018, the Criminal Court of Arak sentenced each of the workers to between a year and two and a half years’ in prison and 74 lashes for “disrupting public order’ and ‘instigating workers via the internet to demonstrate and riot”.
HEPCO, a lucrative industrial complex founded before the Islamic Revolution, was privatised last year. Labour rights activists say that immediately following the privatisation, the new private owners sacked thousands of workers and many employees lost their health insurance and pension benefits.
Past workers’ protests at the HEPCO complex have been met with violence. According to media reports and social media posts, on 19 September 2017, anti-riot police attacked HEPCO and another recently privatised industrial complex in Arak, Azarab, and arrested several protesters. Some of the anti-riot forces drove through the protesters on motorbikes while firing tear gas and beating them with sticks.

Hundreds of truck drivers detained during strike08-10-2018

In September and October 2018, nationwide strikes by truck drivers took place to protest low wages, poor living standards and the employer’s failure to pay wages for several months. Over 250 workers were arrested and detained during the strikes in 19 different provinces in a serious violation of the international labour standards protecting the right to strike. Numerous statements were then made by members of the judiciary calling for the strikers to receive harsh punishments and, in some cases, be condemned to death. Iran’s prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, reportedly stated on 27 September that the strikers should be considered criminals and face the death penalty due to the threat that they pose to national security. In Zarand, Prosecutor-General Mehdi Qawidel reportedly described the detainees as “opportunists and profiteers” whose strike was a “provocation by hostile foreign governments”. Qawidel further stated they should be treated as criminals who deserve to be hanged. On 8 October, a court in Qazvin province reportedly recommended death sentences for 17 of those who took action. It is understood that over 260 drivers are still in detention.

Imprisoned trade union leader in critical health conditions23-12-2017

On 9 August Reza Shahabi, an executive board member of Tehran Bus Workers’ Union (Vahed Union), who has been in and out of prison since 2010, was imprisoned again. Shahabi went on a hunger strike, and soon his health deteriorated to the extent that international human rights organisations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) issued statements calling for his unconditional release. A protest was held in front of the Iranian Parliament in September demanding his release. But the police forcibly dispersed the protestors. Shahabi insists that his 986-day sentence should be repealed. He has vowed to go on another hunger strike if his demands are not met. On 27 September 27 Reza Shahabi conditionally ended his hunger strike, after a “high security official” promised to review his requests. On 13 December he suffered a first stroke but was brought to the hospital only two days later. According to local media, he might have suffered a second stroke on 23 December.
Recently, both in Iran and abroad, there have been growing protests for Reza Shahabi’s freedom. A protest rally was held on 26 December, outside the Ministry of Labour in Tehran, to address the alarming situation and the deteriorating health conditions of Reza Shahabi. This gathering was brutally attacked by security forces, and reportedly about 40 people, many of whom women, were arrested, including Reza Shahabi’s wife.

Legal Proceedings initiated against labour protesters in Arak21-12-2017

Workers of HEPCO, an Iranian heavy construction equipment manufacturer in Arak, started a strike in early December to protest the non-payment of their wages. On 19 September 2017, workers had already organised a march in Arak for the same reasons. Anti-riot police had attacked striking workers, wounding many protesters and arresting dozens of them.
Faced with their employer’s inaction, HEPCO workers took their protest back to the streets in December. Subsequently, 20 striking construction workers were summoned by the judicial authorities and charged with “disturbing peace and order and participating in illegal gatherings”.
The Provincial Council has reportedly given one month to HEPCO to pay all outstanding wages, while requesting workers to go back to work. In compliance with this order, workers have resumed work, but they are facing serious reprisal from the employer and feel under permanent stress. Reports indicate that workers are monitored in all their social media activities.

Two trade union leaders persecuted by authorities03-12-2017

Harassment of trade unionists Ebrahim Madadi and Davood Razavi continued. Mr Davood Razavi, a member of the board of directors of Tehran bus workers’ union, appeared in the Appeals Court of the Islamic Revolutionary Court on 4 November 2017 without the presence of his lawyer. Ebrahim Madadi, a member and Vice President of the board of directors of Tehran bus workers’ union (Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company), was summoned to appear at Branch 36 of the Revolutionary Court’s Appeals Court of the Islamic Revolutionary court on 3 December 2017. Ebrahim Madadi and Davood Razavi were arrested by the intelligence forces at their homes both at the same time, on 29 April 2015, for their legitimate trade union activity.

Labour activist Mahmoud Salehi in critical health condition11-11-2017

On 28 October labour activist Mahmoud Salehi, who has been in and out of jail for the past thirty years, was imprisoned again. On 3 November Salehi suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised. However, and shockingly, he was transferred back to prison on 11 November despite the fact that he suffers from severe heart failure and lost all kidney function during his imprisonment. Salehi must undergo kidney dialysis in the hospital twice a week. The life of Salehi is in grave danger if he remains in prison.

Arrest of Alireza Saghafi01-11-2017

On 1 November, Security forces went to Alireza Saghafi’s house to arrest him on a three years’ imprisonment verdict for organising a May Day gathering in Laleh Park on May Day 2009. Around 150 workers and labour rights activists were arrested on May Day 2009. In the verdict he was charged with participating at Khavaran cemetery with families of the 1988 massacre who were commemorating their loved ones. Saghafi is Chair of the Workers’ Rights Defenders Association and is also a member of the Iranian Writers’ Association.

Imprisoned teachers’ rights advocate Esmail Abdi denied sentence review09-10-2017

The Iranian judicial authorities have denied a request for review of the heavy prison sentence handed down against Esmail Abdi, the former secretary general of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), the largest Iranian teachers’ organisation. Since November 2016, Abdi, a 44-year-old high school mathematics teacher, has been serving a six-year prison sentence for his peaceful activism in support of labour rights. Abdi was arrested on 27 June 2015 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence arm, a week after being barred from leaving Iran to attend an international teachers’ conference in Canada. In February 2016, Judge Abolqasem Salavati of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six years in prison for “propaganda against the State” and “collusion against national security”. The verdict was upheld upon appeal.
On 16 June 2016 Abdi ended his hunger strike after more than 30 days when judicial authorities agreed to consider reviewing his sentence. In a letter of 30 April 2017, Abdi announced his second hunger strike until his case was investigated outside the State security apparatus.

Death of a labour activist due to ill-treatment in jail05-10-2017

On 5 October labour activist Mohammad Jarrahi died from a thyroid cancer that was left untreated while he was held as a political prisoner in Iran’s Tabriz Prison. Jarrahi, a construction painter, was first arrested in Tabriz, northwestern Iran, in 2008 and charged with “propaganda against the state” for handing out labour leaflets. He was sentenced to a year in prison, but the sentence was suspended because judicial procedures were not followed correctly. He was then arrested again in Tabriz in May 2011 along with fellow labour activist Shahrokh Zamani, who died of a heart attack in September 2015 after being denied medical care in Rajaee Shahr Prison. They had been sentenced to five years in prison each for distributing labour movement newsletters and campaigning to form independent workers’ organisations.

Imprisoned Iranian teachers’ rights activist claims for a public trial14-09-2017

On 12 September 2017 Mahmoud Beheshti-Langroudi, the former spokesman for the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), was taken to Evin Prison in Tehran to serve the sentences that were handed down against him for his peaceful defense of labour rights. The imprisoned teachers’ rights activist pledged to continue his hunger strike until his 14-year combined prison sentence is reviewed in a public trial.
The Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced the 57-year-old to prison three separate times during the past ten years. Beheshti-Langroudi was first sentenced to four years in prison in 2007 for attending a demonstration alongside thousands of workers demanding better employment conditions; then, to five years in prison in 2010 for protesting the abuse of teachers’ rights in Iran; and, lastly, to another five years in prison in 2015 for participating in a peaceful teachers’ rights rally. He was previously arrested on 6 September 2015 to serve his sentences but was released in May 2016 after going on a 22-day hunger strike.

Iranian sugar plant workers detained without bail after protesting unpaid wages and benefits31-07-2017

Thirteen workers of the Haft Tappeh sugarcane company, one of Iran’s largest and oldest agricultural companies in the Khuzestan Province, were arrested on 26 July for demanding unpaid wages and benefits since April. While five workers were released the next day, eight workers remained in custody without bail. According to the Free Workers Union of Iran (FWUI), judicial authorities refused to reveal where the detainees were being held and rejected requests to release them on bail.
Employing more than 2,700 workers, the Haft Tappeh sugarcane company began operations under Iranian government control in 1961. In March 2016 the announcement of its sale to two private Iranian companies raised concerns among workers about possible job cuts. Since then, delays in salaries and benefit payments have led to several protests and subsequent arrests. On 26 April 2017 six workers were arrested at the plant and summoned to a court in Dezful on charges of “propaganda against the State”. On 25 May 2017 one of the detainees, Haft Tappeh Workers’ Union Board member Ali Nejati, was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence by the Revolutionary Court in Dezful.

Fifty steel workers arrested in Ahwaz during a protest11-06-2017

Around 500 out of the 4,000 workers of the Ahwaz steel factory organised a strike in front the military governor’s office on 8 June to protest the company’s refusal to pay five-month wage arrears and to finally settle the end-of-service compensation claims that have been outstanding for over six years. Security forces violently dispersed the protest and arrested 50 workers, while the company decided to replace striking workers by workers from other provinces. The 50 workers arrested were transferred to an unknown destination.

Suppression of freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression ahead of and on May Day 201701-05-2017

As it happened in 2016, on 1 May 2017 the Iranian authorities allowed once again only the State-sanctioned ceremonies to take place in Tehran and in a couple of other cities. Independent unionists were prevented from publicly commemorating May Day, including in Tehran where workers took part in a gathering outside the Parliament building that had been organised by the Free Union of Iranian Workers (FUIW). Police agents confiscated banners and placards demanding the release of imprisoned unionists Esmaeil Abdi and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and subsequently surrounded the marchers and confiscated their smartphones. They later arrested Valeh Zamani, a founding member of the Syndicate of Painters and Construction Workers of Alborz Province. He was released a day later. Moreover, the Syndicate of Workers of United Bus Company of Tehran and Suburbs organised a celebration at the Azadi Bus Terminal in Tehran on 1 May. Security forces surrounded the participants and harassed them by filming them as an attempt to keep record of the participants.
In Sanadaj, the provincial capital of Kurdistan province, Mr Sheys Amani, labour activist and board member of FUIW, was summoned twice in the final week of April to the Police Department and was informed that the union’s application to organise a separate march on 1 May would not be granted. Similarly, Mr Fars Gui’lian, another labour activist in Sanandaj, was summoned on April 27 and warned not to take part in “unofficial assemblies on May 1”. Mr Khaled Hosseini, a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations (CCHFWO), was summoned on 25 March and interrogated for several hours including about the union’s plans for Labour Day. On 1 May, police agents surrounded and harassed the participants of the May Day march in Sanadaj that FUIW, CCHFWO and the Bakers Association of Sanandaj had organised.

Independent trade union movement still faces regular acts of repression, executions and extra-judicial murder 15-12-2016

The Iranian free and independent union movement fights for fundamental labour rights, despite repression, imprisonment, executions, and extrajudicial murder.

The legal framework existing in Iran enormously limits independent trade union activity within and outside enterprises. The Iranian free and independent trade union movements still fights for fundamental labour rights while facing habitual acts of repression, imprisonment, execution and extrajudicial murder. Despite the theoretical recognition of freedom of association, independent trade unions are not allowed to be created and operate within the employers’ premises where only the government sponsored union of the Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran is allowed. This is in a socio-political context where workers that are suspected of being affiliated to independent unions are regularly dismissed and arrested. Any sort of collective action is repressed in violence and strikes are impeded by security forces, riot police and the militia. The government sponsors pro-regime Islamic Labour Councils, tripartite organizations containing worker and employer representatives and government appointees. These Councils manage centrally the system of industrial relations, practically operating as instruments of the state at the workplace. Therefore, they are hugely unpopular in the Iranian labour movement and vigorously opposed by independent trade unions.

Furthermore, the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – also known as the “Iranian Nuclear Deal” - in July 2015 brought a new challenge for Iranian workers: in order to attract foreign capital, the labour market has been further liberalised, weakening labour law protections and guarantees.

Several arbitrary detentions of trade unionists occurred in the holy month of October 26-10-2016

Several trade unionists were imprisoned in the month of October 2016 in Iran. Among others:

- on 7 October, Mr. Esmail Abdi, the secretary general of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Union received confirmation of a six-year prison sentence for “assembling and colluding against national security”.

- on 15 October, Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers and Mr. Shapour Ehsanirad were sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment each for “establishing unions and carrying out propaganda against the government”.

Of the latter two activists, Mr. Azimzadeh had already been sentenced in 2014 to six years of prison and to a two-year ban on any media and cyberspace activity.

Protesting mineworkers publicly flogged24-06-2016

The anti-union repression in Iran has become increasingly harsh in the last few years. In May 2016, 16 mineworkers of the Agh Dareh gold mine in the northwestern city of Tikaab were publicly flogged because they protested against the firing of 350 of their colleagues. Each miner received between 30 and 99 lashes after their employer filed a complaint against the collective action and the security services carried out the sentence.

Unfortunately, the practice of flogging protesting workers seems to be rather common in the country, another case occurring at the Bafgh iron mine for workers taking part in a protest back in 2014.

More prison sentences handed down to teachers22-02-2016

Esmail Abdi, General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA-Tehran) was sentenced to six years in prison by branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, presided over by the notorious Judge Salavati. The verdict was announced on 22 February 2016 , following a trial which began on 31 January. The charges against Esmail Abdi included “gathering and colluding with intent to harm public order” and “propaganda against the system”. The real reasons for his arrest and imprisonment, said his union, were his trade union activism as the general secretary of the ITTA (Tehran) and his leading role the teachers’ protests.
Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a spokesperson for the ITTA, Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli, both former board members of the ITTA (Tehran), were sentenced on 7 March 2016 by the Islamic Revolutionary court in Tehran. Each was sentenced to five years in prison by the trial court which is subject to review in the appeals court. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi was already serving a nine year prison sentence, which was ordered by Judge Salavati in a trial that last only a few minutes. Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli had been released on a three hundred million toman bail on 29 September 2015, following their arrest on 31 August.

Mine workers arrested for protesting at layoffs26-01-2016

Twenty workers at the Khatoonabad Copper Mine Complex in Kerman were arrested on 26 January 2016 for taking part in protests. The workers were arrested after they gathered to protest against unpaid wages and the dismissal of 130 contract workers, after a series of tests announced back in September 2015. On 13 February 2016, 23 of those arrested were released on bail.

Labour activist arrested02-10-2015

Hatam Samadi from the Coordination Committee for Establishing Labour Organisations was arrested on 2 October by plainclothes officials and transferred to an unknown location. His arrest was reported to his family by the Sanandaj Intelligence Bureau. The committee was established to help Iranian workers fight for their rights.

Additional prison sentences for persecuted union leaders16-09-2015

On 16 September Mahmoud Salehi, a founding member of the Bakery Workers’ Union in the city of Saqez (Kurdistan Province) who has been in and out of prison for the past 20 years, was sentenced to another nine years. He was out of prison on bail after being arrested on 28 April. He had lost a kidney during his previous imprisonment and it was feared that if he returned to prison he would die.
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations, and a children’s rights advocate, was sentenced to another 7 years, 9 months and 15 days in addition to a previous sentences. Ebrahimzadeh had been in prison since June 2010 when he was sentenced to five years for “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”. He is also in very poor health.

Former sugar workers’ leader arrested again15-09-2015

Ali Nejati, retired and former President of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Company Workers’ Syndicate, was arrested on 15 September 2015. His residence was raided and his personal items, including his computer and notes, were confiscated by intelligence agents. Mr. Nejati had previously been incarcerated a number of times for his trade union activities. This time he was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system”. Family and friends were concerned as they did not know his whereabouts and he suffered from long term heart problems, relying on medication. He was released on bail on 18 October.

Teacher’s prison sentence extended15-09-2015

Rasoul Bodaghi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), was sentenced to three extra years in prison in September, after having already served the five years in prison following his trial on 3 August 2010. He was originally sentenced to six years and banned for five years from social and cultural activities in 2010 for “propaganda against the state,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”

Union leader dies from ill-treatment in prison13-09-2015

Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organisations, was found dead on 13 September 2015 in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison in Karaj.
Shahrokh Zamani was originally arrested in June 2011 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for the crime of “spreading propaganda against the regime and forming socialist groups” and “endangering national security”. He was an active trade union leader, organising workers and defending their rights.
Shahrokh’s cellmate found his body, with blood in his mouth and nose, when he tried to wake him up in the morning. The authorities claimed his death was from natural causes.
Mr. Zamani had no health problems before entering prison, according to his daughter, but became increasingly unwell as a result of his treatment in prison. One year into his sentence, Shahrokh Zamani wrote a letter to labour and human rights organisations, describing the physical and mental torture he was subjected to. He also expressed concerns that his and other political prisoners’ lives were in danger. He staged hunger strikes in protest at his ill-treatment. Despite suffering occasional loss of consciousness due to his ill-treatment and torture, he was denied medication and had to wait a year to be sent for an MRI scan. He was also denied visitors, and suffered from the knowledge that his family faced endless harassment from the government.

More teachers arrested22-08-2015

Milad Darvish, labour activist and filmmaker and a member of the “Environmental Foundation for the Sanctity of Life” (and honorary member of the Teachers’ Union) was arrested by the security forces on 22 August 2015 following a raid by intelligence force on his parents’ home where he was living. He had been previously detained on 1 March after a gathering of teachers in front of the Offices of Education in Tehran, and he spent twelve days of detention in ward 2A in Evin prison. He was released on a bail of 50 million Tomans.
Mohmmadreza Niknejad, an executive member of the Tehran Teachers’ Association, and Mehdi Bohlouli, an independent teacher activist, were arrested in their homes by security forces on 31 August 2015. Some of their belongings, including laptops, were confiscated in the course of the arrest. Another member of the Teachers’ Association, Ali Hossein Panahei, was arrested in the city of Sanandaj.
On the morning of 6 September 2015, Mr. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran), was arrested by security forces at his home. Security forces searched his home and confiscated some of his belongings. ITTA (Tehran) reported that the day before his arrest, Mr. Beheshti Langroodi was part of a meeting between ITTA and Mr. Nobakht, President Rouhani’s Deputy, to discuss the problems teachers in Iran continue to face.
Ramin Zandnia, a member of ITTA (Kurdistan), was arrested along with his wife by intelligence forces in the city of Saqez on 15 October.

Esmail Abdi, head of the Iranian Teachers’ Association, arrested21-06-2015

Esmail Abdi, the head of the Iranian Teacher’s Association (ITA) had his passport confiscated on 21 June 2015 as he tried to travel to Armenia to obtain a travel visa to Canada. He had planned to attend Education International’s (EI) 7th World Congress in Ottawa in July. He was told he could not travel abroad, and to report to the prosecutor’s office. He went to the prosecutor’s office on 27 June and was arrested and imprisoned.
Mr. Abdi was then transferred to Section 2A of Evin Prison, run by the intelligence unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He was accused of "organising and participating in illegal gatherings” and was denied access to his family and lawyers under the new Code of Criminal Procedures. The Code restricts access to legal counsel during the investigative phase for detainees charged with national security related crimes.
Mr. Abdi and the ITA had been active in the wave of teachers’ protests rallies and had been warned back in May by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry that if the protests continued, he would be arrested. In addition to calling for decent pay, the teachers were pressing for the right of teachers to participate in educational policy development, an end to the privatisation of schools, and the right to bargain collectively for job security . They also demanded the release of the hundreds of teachers being held in prison. In August 2015 a deputy in the regime’s Ministry of Education admitted to holding over 1,000 teachers in prison.
On 22 July, over 2,000 teachers held another rally in front of parliament to protest the continued detention of activists. More than 200 teachers were arrested but were released soon afterwards.

Government interference, and nurses punished for protesting against low pay20-06-2015

The Ministry of Health informed several candidates for the College of Nursing elections on 20 June 2015 that they were disqualified from standing. They were informed by letters and phone calls shortly before the deadline for declaring their candidacy, leaving them only one day to appeal the decision. No justification was given however. The House of Nurses association believed it was a result of a year of protests by nurses over inadequate pay and benefits.
Two months later four hospital nurses at Tehran’s Amir Alam Hospital were dismissed for taking part in labour protests. The termination order was issued by the Tehran Medical Sciences Board of Administrative Offences. Two of the fired nurses were members of Tehran’s Nursing Association. Nurses had been demanding the implementation of the Nursing Tariff Act, which had been approved eight years earlier but had not been implemented due to the lack of an adequate budget.

Freedom of assembly and speech:19-06-2015

Unions are not permitted to distribute newsletters at their workplace. The internet is fully controlled and social media is filtered by the government. Jamil Mohammadi and Jaffar Azimzadeh who collected 40,000 signatures for a petition were sentenced for 3 and 6 years imprisonment.


At least 65 workers were arrested for peaceful and legitimate actions from April 2014 to March 2015 and sentenced to heavy prison sentences and corporal punishment.

Protesting mine worker dies after incident involving police tear gas16-06-2015

Workers’ representative Mohammadali Mirzai was killed in an accident with a coal trailer during labour protests in Zarand, Kerman, after police shot tear gas into the crowd. On 16 June more than 350 workers at the Madanjoo Company in Zarand staged a protest by blocking the road, after spending three months in a state of limbo with no work.
Eyewitnesses reported that police threw tear gas into the crowd in order to disperse the workers, and as a coal trailer tried to force its way through the protesters, it ran over Mirzai, who had been temporarily blinded by the tear gas.

The workers were demanding that either the mine reopen or that they all be placed on employment insurance, which the company has been refusing to do, saying the workers were only on contract and, therefore, were not entitled to insurance

Teachers’ leader Ali Akbar Baghbani arrested in crackdown on protests28-05-2015

On 28 May 2015 the Iranian Teachers Association (ITA) protested that its executive member Ali Akbar Baghbani had been arrested for criticising the government’s reaction to teacher protests and demands. In a statement the association wrote that “oppressive government institutions” were trying to stifle teachers’ protests by arresting activists and enforcing severe restrictions. The ITA stipulated that the protests were rooted in “a serious dissatisfaction with the “discriminatory treatment of teachers compared to other government employees”. The teachers were demanding pay increases that would put their wages in line with those of other government employees. The response of the government was to discourage the protests and conduct numerous arrests.

Arrest and dismissals for protesting at unpaid wages16-05-2015

On 16 May 2015 security agents arrested the leader of a strike at Safa Pipe Rolling Mill in the city of Saveh. About 1000 workers had gone on strike in early May demanding payment of 16 months unpaid insurance premiums and four months’ worth of late salaries. The employers had refused to pay even one month of their unpaid salary. They then proceeded to dismiss some of the strikers and by 23 May it was reported that at least ten workers had been fired for their role in the strike.

Bus workers’ leader receives further jail sentence and faces new charges15-05-2015

In May 2015, Reza Shahabi, treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburban Bus Company (Vahed Syndicate), was prosecuted and sentenced to a further year in prison. He was already serving a five-year sentence for “propaganda against the state,” and “collusion with the intent to act against national security” for his role in the dispute between the union and the bus company.
He had been on medical leave from prison following a back operation in September 2014, but was forced to live outside of Tehran, away from his wife and children. Then in December 2014 Reza was summoned to Evin prison’s prosecutor’s office and interrogated about a protest by prisoners in Evin prison on 17 April 2014. He went on trial, the sentence was handed down in May 2015, and upheld in December 2015 by the Appeals Court.
Reza remained on medical leave, but was again summoned to report to the Intelligence Ministry on 7 February 2016. A new file had been opened against him, for inciting workers and disturbing public opinion and order, because he went to the Ministry of Labour. He had applied to the Ministry to pursue his request to return to work which had been denied despite the Iranian government’s report to the ILO that he was free and had returned to work. He was also accused of going to City Hall for union related actions, of collecting union membership dues and distributing Vahed Syndicate’s newsletters.
Reza Shahabi was first arrested in 2005 for his participation in a bus drivers’ strike, then sacked. He was arrested again in 2010 and was banned from union activities for five years. Since then he has spent 22 months in solitary confinement, has been beaten and has been on hunger strike several times.

Labour leaders arrested in run up to May Day29-04-2015

Tehran Security Police arrested two members of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Ebrahim Maddadi and Davood Razavi, in their homes on 29 April 2015, and two other labour activists, Mahmoud Salehi and Osman Ismaili, were arrested in the city of Saqez in the Kurdistan Province on 28 April. On 25 April, plainclothes security agents in Sanandaj, Kurdistan, arrested the labour activist Reza Amjadi.
The arrests came against a background of mounting worker unrest over the impact on workers of international sanctions and economic mismanagement, with 70 per cent of workers below the official poverty line and 90 per cent of workers on temporary contracts. Over the preceding six months many workers had not been paid at all and it was calculated that between March 2014 and March 2015, there were at least 233 protests throughout the country, with strikes in the automotive industry, petrochemicals, mining, cement production, and other sectors, as well as the widespread teachers’ protests.
The response to such protest is to dismiss the workers, arrest the strike leaders, and send them to prison. With May Day imminent the government feared further unrest, viewing any labour mobilisation as a national security threat.
For nine years, labour organisations have not been able to obtain legal permits from the authorities to stage May Day parades. Workers have only been allowed to mark International Workers Day in programmes organised by the government.

Teachers’ leader Alireza Hashemi arrested 19-04-2015

Alireza Hashemi, head of the Iran Teachers Organization, was arrested on 19 April 2015 at his home and transferred to Evin Prison to serve a five-year sentence, originally handed to him in 2013, on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. Earlier in April thousands of teachers took part in protests in 37 cities in Iran, against poverty wages and discrimination. Ahead of the protests the clerical regime had summoned a number of teachers and threatened them not to hold public protests in current situation in Iran which the authorities described as ‘critical’.

Mine workers arrested for strike action09-02-2015

On 19 August 2014, nine mine workers were arrested for participating in a strike action in Bafgh Iron Ore Mine in Yazd against the privatisation of the company, which was going to have an impact on the working conditions of the miners. The strike ended with a violent intervention by riot police and the arrest and detention of the nine workers. Over 5,000 miners have downed tools in support of the detained workers who were arrested for taking part in a 40-day strike at the mine in early 2014. Workers also demanded that 15 per cent of revenue from the mine should be invested in the Yazd region.

Kidnappings and arrests09-02-2015

On 30 April 2014, authorities detained Messrs Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi. On May Day Parvin Mohammadi and Shapour Ehsanirad were arrested. All four are officials of the Free Union of Iranian Workers. In 2013, they organised a mass petition protesting the worsening conditions of workers and were among unionists who tried to organise a May Day demonstration. Parvin Mohammadi and Shapour Ehsanirad were released, but the other two remain in ward 209 in Evin prison. A number of other unionists were summoned for interrogations and were warned not to go ahead with the May Day demonstrations in 2014 in a number of cities across the country including Kurdistan Province.

On May Day the authorities arrested 23 members of the Tehran bus workers’ union the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, including Ibrahim Madadi, before they were transferred to the notorious Evin Prison, where they were released a few hours after.

On 2 May arrests targeted several workers, trade unionists and labour activists as well as their families and associates who were attempting to assemble for a social gathering on the first weekend after 1 May.

Twelve other unionists and labour activists are currently in prison in Iran and many others are facing long-term prison sentences merely for exercising their fundamental right to associate and to organise.

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Labour Unions (CPELU) and a child rights activist is serving five years in prison.

At least three members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations (CCHFWO), Messrs Yousef Ab-Kharabat, Mohammad Molanaei and Vahed Seyedeh, are serving prison terms in the Kurdistan province of Iran. Other members of the CCHFWO have been sentenced to prison terms from one to three and a half years and are appealing their sentences. They include Messrs Vafa Ghaderi, Ghaleb Hosseini Khaled Hosseini, Mohammad Karimi, Jamal Minashiri, Ghassem Mostafapour, Afshin Nadimi and Hadi Tanoumand.

At least five members of the Teachers’ Association of Iran (TAI) are now serving long-term prison sentences, namely Mahmood Bagheri (four and a half years), Rassoul Bodaghi (six years), Mohammad Davari (six years) and Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz (three years). Another member of the TAI, Abdolreza Ghabari, is serving a 15-year sentence after his death sentence for contacts with opposition groups abroad was commuted. Other leading TAI members, Messrs Ali-Akbar Baghani, Mahmoud Beheshti-Langaroudi, and Alireza Hashemi, have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment, which they have appealed.

Imprisonment of Reza Shahabi09-02-2015

Reza Shahabi has been in custody since June 2010 and is serving a six-year prison sentence. As a result of the brutal treatment he received when he was arrested in 2010, beatings and torture during interrogations and denial of medical treatment, Reza is suffering from a number of health problems. These include liver and kidney dysfunction, severe pain in his back, and a loss of sensation in his left leg which limits his ability to move, wash himself or even go to the toilet without help from others. In August 2012, Reza received an operation on his spine; however, contrary to doctors’ recommendations he was sent back to prison. A subsequent examination by a state medical examiner officially declared that the discs in three vertebrae of his spine were destroyed and that he should be immediately hospitalised and operated on. In October 2013, Reza was examined by specialists at the Imam Khomeini Hospital, who prescribed immediate physiotherapy and hydrotherapy outside prison. They emphasised that without this treatment, severe physical disorders including loss of sensation and disability in the left part of his body were probable.

He has now been transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj.

Release of mine workers from Chadormalu Mine09-02-2015

In January 2014, security forces arrested over 20 workers of the Chadormalu Mine in the central province of Yazd, including the head and the secretary of the labour union, who stopped work as part of a contract negotiation and dispute.

More than 3,000 workers have demanded a pay increase that is compatible with the inflation rate, as well as overtime pay. Bahram Hassaninejad, the Secretary of the union, was dismissed from his job during earlier protests over this issue in November 2013. The protest grew wider after Hassaninejad’s dismissal, and his return to work became another demand in addition to the pay increase and back pay.

On 26 January 2014, the Ardakan Labour Office Determination Committee confirmed Hassaninejad’s dismissal order, sparking new protests among the mine workers. On 29 January, security forces summoned and arrested 20 workers who they implied had been instrumental in launching the initial protests. The remaining workers continued their sit-in, and on 30 January, four additional workers from among those who were holding a sit-in at the factory site, Ramin Heydarjan, Behzad Talebpour, Mahmoud Dehghan, and Ahmad Nasirpour, were also arrested.

Imprisonment of trade union leaders12-08-2013

Last April, more than 50 teachers and educational workers were in detention or were summoned and awaiting their court hearings related to “national security” or “union activities”. 46 journalists were imprisoned and are still in various jails across the country. The jail terms range from 6 months to 19 years and the charges range from “Insulting the supreme leader” to “Assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” or “Moharebeh (waging war against God), propagating against the regime”, and even “Anti-state charges related to work in documenting violations of human rights”.

Mohammad Tavakoli, Secretary of the Kermanshah Teachers’ Guild Association was arrested in February 2013 and recently sentenced to exile from his home province. Previous harsher cases include the earlier detention of teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari who was tortured, ill-treated and for a long time denied access to a lawyer. Mr. Ghanbari was tried unfairly by the Tehran Revolutionary Court in January 2010 and sentenced to death for ’Moharebeh’.

Shahrokh Zamani, a labour activist, was arrested on June 7, 2011, sentenced to 11 years in prison, and transferred to various prisons, and is now banned from face-to-face visitations and phone calls.

On 15 June, 60 members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations and a number of labour activists were arrested in Karaj. The detainees were transferred to Rajai Shahr prison where some were reportedly beaten and ill-treated.

Infringement of the right to freedom of expression30-06-2012

In June 2012, the Ministry of Industry, Mining, and Commerce sent a letter to trade unions and associations involved in the production and distribution of goods, banning them from giving interviews to the media about inflation rates.

Threats against and detention of journalists30-11-2010

In February, the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ) stated that at least 34 journalists remain in prison, including two women Nazanin Khosravani and Hengameh Shahidi. In January reports emerged of the arrest of Dr. Fariborz Raisdana, a labour activist and a member of the Iranian writers’ association and the Centre of Defenders of Workers’ Rights. In February, security forces arrested two journalists, working for Shargh, the only remaining reformist newspaper. Also in February, the former head of the Iranian news agency was arrested while four more journalists were detained for questioning.

In March, Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi, Iranian journalist member of the Central Council of the Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan, also signatory to the “One Million Signatures Campaign”, was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly “acting against national security” and “propaganda” while Abdolreza Tajik, journalist and human rights activist, was sentenced to six years in prison, for “membership in an illegal group”; and one year for “propaganda” and “publishing false reports”. Partly in response to their coverage of the demonstrations, Jay Deshmukh, the AFP deputy bureau chief in Tehran, was expelled from Iran in April and stripped of his press card along with ten other correspondents.

In December, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a worldwide prison census for journalists, declaring the Islamic Republic of Iran as the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars. However other estimates give figures of around 100 journalists imprisoned since 2009.

Independent teachers’ unions fight uphill battle30-11-2010

Since 1999, separate independent teacher associations have been formed, and in 2001 the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations (CCITTA) was founded. In 2007, teachers’ protests led to the harassment, detention and incarceration of labour activists, and many suffered pay cuts, were dismissed and forced to retire. The Interior Ministry has since issued a ban on all teachers’ associations. Even though the associations have never been formally dissolved by court, intelligence officers insist that the associations have been liquidated by the government and that the teachers should resign from them. Several teacher associations have been crushed by the intelligence service, but some, such as the associations in Tehran, Esfahan and Kermanshah, remain active. Often, union meetings are either dispersed or supervised by officers from the intelligence service. Discrimination against unionised students has also been reported.

Right to organise heavily suppressed30-11-2010

The government relies on “security laws” to suppress any public expression of dissent. Many activists have been convicted of “propaganda against the state” and “jeopardising national security” by the Revolutionary Courts without any respect for international or Iranian fair-trial standards. While the government-backed Workers’ House or Islamic Councils consistently fail to address issues such as rights at work, privatisation, structural adjustments, low salaries and wage arrears, workers who try to organise independently are subjected to different forms of harassment, including violence, arrests, detention and potentially lengthy prison sentences. Security and intelligence forces are often present at workplaces to intimidate workers, and reports of trade unionists’ mistreatment by prison authorities are common.

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