Statement in solidarity with workers in Iran
June 15, 2016
The information in the accompanying document has come to our attention, and we would like to protest the flogging sentences against Agh Dareh Gold Mine workers in Iran and to express our serious concerns about health and wellbeing of Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh, an anti-capitalist labour activist and chairperson of the Board of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, who has been on hunger strike since April 29, 2016.
Jafar Azimzadeh has been serving a 6 year prison sentence in Evin Prison since November 2015 merely for his labour activities. He was charged with “assembling and colluding with intent to act against national security”; this seems to be one of the key charges that the Iranian government has routinely been using against labour activists. Jafar is on indefinite hunger to protest against the fabricated charges of “gathering and colluding with intent to act against national security” and other security-related charges against himself and other labour activists and to denounce the ever-increasing anti-worker policies of the Iranian government.
As stated above, we are extremely outraged over the brutal flogging sentences against 17 Agh Dareh Gold Mine workers in Iran which were carried out publically in May 2016. These workers were protesting their right to job security and protection against layoffs. What’s more, we have been informed that nine Bafgh Mining Company workers in Yazd Province have also been sentenced to imprisonment and tens of lashes in recent days. Their sentences for the time being has been suspended but will be carried out if they breach court orders. Bafgh mine workers (Iran Central Iron Ore Company Bafgh) were prosecuted following their strike actions that started in 2014. Such inhuman sentences against protesting workers are the gross violation of every internationally recognized convention and achievements on the rights of workers and human rights in general. Flogging is an extremely cruel act and a form of torture and must be stopped and banned immediately.
We are deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of Jafar Azimzadeh and other jailed workers in Iran and call for their immediate and unconditional freedom. The Iranian government is responsible for the life of Jafar Azimzadeh and other political prisoners. At the same time, we are sincerely urging Jafar Azimzadeh to end his hunger strike; the struggle for workers’ right is strengthened when the labour movement’s activists are alive and well.
The above statement was first signed by the following renowned scholars and labour/ progressive activists on June 15, 2016. Signatories in alphabetical order:
Greg Albo, Department of Political Science, York University & Co-editor of the Socialist Register;
Kevin B. Anderson, Professor of Sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara;
Cyrus Bina, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics, University of Minnesota, USA & Fellow, Economist for Peace and Security;
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), The Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
John Clarke, Organizer, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty-
Steve Early, Labour activist & journalist, lawyer and organizer, USA
Bill Fletcher Jr., Talk show host, writer & activist (USA);
Safia Gahayr, Chair – International Solidarity Committee, CUPE Ontario;
Sam Gindin, Retired Assistant to the President of Canadian Auto Workers (now UNIFOR) and the former Packer Chair in Social Justice at York University;
Brad Hornick, PHD Candidate, Simon Fraser University, active with System Change Not Climate Change;
Boris Kagarlitsky, Sociologist & Marxist theoretician, Director of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements
Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus, Economics Department, Simon Fraser University, Canada;
David McNally, long-time left scholar-activist; Professor, Department of Political Science, York U;
Derrick O’Keefe, Author and Journalist, Editor at Ricochet Media;
Piergiorgio (Pier) Moro, Secretary, Australia Asia Worker Links;
Mike Palecek, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers;
Leo Panitch, Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University & Co-editor of The Socialist Register;
Misagh Parsa, Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College, USA;
Herman Rosenfeld, writer, educator, and activist; member of Socialist Project;
Ingo Schmidt, Academic Coordinator of the Labour Studies Program at Athabasca University, Canada;
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation;
Michael Yates, Associate Editor of Monthly Review