Free Political Prisoners, Human Rights, Solidarity with Workers

Statement to American People on the International Day of Solidarity with Workers in Iran (5 November 2013)

(image from archives)

(image from archives)

You may have heard in the news that the regime in Iran is showing flexibility: the chief thug, Rouhani, selected a Jewish member of Iran’s Congress to join him at the recent UN General Assembly meetings in New York. Rouhani’s speeches indicate an apparent willingness to negotiate with the West on the issue of nuclear enrichment. And several political prisoners have recently been released, among them the beloved and courageous Houtan Kian, who defended Sakineh Ashtiani from being stoned to death.

You might ask yourself why you are seeing this new flexibility. The Western media will try to tell you that the new “president,” Rouhani, is ushering in a more moderate era. The Western media may credit the crushing pressure of economic sanctions for these signs of flexibility from the regime.

But the more important pressure that has caused this regime to show a different face to the world – a flexibility, indeed, desperation – is the inevitability of a revolution. It is the internal danger of an uprising that has caused the regime to show this different face. The new face of the regime in Iran that you may see now is only a shiny veneer reflecting the workings of a part of the regime that thinks that by working with the West, they can convince people inside Iran that revolution is not possible.

The fact that the regime has released political prisoners is first and foremost due to pressure from inside of Iran, and from the international supporters working on behalf of prisoners, making detainees like Nasrin Sotoudeh national celebrities. Under peoples’ pressure, to gain the upper hand, and also to show themselves in another light to the international community, they released a handful prisoners.

We are grateful for each and every one of these releases. But these are only a few prisoners of 800-900. And while the worlds’ media is content to report on the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, and the exuberant reactions of world leaders to the release of a handful of political prisoners, it dutifully overlooks the fact that the regime has not stopped, not for one single day, the harrassment and arrests of activists, including labor activists. It has not stopped the terroristic executions. The fundamental brutality of this regime remains unchanged, as exemplified by its crimes over the past month:

October 1: Three people were hanged in the prison of Ardebil (north-western Iran). One man was hanged in the prison of Shiraz (southern Iran). One man and one women were hanged in the prison of Mashhad (northeastern Iran.

October 3: Six people were hanged in the prison of Yazd (central Iran).

October 5: Two people were hanged publicly in the city of Babol (northern Iran).

October 8: Two people were hanged in the prison of Ahwaz (southwestern Iran).

October 9: One person was hanged in Fasa in southerrn Iran, and three people were executed in the city of Rasht.

October 14: One person was hanged in Ilam.

October 26: Eighteen political prisoners including Habib Golparipour, Reza Esmaili, and 16 unnamed political prisoners in Zahedan were executed by the Islamic regime.

October 30: One person was executed by hanging in Khorrambad (in the capital city of Iran’s Lorestan province), while another person was executed in Sari Prison. Another person was hanged in the prison of Semnan (Northern Iran); eleven prisoners among them two women hanged in Urmia; at least three prisoners were hanged in the Adelabad Prison of Shiraz; one woman and one man were executed in the Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj.

November 4: Political prisoner Shirko Moarefi was executed in Saghez (western Iran), and five other people were executed in Kermanshah.

November 5: Two people were executed in Semnan (northern Iran), six people were hanged in Kerman (southeastern Iran), and one person was hanged in Birjand (eastern Iran).

Since the new year, at least 489 people have been executed by the regime in Iran, half of these since Rouhani was “elected.”

Nothing about this regime has changed except the name of the so-called “president.”

We ask American people to continue their pressure against the regime in Iran, to make sure that workers of Iran and political activists of Iran who languish in prison are known, to defend their cases, and make sure that they are not forgotten.

We raise the names of worker activists such as Reza Shahabi, an executive board member of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company; Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a labor and child rights activist and member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations in Iran; Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the member of the House-Painter Workers’ Union of Tehran who stood up for workers’ rights; Mohammad Jahrahi, a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organizations in Iran; schoolteacher’s unionist Rasoul Bodaghi; Pedram Nasrollahi, a labor rights activist convicted on charges of attempting to establish a labor union; Mehdi Rahimi, a labor activist from the oil refinery of Tehran; and Alireza Hashemi, the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Iran.

These are only examples; there are many more arrests, imprisonments, and long-term sentences for doing nothing more than demanding ones’ rights. This is the reality of the Islamic regime in Iran today, despite the pretense of releasing political prisoners and denying its nuclear ambitions.

We ask the American people to support workers in Iran through letter-writing and petitions. Ask your unions, your organizations, or the government to contact the authorities in Iran to demand release of jailed workers and all political prisoners in Iran.

We also ask the American people to force the United States government to stop the economic sanctions against the Iranian people. The sanctions enrich the supporters of the regime while having wrought absolute economic destruction on poor and working class people in Iran.

Mission Free Iran
5 November 2013

A flyer to raise awareness and take action in support of workers in Iran is embedded below:

View this document on Scribd

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