The following is Mission Free Iran’s statement on the occasion of May 1st, 2015 – International Workers’ Day. It was delivered during an action outside of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s offices in Washington DC.
We are here today to recognize and celebrate May 1st – International Workers’ Day. We honor all those working to advance the rights, well-being, and social equality of working people – the 99 percent of us. We recognize the dignity of all work, and we stand with those who demand a living wage, whether it is here in the United States with the inspiring Fight for $15, or in Iran, where workers have been routinely going on strike to demand months of unpaid backwages, and teachers and nurses are protesting around the country for parity in employment conditions, while all known labor activists have been jailed.
In every country in the world today, people are working themselves to the bone, day in and day out, in a grueling effort to attain only the most basic necessities of life for themselves and their children, while corporations and corrupt government officials pocket dollar after bloody dollar that has been squeezed from the veins of the working poor and their children.
So today, in recognition of May 1st, we honor workers, and especially those who organize and fight for workers’ rights under the worst of conditions.
As you can see, we are standing in front of the offices of the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the worst human rights and labor rights offenders in the world.
During 36 years of repression by the brutal, corrupt, and barbaric theocratic regime, we have also witnessed 36 years of Iranian people rising up against the Islamic Republic, demanding a humane form of governance. The demands of people continue, day in and day out, and their voices are growing ever louder.
Although the smooth-talking President Rouhani is portrayed as cool and comfortable by the fawning cameras of the Western media, he along with the rest of the regime is terrified, because they know that Iranian people, especially the working class, have been pushed to their limits.
The regime’s desperation is reflected by the increased use of its standard repressive measures against society on multiple fronts – specifically, execution, gender apartheid, and suppression of workers:
– Executions in Iran are at an all-time high. For example, by May Day in 2012, the regime in Iran had executed 136 people that we know of. By May Day in 2013, the regime in Iran had executed 138 people. Subsequent to Rouhani’s election, we see that by May Day in 2014, 237 people were executed by the regime, and by May Day of this year, 2015, 332 people were executed – more than double the rate of executions under the butcher Ahmadinejad! Executions are this regime’s primary tool to terrorize and repress the society in Iran, and the regime’s desperation can be measured by the number of lives it extinguishes at the gallows.
– In terms of reinforcing the existing gender apartheid in Iran, there are new laws that have been introduced in an effort to further repress women and their participation in schools, the labor force, and society in general. By repressing women’s participation in society, the regime hopes to eliminate the social and political force of half of the society, and cripple the strength of the men who remain.
– In the regime’s effort to repress the worker’s movement in Iran, labor leaders and activists have been persecuted, arrested, jailed, beaten, and tortured. The regime targets the leaders of the worker’s movement because the worker’s movement is the most visible force in society that is organizing and mobilizing against the barbarity of the regime, in defense of their very existence.
Yet despite the repression of the regime, in addition to the impoverishment that is intentionally and maliciously imposed on the poor and working class, for the first time in 8 years, workers in Iran defiantly went out by the thousands to publicly demonstrate on May 1.
Despite the arrests, beatings, and torture of their comrades, workers have continued to organize, strike, and protest.
This strong continuation of the workers’ movement demonstrates without a doubt that although the regime in Iran has done its utmost, it cannot stop the workers’ movement: it is too broad, and there is too much at stake. The regime in Iran has pushed the working class too hard, shoving them closer and closer to the edge of existence, and for the sake of its own survival, the working class is pushing back.
And workers in Iran are not alone – activists and organizations around the world, large and small, stand with them in solidarity, including
– TSSA, the British transport union, with 22,000 members
– FBU, the British firefighters’ union, with 40,000 members
– NUT, the national teachers union with 300,000 members
…and many, many more.
Today, in our celebration of May 1st and in our celebration of the working class movement in Iran, in the United States, and around the world as we join together in a common struggle, we demand a dignified life and a living wage for all workers.
We demand equal pay for equivalent work regardless of the sex, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation of the worker.
We demand an end to the multi-dimensional repression of the poor and working classes, from Sandtown, Baltimore to Darvazeh Ghar, Tehran, and everywhere in between.
We say no more! to executions in Iran and worldwide.
We say down with gender apartheid in Iran.
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all jailed workers, including:
Sharif Saed Panah
Saeyd Shirzad… and too many others to name.
Long live May 1st.
Long live socialism.
Long live freedom.
Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran.