Message from Iranian Workers' Free Trade Union

Message from Iranian Workers Free Trade Union

23 June 2009

ftuiw1Forty-eight days have passed since the suppression and arrest of workers’ gathering on International Labour Day – May Day. During this time our country has witnessed important events and we witness widespread and amazing changes in the social movement.

During their televised debates the presidential candidates repeatedly accused each other of violating citizens’ rights, embezzlement, theft, mismanagement, and incompetence. But none of them had any objection to the laws that have allowed the disastrous events affecting the majority of the population. None of them had any objection to legislation that takes away a worker’s right to strike, sets his wages at a quarter of what is the government’s poverty line, takes away the workers right to set up their own organisations, allows mass lay-offs, forces workers to sign blank contracts a one-month temporary contract .

The presidential candidates failed to take up issues regarding freedom of speech, the right to choose one’s dress, and hundreds of other inhuman laws that today govern our society. When they raise any issue it was in a superficial way, every one of them attempted to clear himself and accuse the others, as if his opponent had been more strict than himself. In all those debates, clearly and in confronting each other, the candidates themselves proved that they accept all the current laws and conditions and that their only quarrel is on who should be in power.

Therefore, we workers, under the present conditions, when social protests have taken the form of a mass and a huge movement has come on the scene to achieve its demands, see it as our right to put forward the demands of fellow workers and to raise our banner. These demands are as follows:

  1. Immediate increase in the minimum wage to over 1 million tomans [$1010] a month.
  2. An end to temporary contracts and new forms of work contracts.
  3. The disbanding of the Labour House and the Islamic Labour Councils as government organisations in the factories and workshops, and the setting up of shoras [councils] and other workers’ organisations independent from the government.
  4. Immediate payment of workers’ unpaid wages without any excuses.
  5. An end to laying-off workers and payment of adequate unemployment insurance to all unemployed workers.
  6. The immediate release of all political prisoners including the workers arrested on May Day, Jafar Azimzadeh, Gholamreza Khani, Said Yuzi, Said Rostami, Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz, Kaveh Mozafari, Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, and an end to surveillance and harassment of workers and labour leaders.
  7. The right to strike, protest, assemble and the freedom of speech and the press are the workers’ absolute right.
  8. An end to sexual discrimination, child labour and the sacking of foreign workers.

Workers! Today we have a duty to intervene, to pose our demands independently and by relying on our own united strength, together with other sections of society, to work towards achieving our human rights.

The Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers

New Rally planned in Iran

We reprint this article from Al-Jazeera English as it provides good information on unfolding developments within the opposition…

Middle East Iran protesters plan new rally

Supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated main opposition candidate in Iran’s presidential election, have called for a protest outside parliament in Tehran in defiance of a government ban. The rally was scheduled for 4pm (13:30 GMT) on Wednesday in one of the capital’s main squares after the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body, said that the results of the disputed poll would not be annulled. The planned gathering will be a key test of whether a government crackdown, which has left at least 19 people dead, has quelled the angry demonstrations that followed the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incumbent president.

basiijnewAlthough streets protests have diminished since police and pro-government militias used tear gas, batons and water cannon against protesters on Saturday, calls for further protests among supporters of Ahmadinejad’s opponents have continued. Cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) were again heard across Tehran overnight, a symbolic gesture echoing a tactic used during the Islamic revolution in 1979. Nazenin Ansari, the diplomatic editor of the Kahylan newspaper, told Al Jazeera that the fall in numbers gathering to protest was understandable given the “degree of repression on the streets”. “Without a doubt, although there are not millions gathering on the streets because of the indiscrimante fire and repression, this is going to transform,” she said. “In provinces, where people were before gathering in universities, in recent days were are seeing people gathering in main squares.”

Complaints withdrawn

Mousavi, a former prime minister, and the two other candidates in the election have all filed complaints to the Guardian Council about alleged problems with the June 12 vote. But on Wednesday, Mohsen Rezaie, the conservative candidate who finished third in the election, withdrew his objections. “I see it as my responsibility to encourage myself and others to control the current situation,” the official IRNA news agency reported Rezaie as saying in a letter to the Guardian Council. “Therefore I announce that I’m withdrawing my submitted complaints,” the former head of the Revolutionary Guard said. Rezai had originally complained that he had won more votes than he had been credited with when the interior ministry declared the results. “I think he wants to remain in the framework of the Islamic republic – the framework that conservative newspapers are trying to push Mousavi and Karroubi out of,” Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said. “Mohsen Rezaie intends to stay close to the core of the Islamic republic and shwo his allegiance to the supreme leader by obeying his call that the elections are over.”

‘No major fraud’

Despite Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, agreeing to extend the deadline for filing election complaints by five days, a spokesman for the Guardian Council has said that there will not be a fresh vote. Iran unrest online Social media is playing a crucial role in Iran’s crisis. “If a major breach occurs in an election, the Guardian Council may annul the votes that come out of a particular affected ballot box, polling station, district or city,” Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted as saying by Press TV, an Iranian government-funded station. “Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election. Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place,” he said.

Mehdi Karroubi, who came in fourth in the poll, according to official results, has called for Iranians to hold ceremonies on Thursday to mourn those killed in the protests. His call came after Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a dissident religious leader who is under effective house arrest, announced three days of national mourning from Wednesday. Montazeri was once named successor to Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini, but fell out with the founder of the Islamic Republic shortly before his death in 1989. Barack Obama, the US president, on Tuesday repeated his remarks that the world was watching events in Iran and said that how Tehran handles dissent from its own people “will help shape the tone, not only for Iran’s future, but also its relationship to other countries”.

June 23 – The Revolutionary Guard fail to scare the people off the streets

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Written reports will follow.

From the hospital workers' strike

“من پزشک هستم و در بیمارستان رسول اکرم در خیابان ستارخان مشغول به
کارم. دیروز تعداد 38 نفر به دلیل
اصابت گلوله در اورژانس بیمارستان ما پذیرفته شدند که 10 نفر آنها کشته و
بقیه زخمی بودند. الگوی زخمها حاکی از این بود که مردم به رگبار بسته شده
اند زیرا بسیاری از مجروحین دو یا چند گلوله خورده بودند و محل اصابت
گلوله ها نیز بسیار نزدیک به هم بود، به عنوان مثال پیر مردی 68 ساله در
دو ناحیه کتف چپ و سمت چپ شکم مورد اصابت قرار گرفته بود و یا پسری 18
ساله از ناحیه کف و مچ دست هدف قرار گرفته بود. شرح حال اخذ شده از
مجروحین و نیز الگوی زخمها نشان می داد که تیر اندازی از پشت بام انجام
شده است، مثلا جوانی 32 ساله از کمر مورد اصابت قرار گرفته بود ولی گلوله
از جلو و از قسمت ران خارج شده بود.

بنا به گفته مجروحین تیر اندازی به طور ناگهانی و زمانی آغاز شد که سیلimage001
جمعیت در حال عبور از کنار یک پایگاه بسیج در شمال میدان آزادی (اول
بزرگراه محمد علی جناح) بود. به گفته مجروحان یک اتومبیل در مقابل درب آن
پایگاه به شکلی پارک شده بود که کسی نتواند با شکستن در وارد آن شود و
این امر نشانه برنامه ریزی قبلی برای تیر اندازی می باشد. به گفته شاهدان
حدود 4 نفر بسیجی از پشت بام این مرکز به طور ناگهانی اقدام به تیراندازی
نمودند به نحوی که حتی کسانی که قصد نجات زخمی ها را داشتند خود نیز مورد
اصابت قرار می گرفتند. یکی از مجروحین می گوید در حالی که پشت یک اتومبیل
پناه گرفته بودم زخمی شدم.

در این مرحله مردم خشمگین به اتومبیل پارک شده در مقابل این پایگاه حمله
کرده و آنرا به آتش می کشند ولی نمی توانند وارد پایگاه شوند. در ادامه
پلیس ضد شورش به همراه گروه های دیگری از بسیجیان برای پراکنده کردن مردم
خشمگین از راه می رسند که در این مرحله نیز در قسمت هایی از طول خیابان
جناح (به عنوان مثال در نزدیکی مترو) عده دیگری نیز کشته و زخمی می شوند.

طبق اطلاعاتی که امروز صبح از پزشکان بیمارستان امام خمینی کسب شد، به
این بیمارستان نیز در طی دیشب 38 کشته که با گلوله مستقیم کشته شده بودند
منتقل شده است.

لازم به ذکر است که در بامداد امروز پلیس امنیتی تمامی جنازه ها را به
زور از بیمارستان تحویل گرفته و آنها را با وانت به محل نا معلومی منتقل
کرده است و خانواده بسیاری از آنان حتی از کشته شدن فرزند خود نیز بی
خبرند. در بین کشته ها و مجروحین تعدادی کودک 15 و 16 ساله نیز دیده می
شوند.

امروز ساعت 9 تا 11 صبح دانشجویان و پزشکان بیمارستان رسول اکرم در
خیابان مجاور این بیمارستان تجمع کرده و به توزیع برگه هایی حاوی
اطلاعاتی پیرامون تعداد کشته ها و زخمی ها اقدام نمودند. این تجمع در
نهایت با حضور پلیس ضد شورش به پایان رسید”.

"Natarsid! Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!" – Another day of defiance in Iran

Defiance
Defiance

Thousands of people defied bullets, batons and death and came out onto the streets shouting “Natarsid! Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!”  (Don’t be scared! Don’t be scared! We are all together!). June 20 saw the mass murder of demonstrators by security forces, it is unclear how many people are dead as estimates range from 11 to 150. With media outlets severely restricted it could be some time until we are given the true number. State organs such as Press TV have described the murdered protesters as “terrorists”. HOPI received an eye witness report of  yesterday’s violence which can be found here. We will try to acquire eye witness reports of today’s events, until then below is a brief outline of some of today’s events.

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Around 50,000 people converged on the United Nations office where the police attempted to disperse the crowd, however, they were met with rocks and barricades.  A candle lit vigil for those killed yesterday in Hafte Tir Square was attacked by police.  Fights and demonstrations broke out across Tehran, protestors in the South of Tehran on Fallah Street were attacked by special officers. It has been called a middle class rebellion by some commentators, as the South of Tehran has been quiet compared to the more affluent North of Tehran, today proved them wrong as young people and workers gathered in Eslamshahr to march towards the centre of Tehran. All across the South of Tehran fights broke out with today as thousands marched against the brutality of the Islamic Republic.
In the squares of Tehran security forces were again waiting for demonstrators, at Vanak and Enqelab demonstrators were viscously attacked by police and Basij, whilst outside of Tehran in Sanandaj, Saqz, Kermanshah and others, thousands of people have fought running battles with the police. As the night drew in, people took to their roofs and shouted “Marg Bar Diktator” (Death to the dictator) and “Allah Akhbar” (God is great).

“We did not give blood to give up now” – Eye witness report of June 20 Repression

Hands Off the People of Iran received this report from an activist in Tehran this evening. We have added some videos which have been spread across the internet.

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Sayyid Ali Khamenei in his speech yesterday said: there has been no cheating in the elections and that people are not going to get their demands through demonstrating in the streets. Many people were waiting to see what he was going to say, especially the reformists, and he made it very clear that he is on Ahmadinejad’s side, so it is not very hard to guess that reformists are backing down eventually and what we saw today in the streets of Tehran is very different than what we saw during the last weeks.

Many of the reformists who had been a part of demonstrations for the past few weeks and had said they will not stop protesting till they get their demands were not among people who were fighting and dying for freedom in the streets of Tehran today.

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The demonstrations started in the centre around 4 o’clock the police (including the official city police all three branches of Sepah and Basijis in plain clothing) had already settled in all the main squares and streets. We saw many members of Basij with plain clothing armed to the teeth ready to kill people who came in groups of 5-10 and stayed in corners at first you could say there was about 10,000 people around Enqelab Square (Revolution Square) who had not joined each other yet. What happened was like 3500-4000 people would gather and form a demonstration start yelling out things like: “We did not give blood to give up now” and “Khamenei you Pinochet Iran is not going to be Chile”. But none of the gatherings could last long because the police would hit people and Sepah would shoot people, and members of Basij stabbed people.

People who lived in the neighbourhood had left their doors open so injured people and the ones followed by the police could get in. It was the same in many other places, in Tehran at Tohid Square the police were settled in a bus and shot people from there, people who did not even carry weapons and had came to the streets just to have a calm demonstration to defend their basic rights as citizens and human beings.

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In Azadi square (Freedom Square) people were numerous and were also attacked, injured and killed by the police, but today the demonstrations were not only held in the city centre, they were spread out in most places of Tehran: Vanak Square, Ferdosi Square, Shahrakegharb, Tehranpars, Ariashahr and many other neighbourhoods. Tehran was a scene of ordinary people and even children fighting against the police, unarmed and unprotected, but brave and willing to sacrifice anything even their lives for freedom. People had burned down cars and other vehicles that mostly belonged to police, tear gas cannisters was fired in every place that people had gathered. Many of us had never seen so many members of Basij in all our lives. The regime had gathered all of its forces and supporters to kill its own citizens wildly in the streets. People stayed in Azadi and Vanak Square till 12 midnight and there are still battle going on in some streets.

Many people are in hospital, were the police are making a list of their names. Many of the activists are arrested and some have disappeared. Today the Islamic Republic showed every one once again, that they will not obey peoples will and they are ready to kill as many as it takes to stay in power. Some on the Left will support the Islamic Republic against us and Western Governments may try to meddle, their support is poisonous, the Iranian people will decide their fate alone, against imperialism and against the Islamic Republic. We do need the support of our comrades across the world. The people showed that they want more than just tiny reforms, they want what has been taken away from them all these years, they want their freedom and their dignity back. A regime that is so afraid of  the majority of its citizens that kills unarmed people in the streets is not a regime that could last and we will take on this fight till we are a free nation.

Mass protests in Iran: Death to the Islamic Republic! Victory to the Iranian people!

Yassamine Mather, Hopi chair, looks at the social upheaval englufing Iran and the tasks of internationalists

The election campaign of the four presidential candidates was largely ignored by the majority of the population until early June, when a series of televised debates triggered street demonstrations and public meetings. Ironically it was Mahmood Ahmadinejad’s fear of losing that prompted him to make allegations of endemic corruption against some of the leading figures of the religious state, including former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, former interior minister and adviser to supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei.

In doing so he crossed one of the red lines of the Islamic regime. Once that was done, the floodgates were open. The language used by all three of his opponents – Moussavi, Karroubi and Rezaii – became more colourful. As Ahmadinejad continued to rail against 20 years of corruption and political and economic interference by the “economic mafia” associated with important figures, including Rafsanjani (currently chairman of the ‘assembly of experts’ charged with electing the supreme leader), his opponents wasted no time in using equally strong language to condemn his own presidency, pointing out the worsening economic situation, mass unemployment and 25% inflation, as well as Iran’s “embarrassing international profile”.

28th Khordad-June 18th-08In response to these accusations, Ahmadinejad’s election campaign made some historic claims. Apparently he is the man who brought Islam to Venezuela and Latin America! He has secured a written apology from Blair (prompting a denial by the foreign office). And he is the only president who is so feared by the US that it has been forced to drop regime-change plans for Iran. At times Iranians must have thought their president and his supporters lived in a parallel universe.

In just 10 days the two opposed factions between them managed to expose every unflattering aspect of the 30-year-old Islamic regime. No-one in opposition could have done a better job – no-one else had such in-depth knowledge of the levels of corruption and incompetence prevalent among the inner circles of power.

It was unprecedented for the authorities, including Ahmadinejad’s government, to tolerate the various election gatherings and slogans. But the eyes of the world were now on Iran and the regime put on a show: Bassij militia and Islamic guards turned a blind eye to women who failed to adhere to Islamic dress code for the duration of the campaign. Comrades and relatives inside Iran were telling us the atmosphere was like the pre-revolution days of 1979. Political discussions were held at every street corner, political songs of the late 70s became fashionable amongst a generation born long after the February uprising.

Those who had advocated a boycott of the elections were constantly reminded that it was the mass boycott of the 2005 presidential elections that had allowed Ahmadinejad to come to power. Consequently many life-long opponents of the regime reluctantly decided to vote, if only to stop the re-election of the incumbent. On polling day the regime’s unelected leaders basked in the euphoria of a large turnout, yet they were already facing a dilemma: how to keep control in the post-election era.

If Mir-Hossein Moussavi did become president, those who voted for him would expect serious change and the supreme leader was well aware that neither he nor the new president would be able to meet expectations. That is why he and the senior religious figures around him decided to do what most dictators do: rig the elections and declare Ahmadinejad the winner. Nothing new in such measures; but the supreme leader and his inner circle made two major miscalculations: they underestimated the anger and frustration of the majority of the population; and they failed to realise that the high turnout could only mean a massive ‘no’ to Ahmadinejad and, by proxy, to the entire Islamic order.

Added to this was the sheer incompetence of the vote-rigging. In previous presidential elections, the vote had been announced province by province. This time the results came in blocks of millions of votes. Throughout the night the percentage of votes going to all four candidates changed very little. It seemed obvious that the interior ministry was playing with the figures to make sure the overall percentages remained constant.

Early on Saturday morning, the supreme leader congratulated Ahmadinejad, which was seen as official endorsement of the results. But by Sunday afternoon, under the pressure of impromptu demonstrations, he was forced to reverse this decision, and called on the council of guardians to investigate the other candidates’ complaints. By the afternoon of Monday June 15, with a massive show of force by the opposition – over a million demonstrators on the streets – he was instructing the council of guardians to call for a recount. By Tuesday there was talk of new elections.

Had our supreme leader studied the fate of that other Iranian dictator, the shah, he would have known that at a time of great upheavals, as in 1979, once the dictator hesitates and dithers he loses momentum, and the thousands on the street become more confident.

The slogans and militancy of demonstrators in Tehran and other Iranian cities is today the driving force in Iran – and not only for the supreme leader and his entourage. These slogans also dictate the actions of the so-called ‘official opposition’. The meek, scared Moussavi, whose initial response to the vote-rigging was to seek a reversal of the results by the “centres of Shia religious guidance”, suddenly gained courage and appeared at Monday’s protests. After promising that he would protect people’s votes, he could not ignore the tens of thousands who on Saturday and Sunday were shouting, “Moussavi, return my vote”, “What have you done with our vote?” and even one of the students’ slogans, “Death to those who compromise”.

28th Khordad-June 18th-06There can be no doubt that Ahmadinejad’s press conference and victory rally on Sunday played a crucial role in increasing the size of the anti-government demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday. As riots were taking place all over the capital, the reference to Iran as a “very stable country” reminded many of the shah’s claims that Iran was an island of tranquillity, less than a year before he was overthrown. In response to a reporter’s question about protests in Tehran, the president referred to his opponents as “dust and tiny thorns”. A comment that he will regret forever, as the huge crowds on Monday and Tuesday kept taunting him.

Demonstrators in Tehran are also shouting slogans adapted from those of 1979, often prompted by leftists and students: “Tanks, guns, Bassij are not effective any more”, “Death to the dictator”, “Death to this regime that brings nothing but death”. Clearly the supreme leader’s standard response of bussing in supporters from the countryside to put up a well-orchestrated show of force (as they did for Sunday’s and Tuesday’s pro-Ahmadinejad rallies) does not work any more. Sunday’s event failed miserably, with reporters claiming that many of those arriving by bus could only speak Arabic. By Tuesday some of Ahmadinejad’s non-Iranian supporters arrived at the rally with yellow Hezbollah flags. As Mr Ahmadinejad has no supporters amongst Sunni Arabs in the Khouzestan province of Iran, if these reports are correct one could guess that participants at the state-organised rallies included the thousands of Shias invited in June every year from Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan to participate in the events commemorating the anniversary of the death of Khomeini.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next few days. However, one can be certain that nothing will be the same again. No-one will forget the fact that both factions crossed many ‘red lines’, exposing each other’s corruption, deceit and failure. No-one will forget the obvious vote-rigging that makes a mockery of ‘Islamic democracy’ – when Moussavi called it a “charade” he was only echoing the sentiments of the masses.

On Tuesday another presidential contender, Mehdi Karroubi, said: “This week ‘the republic’ was taken out of the Islamic regime”. No-one will forget that the immediate response of the regime to peaceful protests was to arrest, beat up and shoot opponents. No-one will forget that at least seven people have been killed in these protests.

There is little doubt that Moussavi /Karoubi/Khatami and Mohsen Rezaii will look for compromises and will ultimately sell out. However, these protests have gained such momentum that already in Tehran people compare the plight of Moussavi (if he does become president) with that of Shapour Bakhtiar – the last prime minister appointed by the shah, whose government lasted a few short weeks before the revolution overthrew the entire regime.

However, before the British left gets too excited and starts sending its blueprints for revolution to Iran, let us be clear about some facts: working class organisation remains very weak during this crucial period; most of the Iranian left is as confused and divided as it was in 1979, but now, of course, it is much smaller. Repression against labour activists and leftist students is harsher than ever.

Yet students’ and workers’ organisations have been very active in the anti-government demonstrations and they have managed to change some of the slogans of the protests, turning anti-Ahmadinejad slogans into slogans challenging the entire Islamic ‘order’. There was talk of a one-day general strike. However the organisations discussing this decided to try to improve the left’s intervention in current events before contemplating such ambitious calls. We should not expect miracles, but one can see that unlike the Iranian exile left (some of whom have benefited from the largesse of organisations offering regime-change funds, while others have tailed rightwing-controlled international trade unions) the left inside Iran has been conscious of the revolutionary potential of this period and, given its relative weakness, is doing what it can to make an independent, principled, but systematic intervention. That is precisely why the authorities’ attacks on university campuses, where the left is strongest, have been so severe; and why we must do all in our power to support comrades in Iran.

When it comes to predicting Iranian politics, no one can claim to have a crystal ball. However, it is reassuring to see that the unique position Hands Off the People of Iran took – against imperialism, against the threat of war and for the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic regime – has been vindicated by the events of the last two weeks. Imagine what would have happened if during the last year we had witnessed a military strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear industry, or various US plans for regime change from above had materialised. Political Islam in Iran and the region would have been the undisputed winner of such a scenario. We were right to argue that positive change can only happen from below and from inside Iran and we will continue to maintain this position.

28th Khordad-June 18th-04At the same time, these events have exposed the ignorance of groups such as the Socialist Workers Party, whose leaders kept informing us about the virtues of Islamic democracy in Iran. We have seen the selection of candidates by an unrepresentative nominated council of guardians; the role of the supreme leader in inventing the results of an election; and the brutal repression of legal and official opponents. If that is what the regime can do to its own, one can imagine the kind of treatment reserved for its opponents.

But even under the threat of beatings and executions, an overwhelming majority of the Iranian people have shown that they do not believe SWP-type apologia. No-one in their right mind should ever make such claims again. Hopi’s judgement was correct and we did not compromise our principles; that is why, now that the Iranian working class is in need of international solidarity more than ever, we are in a good position to help deliver it.