Following a protest by laid off contract workers at the Khatoonabad copper smelting plant four workers were shot dead by riot police. It is feared that in addition to this official figure many more workers may also have been killed. The number of injured are said to be around 300, including many seriously injured people.
The workers, who were demanding permanent jobs, began their protest on 5 January. Then following promises made by the plant's management, which did not come to anything, the workers protested again on 17 January. The protesters were also joined by their families and in total 200-500 people gathered outside the plant in Khatoonabad village, near the town of Babak, in Kerman province (in south east Iran).
Today the response of the Iranian government has been to use riot police, special police units and helicopters to kill and maim workers and their families to break up the protest. Death and serious injury is what awaits working class families for simply demanding their basic rights.
We call on all trade unionists, labour activists and progressive groups and individuals to condemn this barbaric act and to help us in organising solidarity action in support of the Khatoonabad copper workers.
Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network
25 January 2004
BM IWSN, London WC1N 3XX, England.