Iran: Widespread support for Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers' protests from youth and shopkeepers

As the workers organised a march of protest, youth, shopkeepers and people from other layers of society in Shush (in Khuzestan province, southern Iran) began joining the ranks of the workers. The shopkeepers all shut up their shops and supported the workers. According to eyewitnesses 10,000 people took part.

According to reports received from Shush city this morning, on the 13th day of their strike and protest, the workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company and their families protested in front of the city's Governor General's office. At first the workers and their families gathered in front of the Governor General's office and then an hour later began marching towards the city centre and the bazaar. During the protest march youth, shopkeepers and people from other layers of society in Shush (in Khuzestan province, southern Iran) began joining the ranks of the workers.

The city's shopkeepers all shut up their shops and supported the workers. According to eyewitnesses 10,000 people took part in today's demonstration. People with their own slogans joined the workers. Today's slogans included: "Workers are prepared to die but won't accept hardship", "Trade unions are our absolute right", "Jailed workers must be freed", "Iran's workers, support us", "Down with Saedi" (the MP for Shush) and so on.

The repressive forces targeted women, children and other layers in the demonstration and attacked them with clubs and tear gas. But despite the violent and consistent assaults by the security forces and police the people continued with their rally and repelled the repressive forces. Many people were injured during these clashes and Intelligence Ministry agents arrested two workers.

The security forces and police asked for reinforcements and the Dezful police chief, Maken Ali, gave the order to attack people. The Governor General of Shush was present and was threatening workers but the people did not let him speak. They put him in his place with a new slogan: "Bin Laden get lost".

At present thousands have gathered in front of the Governor General's office in Shush city and are continuing with their protest. It has been said that this protest march is the biggest demonstration in Shush's history.

The demands of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers are as follows: - Payment of two months' unpaid wages. - An end to the gathering of legal dossiers and summoning workers to court. - Sacking the general manager of the company, a mollah named Yaghoob Shafiee, and the whole management committee. - Sacking the security chief of the company, a person named Zibdari, who has had a direct role in the beating, spying and gathering of dossiers on workers.

We must keep up the pressure on the management of this state-owned company and the Iranian government to accept all the workers' demands and to drop all charges against them.

Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network 17 May 2008 

[Source: Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran]

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