Yesterday, September 20, there was a very good response to the appeal sent out by the Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network to organise protest pickets outside the Iranian embassies. See the reports below. The day of action was organised in support of the seven worker activists facing trial in Saghez, Iran. The action undoubtedly embarrassed the Iranian diplomatic authorities, who are busy trying to portray the Iranian regime as one that respects basic human rights. The European Union is also trying to sell the same story.
In the last year asylum seekers from Iran in countries like France and Belgium have been rejected on the basis that Iran is a “safe country”. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are a worker and trade union activist that stands up for workers’ rights, Iran can be a very dangerous place. Proof of that was the killing of the Khatoonabad workers earlier this year.
The trial of the seven Saghez worker activists, which is due to start this Thursday, September 23, highlights the real plight of Iranian workers. Their brothers and sisters, their comrades from several countries around the world, including important trade union leaders, turned up at the gates of Iranian Embassies and Consulates yesterday. They were there to protest at the treatment of Iranian workers and to bring petitions signed by many workers demanding the dropping of all charges against the seven Saghez worker activists, Jalal Hosseini, Mahmood Salehi, Mohsen Hakimi, Borhan Divangar, Mohammad Abdipoor, Esmail Khodkam and Hadi Tanoomand.
As you can see from the reports at some of the Embassies promises were made that this protest would be brought to the attention of the authorities in Iran. The supporters of the IWSN campaign should make sure that this is followed up on with phone calls and letters demanding to know what is being done about this case.
Note: We are also waiting for a report on the picket in Mexico City, which we will publish later.
September 21, 2004
Massive youth rally in Multan in support of the Saghez workers
To show their solidarity with the Shegaz worker comrades suffering under the brutal repression of the fundamentalists in Iran, YFIS-Pakistan (Youth For International Socialism), the PTUDC-Multan (Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign), in collaboration with the PSF-Multan (People’s Students Federation), organised a rally. Despite the hot summer day, the rally revealed a great enthusiasm on the part of the participants, and according to local political activists it was the biggest youth rally to be seen in Multan for the last 10 years.
The rally started off from the Wilayat Hussain Degree College and it moved along its scheduled route. Along the way the Aam Khas Bagh High School students left their classes and joined the rally. These youngsters warmed up the mood and the morale of all those taking part. It was the first time ever they were taking part in political activity. Their response to the slogans and aims of the rally and their approach were extraordinary. The school and the area around it echoed with revolutionary slogans, especially “Long Live the Socialist Revolution”. This teenage, heated atmosphere, broke the deep silence of decades. The so-called “childish” activism of the 6th to 10th class students surprised the oldies all around. It transformed the rally into a big demonstration.
The march moved on and again along the way the students of the Higher Secondary School Dolat Gate and the Alamdar Hussain Degree College joined in and boosted the morale and mood of the rally. Revolutionary slogans were becoming louder and more rhythmic.
At the famous Ghantaghar Chowk (centre of the city) the rally stopped for more than one hour and here a big group from the Bahaudinzikrya University, together with trade union workers, joined the rally. The participants warmed the atmosphere with their revolutionary slogans, while leading youth and trade union leaders spoke to the rally and demanded an immediate end to the trial of the Iranian comrades and announced their full support and solidarity with their struggle.
For here the rally continued its journey and it ended at the Civil Lines College. The route of the rally covered a distance of five kilometres. All along the route it aroused the surrounding area, despite the searing heat of the sun. This undoubtedly shows and proves that nothing can stop the desire to mobilise.
It was for the very first time that the youth had mobilised in such big numbers and with such a high morale, and had rallied for an international issue. It once again proves the internationalist spirit of the youth. The response and the contributions of the youth and the workers present demonstrated that no borders, no states, no nations, no racial barriers, no religions, can stop the integration of the youth and workers of all countries if they are provided with an ideological basis for internationalism.
Long live internationalism, long live world socialism!
Vigorous protest outside gates of Iranian Consulate in Lahore
On September 20 leading Pakistani Trade Union and political activists took their protest to the Consula General of the Iranian Consulate in Lahore, presenting him with a petition, signed by 500 signatories, against the unlawful trial inflected by the Iranian regime on the workers of Seghaz.
Shahida Jabeen, General Secretary of the People’s Labour Bureau, Ehtashan ul Haq of the Employer’s Union CBA, Rana Ebad of NOOP (Pakistan Post), Usman Khan of the National Bank Union, Hina Zain of Youth for International Socialism (YFIS) arranged a meeting with the Third Consul, Mr Syed Hussain Mirdegham, at the Iranian Consulate in Jail Road, Lahore to register their protest.
Mr. Mirdegham greeted the delegation at the gates of the Consulate and listened carefully the arguments of the petitioners. At first he denied the reports that such a trail was being held in Iran. He examined the petition and was shocked to discover that a wide range of signatories, ranging from Trade Union activists, Members of Parliament, students, Newsmen, and Media men, along with ordinary housewives and workers, had registered their protest.
Shahida Jabeen pulled out different press cuttings to prove that the trial is indeed being organised and showed the Consul what was really happening. After a heated argument, but in a friendly atmosphere, Mr. Mirdegham assured the delegation that he would send the petition to higher authorities in Iran. He also served tea and further assured the visitors that their protest letters will be sent to the Foreign Office of Iran in Tehran.
Later in the evening a protest demonstration was held in front the Lahore Press Club by YFIS-Pakistan and the PTUDC to highlight the issue. Trade Unionists and Students and political activists attended the rally. They chanted slogans against the Iranian regime and in solidarity with the workers in Iran who are being put on trial. They also called for workers’ unity throughout the whole world. The demonstrators dispersed in a peaceful manner.
Long Live workers Unity! Long Live the Socialist Revolution!
Anam Asad (Youth for International Socialism in Multan)
Saqlain Shah (Asian Marxist Review in Lahore)
September 20, 2004
Picket outside the Iranian embassy in London
On the same day as activists in several countries across three continents gathered to protest against the sham trial of the Saghez workers and activists, a number of trade unionists and political activists gathered outside the Iranian embassy in London.
The picket included trade unionists who have been following the Iranian workers’ struggles for their just demands for a number of years. They have consistently lent their support to various campaigns like the Esfahan textile workers three years ago, the Behshahr textile workers’ hunger strike, the state killing of the Khatoonabad copper workers and the general campaign for workers’ rights. Of course, since May, these comrades have also been active in the international campaign for the defence of the Saghez workers and activists.
The activists handed a petition signed by the representatives of over one and a half million British workers to the embassy staff. One of them, Mr Eskandari, pretended not to have heard about the trial(!). He was given a copy of the Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network leaflet, which includes a summary of the trumped up charges, to ‘enlighten’ him. He promised that the petition and the protest letter will be passed to the ambassador and the British trade unionists’ protest against this trial will be passed to higher authorities.
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
September 20 2004
Athens protest picket against the trials of the Iranian workers of Saghez
Yesterday, September 20, 2004, a delegation of Greek trade unionists and activists held a protest picket out side the Iranian Embassy in Athens. Among those participating in the picket were Dimitris Voulis a leading trade union cadre of the Ambulance Workers’ Union, Dimos Dimarogonas, member of the executive committee of the trade union federation of workers in the Ministry of Culture, Nikakis Dimitris member of the executive of the Shop Workers’ Union, and Tsintonis Takis trade union cadre of the museum workers, and others.
During our presence there, the first secretary of the Embassy met us and we handed him our protest letter demanding the immediate end of the legal proceedings against the Saghez workers. We made it clear to him that this “visit” was only a first taste of what could come later, and that our intention was to mobilise on a very large scale if the persecution of these workers should continue, and that we would take this question into the unions, the Greek TUC, the Greek Parliament and the European Parliament.
He told us that he would investigate the question and that he believed that this would be an easy question to solve. He promised to let us know as soon as possible any new developments.
We agreed with the other comrades that we will continue the campaign if the Saghez workers continue to be harrassed.
With militant greetings,
Spyros Gougoussis, Athens, September 21, 2004
Picket in front of the Iranian Embassy in Madrid
Yesterday, September 20, an hour-long picket was held outside the Iranian Embassy in Madrid with 30 workers and youth taking part. It was organised in protest at the trial that is to be held of the Saghez worker activists on September 23.
On the main banner, signed by both the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Student Union) and El Militante, the slogan read “Freedom without charges of the Iranian trade unionists”. The main slogans that were chanted were “trade Union freedom for the Iranian workers” and “the working class has no frontiers”.
In spite of the very heavy police presence (6 National Police vans, a car of the Civil Guard and a car of the Municipal Police) the protest was peaceful but with a very militant mood.
We were not able to hand in a written protest letter with a long list of signatures, which we had collected during the solidarity campaign, because the Civil Guard insisted that there was no personnel in the Embassy apart from the doorman! However, we did see that from one of the windows of the Embassy someone was filming the picket!
We insist with our demands that the trade union activists, Mahmood Salehi, Mohammad Abdipoor, Borhan Divangar y Jalal Hosseini, must be free and with all charges dropped. We will continue our campaign until this objective is reached
Long live the struggle of the Iranian workers!
Stop the repression of the Iranian labour movement!
See also the Spanish report Concentración frente a la embajada de Irán en Madrid
Protest picket at the Iranian embassy in Vienna
Today seven representatives of several district organisations of the Vienna Young Socialists who support the international solidarity campaign in support of the Iranian Saghez workers, gathered in front of the Iranian Embassy in Vienna (in Jauresgasse 9, 1030 Wien) to demand the immediate release of Jalal Hosseini, Mahmood Salehi, Mohsen Hakimi, Borhan Divangar, Mohammad Abdipoor, Esmail Khodkam und Hadi Tanoomand who were arrested after Mayday.
On Saturday at the congress of the Socialdemocratic Party of Vienna, activists of Der Funke and the Vienna-Alsergrund YS branch had collected some 100 signatures for a protest petition supporting the campaign. Among the supporters of the campaign are high-ranking Socialdemocratic Party and trade union officials such as Norbert Scheed (secretary of the GPA, the trade union of white collar workers) and Hans Pürstinger (shop steward of the postal coach drivers).
These signatures were handed to a representative of the Iranian embassy and the activists demanded from the embassy an investigation into the case of the Saghez workers.
Also present at the picket were activists of the AL – Antifascist Left – who have also organised a solidarity campaign for a worker called Ismail Mohammadi who risks being executed for being a supporter of Komala, a left wing organisation in Iranian-Kurdistan.
Der Funke and its activists within the Young Socialists will be following up this campaign. Today’s picket was only the beginning!
Freedom for the Saghez workers!
September 20, 2004
Picket in solidarity with the Saghez activists in Milan
This morning, September 20, a delegation of FalceMartello (the Italian Marxist journal) supporters went to the Iranian Consulate in Milan, in Piazza Diaz, to protest against the sham trial due to take place this week against the Saghez agtivists.
We had a meeting with the Consul, Mohammad Reza Mofatteh and handed him a list of all the signature of trade unionists, workers and youth that we have collected over the last few days. We expressed all our concerns about the conditions of the working class in Iran, the present trial being just one small example of what the Iranian workers have to suffer.
The consul said that “in a country of seventy million people a mistake could always happen,” and he promised to send all the signatures to Teheran. Then he added that if the trial goes ahead he would be with us “to demonstrate for the seven accused”. It is clear that such a case of blatant violation of workers’ rights is very embarrassing for any diplomat in Europe who wishes to portray Iran as a “democratic country”.
This is only the first step in our campaign in support of the Saghez workers. We will continue to stress, as internationalists, the importance of defending the rights of our brothers and sisters everywhere in the world.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
Milan, September 20, 2004
Venezuela: letter of protest
In Venezuela the Corriente Marxista Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Marxist Current) produced a statement and a letter to Chavez, NO a la represión contra la clase obrera de Irán. The letter was taken to Chavez and was a direct request for him to take up this question with the Iranian authorities. The comrades in Venezuela are also taking up the question with the Iranian embassy.
Protest letter and signatures to ambassador of Iran
This morning a representative of the campaign in solidarity with the Saghez worker activists visited the Iranian embassy in Brussels. The purpose was to hand in a list of signatures to a letter protesting about the treatment of the Saghez worker activists and demanding the dropping of all charges. The ambassador was not available but the letter of protest was taken by the ambassador’s secretary who also listened to an explanation of what it was about, and promised to hand it over to the ambassador. We will be following up this case and demand to know what is being done.