Iran: protests in the face of repression

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2009 - 4:08 Author: Gerry Bates

Popular pro-democracy protests have once again flared up in Iran on 7-8 December, with state authorities clamping down hard on activists — many of them students — by using arrests and violent repression.

The actions took place to coincide with the annual commemoration of the killing of three student activists during protests in 1953 against the USA (and also against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, then the ruling “Shah”, who came to power after a CIA-backed coup). The protests seem to be mostly associated with the “green movement”, organised around oppositional Islamist politicians. Hundreds of people were arrested as the regime lashes out at a movement it tried unsuccessfully to silence in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s highly disputed re-election this summer.

The protests came against the backdrop of the government’s programme of arrests, tortures and executions of political activists. Before the demonstration, women involved in a “mothers of political prisoners” organisation were arrested.

The government is also clamping down on Iran’s workers’ movement. At the end of November, Pedram Nasrollahi and Farzad Ahmadi were arrested for trade union activity in Iranian Kurdistan. Farzad has since been released, but Pedram remains imprisoned in Sanandaj jail.

Several leaders of the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate are also currently incarcerated in Dezfol prison. The struggles of the Haft Tapeh workers, and many others across Iran, focus on issues such as the unpaid. Workers tend to protest inside or outside their workplaces, rather than the streets. International working-class solidarity is vital to support Iranian workers’ resistance to an increasingly brutal regime. As Ali Netjai, one of the Haft Tapeh workers’ leaders put it:

“Workers have no recourse but to rely on their own resources and create their independent organisation through cooperation with other workers. Whenever workers are facing problems, such obstacles could be resolved only through workers’ support and workers’ power.”

In the new year the AWL plans to join Iranian socialists in concrete action to make solidarity with Iranian workers. If you want to get involved and find out more, contact us.

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