From the International Alliance in Support of Workers Rights in Iran
Iranian security forces and Kerman Province's special guards brutally attacked protesting workers at the Nazkhaton's Copper Smeltery in the City of Babak, Province of Kerman on 23 January killing at least four and injuring dozens more.
The attack was a bloody response to a sit-in and protest action held by the company's contract workers and their families, including many elderly women who were there to support their children. The company has decided to lay off all their contract workers, which are almost entirely residents of this small city, despite its continued operations and hiring.
All the main Iranian news agencies and newspapers covered this incident and President Khatami was forced to send a delegation to probe it. However, the residents of the city continued their protests despite the heavy presence of army and special guards of the regime across the city.
There have been clashes with the security forces in different parts of the city and scores of people have been arrested. The city is half closed and people have been gathering in front of the residences of the murdered workers demanding immediate identification of those responsible for their killings.
There is an overwhelming lack of trust towards Khatami's delegations since they have never been accountable and sincere in the past. There have been numerous similar cases, where these types of delegations ended up blaming the victims as well as exonerating those responsible amongst the authorities from any wrongdoing.
The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran does not have any credibility to probe into such gross violations of human and workers' rights.
We are therefore asking international labour organizations, particularly ICFTU and other global unions and their affiliates, to protest against these inhuman actions of the authorities of the Iranian government, and to demand an independent delegation representing labour and human rights' organizations to directly investigate the situation that led to the shooting, killing and injuring of workers and their families and to identify those responsible for this butchery. There are a number of issues for consideration in this process:
- The role that the Governor of Kerman and the City of Babak's authorities played in this incident.
- Helicopters were used prior to and during the shootings. Where did these helicopters come from and who ordered their raid on protesting workers?
- How many people exactly lost their lives and how many were injured? Unofficial news reports 7 to 15 dead and up to 300 wounded.
- How many people have been arrested in total? According to several reliable sources, a number of those arrested had been tortured.
- The families of those lost their lives must receive compensation. Both the Company and the governor's office as well as the government of the Islamic republic of Iran are responsible for this harm.
- The role that the government's privatization policies and practices have played in creating unsafe and insecure conditions for working people should be taken into account. The temporary contracts imposed by companies and their subcontractors have left hundreds of thousands of workers in Iran with no job security and benefits. The government is in violation of numerous internationally recognized labour and human rights regarding their responsibilities towards the citizens of Iran.
- Lack of independent workers' organizations and the right to strike have caused much pressure and anxiety to workers and their families because they feel their voices are unheard and repressed. So-called labour groups, such as the "Islamic Labour Councils", "Workers' House" and "guild associations", are not recognized by Iranian workers because they are sponsored by and linked to the government and do not represent the interests of the working class in Iran.
- The current relationship between the International Labour Organization and the Iranian government, particularly with the Ministry of Labour, needs to be examined by the labour groups within the ILO and through other means to preclude any justifications of the anti-worker and oppressive policies and practices of the Iranian government.
Please send protest letters to:
Mohammad Khatami, President
Islamic Republic of Iran, Palestine Avenue, Azarbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Iran
Please copy your letters also to us at:
International Alliance in Support of Workers' Rights in Iran, P O Box 1164, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 2P4, Canada