Free Haft Tapeh Five!
Free all jailed workers!
(See sample protest letter)
*Ali Nejati’s last letter before his imprisonment and the request for support and solidarity:
Support for incarcerated workers is support for all workers!
Everyone is aware that Haft Tapeh workers in the past few years, to achieve their demands, have resorted to strikes and protests; demands such as payment of unpaid back wages, payment of over-time work, and the right to create independent workers’ organization.
We are aware that to achieve such demands and goals our only remedy is unity and establishment of workers’ organizations autonomous from management and the state.
Based on our own experience and the accumulated experience of our fellow workers in Iran and other parts of the world we came to the conclusion that if there’s an opportunity to defend workers’ rights, such prospect, before it’s turned into its opposite, shall be utilized. But many organizations and institutions that are working in name of working people are more akin to a mirage meant to keep workers content, simply put such organizations are there to deceive workers, so workers instead of relying on their own powers and their class mates would foster useless hopes and illusions.
In Iran, for years workers have been forced to have one and only one organization called Islamic Labour Council. When membership, by-laws and everyday functioning of this organization must be approved by state and even management, then how could we have any hope of this formation defending workers’ rights? Because management and the system that supports them do not wish workers to obtain the rights and wages that are due.
Workers have no recourse but to rely on their own resources and create their independent organization through cooperation with other workers. Whenever workers are facing problems such obstacles could be resolved only through workers’ support and workers’ power.
In the previous letter I had mentioned that representatives of Haft Tapeh workers are being incarcerated only and only because of their efforts to establish independent workers’ organizations and their defense of worker’ righteous demands. Naturally their families during these six months need support from other workers.
My emphasis here is on material-spiritual support only from workers and no other place. This is based on the belief that workers should come to assistance of each other, since we have no one but each other to rely on.
**Workers who want to help the five incarcerated workers and their families, in any amount that’s feasible for them, could deposit their financial assistances in my bank account (account # 0302895180008- SIBA- National Bank of Iran, Haft Tapeh Branch, Code 6579).
In my opinion, after years of struggle our experience has reached such a level that now we can institute as a working class tradition, the necessity of workers helping each other whenever we are faced with any problems.
We at Haft Tapeh,- in accordance with the responsibility that workers have delegated to us through elections and General Assembly in November 2008, have struggled to defend their rights and demands as their representatives.
We have been accused of propaganda against the establishment and actions against national security. Everyone knows that we have had no demand other than workers rights. They have condemned us to prison. As of now four members of the board of directors of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate are incarcerated in Dezfol prison, and me the fifth one shall join them in a short time and begin my sentence.*
I am aware that during these times we have had many strong and weak points in our activities. I have personally always encouraged learning from other workers’ experiences, and constructive criticism. I’m still hopeful that concerned workers will assist our activities through their ideas and opinions. Of course at times instead of a critique,- as a balanced review of strong and weak points, and more importantly as viable and feasible suggestions to promote our struggle, I have heard some ideas, so out of context and illusory that in the real world there will never be an opportunity for workers to put any of them into action. Although on the other hand our friends’ opinions and experiences were extremely valuable for all of us.
It is my hope that during the next six months, in addition to financial aid, and more importantly moral and spiritual support, - by staying away from marginal debates- all workers and activists will unite to defend the rights of Haft Tapeh workers and their representatives. We shall not allow such jail sentences against us and other incarcerated workers, such as Messrs Osanloo and Madadi, - members of the Syndicate of Workers of Vahed Bus Company -, go on without any protests from the workers. While inside the prison we shall hear of your actions and take courage from them.
Endeavoring for evermore unity of workers
President of the board of directors for Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate
21st of Month of Abban
November 12, 2009
City of Shoush, Province of Khouzistan, Iran
* Mr. Ali Nejati was arrested at a court in the city of Shoush on November 14, 2009 and subsequently transferred to the Dezful prison (comment added by the translator).
** The above account is in Iranian rial and any money that is deposited to this account from abroad and in different currencies will be frozen until Mr. Nejati is released from prison. Therefore, the best way for workers outside Iran to provide financial support to Haft Tapeh imprisoned workers and their families is to do it through trustworthy and reliable workers in Iran that they may know. These trustworthy workers in the country can then deposit the money in the above account or may directly give the donation to the families of jailed workers. (Comment added by the translator, IASWI)
Pedram Nasrollahi and Farzad Ahmadi arrested
On November 12, 2009 Pedram Nasrollahi, who is a labor activist in the city of Sanandaj, was arrested after his work on the way home. He was reportedly beaten by the intelligence forces and taken to the Sanandaj central prison. Mr. Pedram Nasrollahi, who is a member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations in Kurdistan, had been arrested in December 2008 and released on bail in April 2009.
On November 19, 2009, Mr. Farzad Ahmadi, who is also a labour activist in city of Sanandaj was arrested by intelligence forces and after beatings he was taken to the Sanandaj prison as well.
Sample Protest Letter
Free Haft Tapeh Five!
Free all jailed workers!
I am writing this to strongly protest against the imprisonment of five leaders of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Syndicate in November 2009. According to the latest news, five members of the board of directors of “Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate” by names of Feridoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour, Mohammad Haydari Mehr and Ali Nejati have been sent to jail and are currently incarcerated in Dezfol prison. Feriadon Nikofard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour and Ali Nejati were charged and condemned to six months imprisonment and six months suspended sentences and Mohammad Heydari Mehr has received four months prison and eight months suspended sentence; all this only because of their efforts to form an independent labour organization.
Workers in the state-owned Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Complex in the past few years had frequently resorted to strikes and protests to meet their demands including payment of unpaid wages, payment of over-time work, and the right to create independent workers’ organization. During this time, workers’ representatives were arrested and harassed numerous times, sacked from work and finally the above labour leaders were jailed in an absolutely unjustifiable manner. They were accused of propaganda against the establishment and actions against national security.
I (we) condemn these continuous attacks on an independent labour organization and its activists. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of the Haft Tapeh Five. I (we) also demand the freedom of all other jailed labour activists including Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi, Farzad Kamangar, Pedram Nasollah and Farzad Ahmadi.
I also ask the Iranian government to fully respect people’s human rights as well as workers’ rights to organize, assemble and strike and put an end to persecution of labour and social activists in Iran.
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