28 protesting workers of Khatoon Abad Copper Mines in custody since January 26, 2016
And a tribute to slain workers of “Khatoon Abad”
28 protesting workers of Khatoon Abad Smelter (Khatoon Abad Copper Mines) were arrested on January 26, 2016. According to available reports, so far there are no official updates on their situation. The 28 arrestees were part of a larger group of workers who had organized demonstrations in order to protest against the layoff of about 170 contract workers who had been previously promised permanent positions.
Khatoon Abad Copper Mines, owned by National Iranian Copper Industries Company, is part of a major industrial complex which is controlled by the state. Many Khatoon Abad workers have been on temporary contracts throughout the years and their efforts for achieving better job security and wages have led to minimal results. As workers in Iran do not have the right to organize independent worker organizations, they primarily rely upon their own resources as well as ad-hoc actions to fight for their rights. This has historically put them in a vulnerable situation.
In spite of these systemic barriers, Khatoon Abad workers have a history of fighting back against unjust corporate practices and governments’ and security forces’ repressions for many years. On January 23, 2004, Iranian security forces and Kerman Province’s special guards brutally attacked protesting workers in the town of Khatoon Abad and the city of Shahr-e-Babak in Kerman Province, killing four workers and a minor and injuring dozens others. The attack was a bloody response to a sit-in and protest action held by the Khatoon Abad’s Copper Smelting plant’s contract workers and their families. The killing of Khatoon Abad workers became a turning point in the recent history of the Iranian labour movement. In 2004, we witnessed an upsurge of labour activism and the formation of organizations fighting back against repressive anti-worker policies. In spite of continued repression, the Iranian labour movement opened a new chapter as of 2004.
For more background information, see IASWI’s statement below on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the killing Khatoon Abad workers and previous documents on our website.
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Slain workers of “Khatoon Abad” are never forgotten!
History of workers’ movement is saturated with great many sacrifices. Workers’ gains have always been accompanied by repression from capitalist system. In the struggle for a better life worthy of human beings, thousands of the most noble and valiant workers have sacrificed their lives. Throughout the world workers have been targets of capitalist violence, and have lost their lives in order to improve the conditions of their class.
This has also been the case in Iran. From the days of monarchy in early 20th century to this very day, workers have faced the armed forces of the state in an unequal confrontation. The Islamic regime from its inception in 1979, has demonstrated its vile nature. An early instance was shooting and killing of unemployed workers and a student in Isfahan. There is a list of 550 workers who were executed in the jails of Islamic Republic until 1988, and it’s been provided to international institutions; such repression has continued to this vary day.
In January of 2004, anti-riot and security forces of the Islamic Republic attacked a peaceful gathering of more than 200 copper workers and their families, from air and ground, resulting in the death of four workers and a student. This attack sparked a vast workers’ protest movement within Iran, and also brought worldwide condemnation from all labor activists and their respective organizations. An investigation into this killing and identification of its perpetrators has been a demand of all labor organizations. Islamic Republic has adamantly refused to take any responsibility in this case. The IASWI, which has organized several protest campaigns for “Khatoon Abad” workers, still demands an investigation and condemnation of the Islamic Republic. We ask all labor organizations to seriously pursue justice in this case and not forget what happened to “Khatoon Abad” workers five years ago. IASWI will be utilizing all its resources in defense of Iranian workers and their struggles.
Long live the memories of slain workers of “Khatoon Abad”
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran