In Iran, members of independent trade unions were routinely subject to state surveillance and harassment, including Parvin Mohammadi, vice president of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, who had just been released conditionally from prison in April 2020, having served one year in Kachouii prison in Karaj for “propaganda against the state”.
Right to free speech and assembly
Prior to May Day 2020, the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran harassed and made phone calls to labour activists to threaten them with arrest if they planned or attended May Day events. The government also preventively arrested several trade unionists and sent them to prison, including teacher and union leader Esmail Abdi.
Violent attacks on workers
In May 2020, the Arak criminal court in Iran sentenced forty-two workers from Azarab Industries, a manufacturing company that constructs components for power plants and refineries, to one year in prison, seventy-four lashes, and one month of forced labour for their participation in a protest to demand the payment of outstanding wages. The court ruled that the workers who took part in the demonstration were guilty of disrupting public order and insulting public officials.
Right to civil liberties
In Iran, Tehran teacher and union leader Esmail Abdi was released from Evin prison on 17 March 2020. In prison since 20 January 2018, Abdi was initially arrested in connection with his union activities for teachers’ rights.
Despite his release in March, Abdi was again required to report to prison on 21 April and was kept in detention. This new arrest of Abdi came amid a new wave of state repression and arbitrary arrests of labour activists ahead of May Day.
Right to justice
In Iran, Tehran teacher union leader Esmail Abdi was released from Evin prison in Tehran on 17 March 2020. Imprisoned since 20 January 2018, Abdi was initially arrested in connection with his union activities for teachers’ rights. Despite his release in March, Abdi was again required to report to prison on 21 April and was kept in detention with no official indictment and no access to his lawyer. This new arrest came upon a new wave of state repression against prominent labour activists in Iran, just before May Day.
Prosecution of union leaders for participating in strikes
In Iran, seven workers were prosecuted and condemned for their participation in a peaceful protest to demand jobs and better living conditions at the Agh-Darreh gold mine in Takab, north-west of the country. In Iran, strikes are often brutally repressed and lead to the prosecution of workers. In Takab, the court ordered the payment of a five million toman fine (around US$270) or serving a 21-month prison term. Unable to pay such a high fine, Daryoush Nikzad, one of the workers, was arrested on 10 June 2020 to serve the sentence. All the convicted men suffered from financial difficulties in the impoverished region of Takab. Locals tried to raise money to pay the fines and prevent the other prosecuted workers from going to prison.