To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
November 24, 2018
RE: Solidarity with striking Iranian workers!

New strikes and protests in Iran

by Frank Arango, Seattle Workers' Voice

This year started in the midst of a powerful upsurge of the Iranian working people against mass impoverishment, lack of rights, corruption and tyranny. (1) In the following months, faced by brutal repression, and lacking sufficient organization and vision to overcome it, the mass upsurge declined. from its peak. Additionally, during those months Trump ordered economic sanctions on Iran that the theocratic capitalist government began shifting onto the backs of the workers and poor. But this only fueled the mass anger against the regime, and as we approach year's end strikes and protests are again surging. They deserve support from working and oppressed people everywhere. In this country we can give support by stepping up the struggles against our common enemy, Trumpian reaction; by spreading news of the Iranian protests everywhere, something that can give our struggles more confidence; and by opposing Trump's sanctions.

Below are excerpts from an article by the Los Angeles based Iranian activist, Frieda Afary. Afary is associated with a different political trend than Communist Voice, but I think her piece gives a good overview of the present situation.

From "New Wave of Strikes/Protests in Iran Need Solidarity
from International Socialists and Progressives"

by Frieda Afary, Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists, Nov. 22, 2018

"During the past two weeks, the ongoing wave of protests and strikes in Iran have gained a new intensity.

"On the one hand, the impact of the second and more cruel wave of the U.S. Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran is truly breaking the backs of the masses. Although the sanctions which are aimed at stopping Iran’s oil exports, technically do not include food and medicine imports, the way in which they prevent banking transactions between Iran and the rest of the world, practically prevents payment for food and medicine. Thus the majority of Iran’s 82 million people are suffering from the shortage of food, medicine and basic services. In addition they face the sharp decline in the value of the currency, rial, astronomical inflation, more lay offs and non-payment of wages, which are also related to the problems of Iran’s economy prior to the re-imposition of the sanctions. Given the massive decline in the value of the rial, the minimum wage is now down to the equivalent of $ 100 per month for a family of four, which is lower than the World Bank’s definition of absolute poverty ($ 2 per day for each person).

"On the other hand, Iranian regime leaders, not only Ayatollah Khamenei, but also President Rouhani, the 'reformist', have been even more shameless in their public speeches about how 'well' the Iranian economy is still doing and how the masses of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen are supporting the Iranian masses in their 'valiant struggle' against U.S. imperialism. At the same time, the corruption of government authorities which is acknowledged by some government leaders is creating even more anger among the people.”

The strikes of steel and sugar cane complex workers:

“The oil-producing and industrial province of Khuzestan in southern Iran continues to be the most active site of labor, environmental and human rights struggles. Continuing strikes of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers (4500 employees) in Shush (2) and the National Steel of Ahvaz (4000 workers) (3) throughout this year have involved the participation of their family members (women and children) and have led to marches in the cities of Ahvaz and Shush and protests in front of provincial government buildings in both cities. On November 18, 18 Haft Tapeh workers as well as a woman reporter were arrested. Other workers, family members, concerned attorneys and residents of Shush have gathered in front of the Shush justice department to protest these arrests and demand to know where the arrested workers and reporter are being held. So far 12 have been released...”

Environmental struggles:

"Khuzestan is also the site of important human rights and environmental struggles. Environmental problems caused by the building of dams for electricity, the pollution generated by the petrochemical industry, the overuse of underground water reservoirs by rapacious capitalist development, and global climate change itself, have led to the destruction of marshes, massive water shortage and severe air pollution.

"Last Spring, large protests against water shortage, intense air pollution and lack of respect for the cultural and language rights of Iran’s ethnic Arab population took place in Khuzestan. Later, when the Iranian government stopped diverting water from the Karun river to the Iraqi city of Basra, in order to pacify the Khuzestan protests, its actions in turn created power outages in Iraq by disrupting hydroelectric power there. In late August and early September, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of Basra to call on the Iraqi government to deliver crucial services including power and clear water. Protesters also opposed Iran’s presence and influence in Iraq. Some stormed the Iranian consulate and set it on fire."

Struggles of the oppressed Arab and Kurdish peoples:

“After the September 22 attack on an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz [which killed at least 29], for which an Iranian Arab separatist group, Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), took responsibility, over 1000 Iranian Arab intellectuals, human rights, political, civic and media activists as well as some of their spouses and children were arrested by the regime. On November 10 , 22 of those arrested, none of whom had any connection to ASMLA were executed without any trial and buried in unmarked graves...

“The Iranian regime is also afraid of the struggles for self-determination in Iranian Kurdistan which has a strong labor dimension. On September 14, a mass strike in Iranian Kurdistan was declared against the executions of four Kurdish political prisoners, Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, Kamal Ahmadinejad, and against Iran’s missile attacks on Kurdish dissidents in Northern Iraq.”

Prisoners:

“...a group of political prisoners from the notorious Gohardasht prison near Tehran have just issued a statement to express their support for the striking workers at Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Factory and Ahvaz Steel. In this statement, they state: 'The resistance of the honorable and hardworking workers of Haft Tapeh and Ahvaz Steel is another angry scream of the oppressed and workers of a people who can no longer tolerate the plunder and repression of a corrupt government. A people who daily see the plunder of the results of their hard work, and who are subjected to poverty, hunger and catastrophic misery so that their wealth can be used to stoke the fire of terrorism and war or repress their protests, have finally correctly identified their enemy. We the political prisoners of Gohardasht...believe that the only legitimate and just solution to oppression and plunder can be reached through an uprising and an insurrection. Such a pathway, based on the nationwide unity of all unions and oppressed sectors of society, will uproot the plunderers and oppressors.'”

Frieda Afary concludes:

“Socialists around the world who want to express their solidarity with the Iranian struggles cannot simply limit themselves to opposing the brutal and cruel sanctions of the U.S. government. They need to also express their opposition to the Iranian regime, publicize the plight of the striking Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers and other labor activists, including teachers, defend the imprisoned feminists and the imprisoned Arab and Kurdish activists. Most importantly, we need a dialogue on how socialism can truly mean human emancipation and not another form of capitalist oppression/exploitation.”

The full article can be read at
https://www.allianceofmesocialists.org/new-wave-of-strikes-protests-in-iran-need-solidarity-from-international-socialists-and-progressives/

Notes by Frank Arango

1. See http://www.communistvoice.org/DSWV-180102.html

2. Striking Haft Tappeh sugar cane complex workers marching in solidarity with the striking steel workers, Nov. 15:
https://www.facebook.com/iranianprotestslive/videos/vb.313329889171778/287201761789427/

3. Striking steel workers marching, Nov. 20:
  https://www.facebook.com/wpiinternational/videos/vb.141717156539747/377163099690084/


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Posted on January 15, 2018
Some typos have been corrected.
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