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Current events :: Strikes
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A brief attempt to intimidate the thousands of Haft Tappeh sugar cane workers who have been on strike since 14 June (see 'Haft Tappeh sugar cane factory workers return to strike action' on socialistworld.net) was pushed back when four strikers who had been arrested after attending a protest in the city of Shush on 14 July were released the following day.
The local governor had hoped to use these arrests as a way to force the Haft Tappeh workers to negotiate, but this did not work. The strikers continued with their regular protests and threatened to intensify them.
This struggle is particularly significant because of the wide range of the Haft Tappeh workers' demands, including payment of back wages, reinstatement of sacked workers, and renationalisation of the privatised company.
In a previous strike at the end of 2018, there were calls by Haft Tappeh workers that a renationalised company should be "managed by a workers' council and based on collective decision-making".
The struggles of these workers, and others, are a key to building a genuine independent workers' movement that can both overthrow the dictatorial regime and also fight for a socialist alternative to capitalism.
The release of these four strikers shows both the divisions and weaknesses in the regime. Facing an economic crisis, a renewed upsurge in Covid-19 infections, and a new wave of protests, the regime is both weak and divided.
The combination of the fall in oil prices, the world economic crisis, and the Trump regime's economic sanctions, is hitting Iran hard. Last month, the Iranian rial was trading at 130,000 to one US dollar; at the beginning of July the figure was 230,000!
Amidst the deepening economic and social crisis, a renewed wave of protests and strikes has begun in many areas. Recently, there have been protests in Tehran, Behbahan, Esfahan, Shiraz and other cities.
The regime is reacting with both repression and concessions. Some sections of the state believe that the protests can be simply crushed. While the arrested Haft Tappeh workers were quickly released, another Haft Tappeh striker was sentenced on 16 July to 222 lashes for "insulting officials" and "publishing lies and slander". The day after the Behbahan demonstration, the regime said it would deal "decisively" with further protests.
This zigzagging was also seen when, on 15 July, the regime suggested that it might allow an appeal against the previous day's Supreme Court decision to uphold the executions of three young men - Amirhossein Moradi, 25, Saeed Tamjidi, 27, and Mohammad Rajabi, 27 - who had participated in the nationwide uprising last November against an increase in fuel prices. On 19 July the Iranian judiciary ordered a retrial for the three.
The threat of their execution produced a wave of opposition in Iran, supported internationally. Protests on the streets were seen in different places. On the morning of 15 July, the hashtag #DontExecute (in Farsi) was the most tweeted in Iran, with maybe fivemillion posts, despite government attempts to disrupt the internet.
Seeing an opportunity to attack the Iran regime, US president Donald Trump tweeted on 15 July: "Executing these three people sends a terrible signal to the world and should not be done! #StopExecutionsInIran".
Trump, of course, ignored the executions of oppositionists already carried out, or threatened, by his friends running the dictatorial Saudi and Bahraini regimes. This shows why no trust at all can be put in capitalist leaders like Trump. They have no principles apart from defending the profits, interests and power of their own ruling classes.
But the Iranian regime will not simply give up. As part of its repression it executed, on 14 July, two Kurdish men who had been convicted in 2015 of planting a bomb at a military parade in Mahabad in 2010, something they denied, saying that their 'confessions' had been forced under torture.
The labour movement internationally must defend democratic rights and support working people in struggle.
Trade unionists and others worldwide must demand the release of political prisoners in Iran, an end to repression and the organise activities in solidarity with the protests of the Haft Tappeh and other strikers.
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Article dated 22 July 2020
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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