Workers arrested in Iran


An eyewitness account of labor activists’ arrests and incarceration in Karaj.
 
A few are on the list of speakers, and one is talking. The talk is about meager wages, poverty level of life of workers, temporarily work contracts, mass expulsion of workers and…
About 60 members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations and other labor activists and guests have gathered in a house on the outskirts of the industrial city of Karaj. This is the annual gathering of this Coordinating Committee, and also an occasion to discuss workers’ issues and problems, and how to approach and confront their problems. Majority of the participants have come here directly after work and the fatigue of work is still evident on their bodies. It’s close to lunch time; all tired, hungry, and waiting for food which they’re about to have soon. Since the house is rather small, all have to sit very close to each other and speak in a hushed voice so as not to disturb the neighbors.
Suddenly there are sounds of commotion and shooting. Neighbors are screaming. All conversations stops; they decide to step outside to see what’s going-on. The door is swiftly broken, and a swarm of armed men rush the gathering, screaming:” All you scum on the floor, or we’ll start shooting.” A few protest and ask the invaders for their credentials and search warrants. Their simple queries are answered with kicks, batons, fists and insults. They force everyone to lay on the floor, and hand cuff everyone from behind. What a scene! 
The floor is packed with arrested workers and activists, agents are walking on their backs, one could hear the sound of their bones cracking. Security agents are screaming and cussing, they're beating up a few severely. I raise my head to see what's going on, I see an old man named Rahman Ebrahim'zadeh (father of the incarcerated labor activists Behnam Ebrahim'zadeh) getting hit by a young man. On the other side I see Mahmud Salehi getting beaten up. Besides him Mohamad Abdi'pour is protesting our treatment, and although he keeps getting hit, he continues his protestation. Alireza Asgari as well is getting beaten up but cursed but keeps on his protestation. Mazyar Mehr'pour is bravely standing up, getting hit and yet objecting to security agents’ conduct. Although Vafa Ghadery's body is not that big, he's standing up still like a mountain, one glance at him and it makes one feel very assured. Agents hit a young girl’s head against the wall. Suddenly a baton hits me in the head, and a voice: “You stupid animal, didn’t I tell you to keep your head down.” This is followed by kicks to my head and back.
After 15 minutes everyone is forced to stand up, without shoes. One by one we’re paraded in front of a camera held up by an agent. Two steps below him another agent, tasked with giving everyone that passes him a kick. A water pipe has been broken and all arrestees are forced to pass under the flowing water, as if someone is tossing water after them, wishing them to come back soon!*
The neighbors are very frightened with all the shooting and commotion, and keep asking what’s going on? The agents tell them that we’re a bunch of terrorists and criminals! There are so many cars parked outside, with heavily armed men inside, as if they’re about to confront a platoon, or a big group of armed robbers! Everyone is pushed from their heads into the cars, a few fall on the ground. An old man is pushed and his head hits the car’s door; blood flows everywhere. Everyone nearby screams in protest, and though they’re threatened they step forward, pick up the old man and carry him gently inside the car. They pack so many people in each car, we could hardly breath. Inside the car is very hot and packed. Plastic handcuffs are very tight and they start to damage our wrists. In about half an hour we arrive in Rajaei Shahr prison. Everyone is evacuated from the cars and forced to stand up in prison yard without shoes, our bare feet start burning up. Some are cuffed in their hands and feet. Everyone is lined up, and a bag of shoes in emptied in front of us. After everyone put on their shoes, we’re directed towards prison’s entrance. As we’re passing through, the big sign above the entrance reads:
 
The year of supporting national production, supporting Iranian Labor and Capital
 
We all have a smile on our faces; we keep looking at each other and laugh. Plastic cuffs keep getting tighter and we keep moving in the labyrinth of Capital. They stop everyone at one point at put blinders on our eyes. An agent screams:” Everyone faces the wall, empty everything in your pockets, heads down,” anyone raising her head gets a very hard hit on back of the neck. Everyone is divided into different cells. Inside cells there are heated discussions. Everyone is in high spirits:” We’ll defend the Committee and the movement to the end. We haven’t done anything wrong. We’ve only defended our rights. We’ll continue these struggles to the last drop.” And indeed the movement is defended.
 
Long interrogations begin that same night. Interrogators try to connect us to political groups, but they’re faced with stern rebukes in defense of workers’ movement and nature and the mission of Coordinating Committee. Most interrogations are accompanied by beatings and nasty and ugly insults. This goes on till next evening. Saturday evening the cells are opened up, a few names are calls and let go. There are still 9 incarcerated. One of prisoners, Faramrz Fetrat’nejad is severely ill, and in need of special medication and care. Another prisoner, Rayhaneh Ansary, is custodian of a young girl, whose father ahs passed away, and has no one but her mother to take care of her. Jalil Mohamadi is the sole caretaker of his elderly mother and in his absence who knows what will happen to his old mother. Everyone is concerned about the condition of Alireza Asgari: his interrogation was the harshest, his interrogators trying to charge him up on false accusations and him responding with a vigorous defense. There’s also no information regarding Ms. Mitra Homayoni, and   Messer, Mazyar Mehrvar, Saied Marzban, Siros Fatehi, and Masoud Salim’pour.
 
A few days back during the annual gathering of International Labor Organization, Iranian government was given new positions, despite widely circulated reports of suppression and repression of workers in Iran. This international organization due to its class nature took the side of Capitalists, thus implicitly giving a seal of approval to Iranian state for further repression of workers, labor activists and their organizations.
 
Account of a witness
Sunday 17 June, 2012    

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