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Workers and Youth Beaten and Flogged, while ‘Fat Cats’ Are Left Free to Do as They Please

The Public Prosecutor of the city of Qazvin in Iran announced that 35 students who were celebrating their graduation were flogged 90 lashes, in order to deter others from mixed shalagh-495x335parties and drinking alcohol.
This flogging was not the only one in that week. In another incident the workers of the Mine of Agh Darreh, who had been laid off were flogged and fined. Their solicitor told ILNA that each worker was given between 30 to 100 lashes.
Around eight o’clock in the evening of 27th December 2015 three workers who had been sacked from the Gold Mine of Agh Darreh attempted suicide in protest at losing their jobs. One of the three lost his life. The main contractor, Puya Zarkan which had sacked 350 workers at the mine, was already in the public eye and this event created much adverse publicity for it. It complained to the courts against the protesting workers. The public prosecutor brought a case against 17 workers, as a result. The first charge against the workers was rioting. In late May, after months of delay, the judiciary announced a verdict of a fine and 30-100 lashes punishment for the workers. ILNA reported Vahid Yari, the workers’ lawyer listing the charges: ‘obstructing and preventing people from working and earning a living, by creating disturbance’, ‘insulting the company’s security guard’, ‘detaining the guard and damaging his uniform’, ‘deliberate damage to the company’s billboard’.
This is not the first time that workers’ protests are met with suppression by security forces and the judiciary who always refer to any assembly as a security threat and hasten to hand out sentences of flogging for them. In March five workers of Chadormalu iron ore mine (in the Yazd Province in Central Iran) were sentenced to one year imprisonment and flogging. According to ILNA these workers along with another 25 workers were put on trial following workers protests and complaint made by their employer. The charge was ‘disruption of order and obstruction of others’ rights’. The five workers were known to the employers as the leaders of last year’s strike in the Chadormalu mine and they had demanded that the workers should be punished in such a way that it would deter other workers.
This is a continuation of the treatment of two of the leaders of workers of bakeries in the city of Sanandaj (in Iran’s Kurdestan) who were sentenced to imprisonment and 30 lashes last March. Their sentence was suspended later.
In August 2014, four workers of the Razi Petrochemical firm were given 6 month prison sentences and 50 lashes. They were accused of disruption and were charged following the complaint made by the director of the firm.
Susan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, two women worker activists who were arrested in Sanandaj in 2007 for celebrating May Day, were also flogged in the central prison of the city. Ms Razani was given 70 lashes and Ms Kheirabadi was given 15 lashes. The year before that 13 workers and activists were arrested during May Day celebrations, imprisoned for 50 days and flogged.
In addition to these workers and their trade union representatives have been facing the prospect of arrest, imprisonment and flogging under the charge of security threat. Iran’s Islamic penal law has no article to prevent trade union activity, but workers are punished according to Book Five of the Penal Code and on the basis of threat to the country’s security. The question is why would workers’ protests about their wages, unemployment, or dismissals be considered as a threat to national security.
Celebrations in Qazvin
Thirty-five young women and men were arrested and summarily given 99 lashes for the crime of having attended an end of term party. On Thursday 27th May 2016, Mizan news, associated with the Legislative branch, reported Ismail Sadeghi Niaraki, the director of public prosecution in the city of Qazvin, as saying that those arrested had gathered in one of the villas in the suburbs of Qazvin and were engaged in dancing, men and women together. He accused those arrested of being ‘taboo breakers’ and said that the court dealt with their case in an extraordinary session and sentenced each to 99 lashes. The sentence was carried out on the same day.
Two days previously, 1,130 kilometers south of Qazvin, in the city of Kerman, 23 people were arrested for consuming alcohol, and dancing with inappropriate attire. In April this year, ‘seven famous actors of cinema’ were arrested at a ‘night party’ in north Tehran. Although many of these reports avoid stating the sentences passed, flogging is not unusual for these.
Hojatoleslam Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, the prosecutor of Qazvin defended handing down verdict of 99 lashes for the young people arrested saying: ‘This should be a lesson for anyone who attempts to break taboos’.
The prosecutors of the Islamic Republic cite the Islamic Constitutional Law in support of the verdicts that they are handing down. Workers’ activists believe that at least two articles of the Constitution are being neglected:
Article 22: job security for workers,
Article 26: right to organize in trade unions.
The regime chooses to ignore these articles and this is how the unlawful treatment of workers is being justified by linking workers’ activism to a threat to national security. As the experience of similar regimes shows the state suppresses any organized action whether by workers or others. There is disagreement between the supporters and opponents of the government. Some believe that the incidents of the recent times are a sign of certain bodies that act outside of the law and hold extremists responsible for summary verdicts and punishments. On another hand the silence of the government in the face of the brutal treatment meted out to the workers of the gold mine is not explained by these commentators. How can it be enough for an employer to complain against striking workers for the latter to be flogged? This happens while we witness the ‘big cats’ – the regime’s associates – plunder undisturbed.
Partly cited from Melimazhabi site 30.05.2016
MaZanan 04.06.2016

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