Haft Tapeh Workers Gain Support, Respect of Many Communities

Workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar mill held a gathering on Thursday 10 Jan, 2019 at the factory. They said they will continue their strike until their detained colleagues are freed and their wages are paid.

Haft Tapeh sugar mill, located in Khuzestan province’s Shush City Haft Tapeh is Iran’s largest sugarcane factory and employs thousands of workers in Khuzestan.

Back in November, Haft Tapeh workers started a month-long strike, due to non-payment of salaries. In the strike, they demanded payment of their overdue salaries and the removal of the company’s private owners, whose mismanagement and corrupt policies caused the deterioration of work conditions for the factory workers.

Haft Tapeh Workers

haft tapeh sugar mill workers.
Haft Tapeh Sugar Mill workers

During their protests, Haft Tapeh workers earned the support and respect of many communities and segments of Iranian society. Since the strikes began, groups and representatives from different communities across Iran joined their voices, declaring support for the just demands of the underprivileged workers. Students from cities throughout Iran also held gatherings in support of the Haft Tapeh workers.

Truck drivers in Tehran, Zahedan, Bandar Abbas and Azerbaijan, and groups of people in Tehran also supported the sugar mill workers.

The people of Damavand show their support for the workers of Haft Tapeh
The people of Damavand show their support for the workers of Haft Tapeh.

A taxi driver, outraged by the way the government treated the Haft Tapeh workers declared he will give free rides to the workers and their families. In tears, the driver said, “How many times do these people have to go home and tell their wife and children, ‘I don’t have anything’?”

The Haft Tapeh strike also became strongly tied to protests by Ahvaz steel workers, who had been striking for similar reasons.

Fearing the strike may trigger protests in other parts of the country, the Iranian regime cracked down on the protesters. Several workers were arrested and imprisoned.

People Detained and Tortured By Iranian Regime

Esmail Bakhshi, one of the workers’ representatives, who was arrested and imprisoned by the Iranian regime’s security forces, recently published a detailed account of the tortures he was subjected to during his incarceration.

“After the torture was brought up, pressure against Esmail Bakhshi intensified and there is evidence that suggests that my client is under pressure and that there is a psychological environment against him to deny the torture,” his lawyer Farzaneh Zilani said, speaking to an Iranian website.

Iranian labor activist Ali Nejati was detained on November 29 while the sugarcane workers were still on strike in the southern town of Shush. Nejati was sentenced for “disrupting public order” and “spreading propaganda” against the Iranian government.

Ali Nejati’s family visited him yesterday in Shush Prison in the southern province of Khuzestan. The family said he was now thin and pale and that he was being kept in a crowded part of the Prison despite suffering from a serious heart condition.

Ali Nejati
Ali Nejati

“He has become extremely thin and pale. He was harassed and abused during interrogations without any considerations for his old age and health and was transferred to the hospital as a result,” the family said according to human rights sources.

“Mr. Nejati is suffering from a heart condition and the closed environment and crowded atmosphere including cigarette smoke is very dangerous for his health,” the family said. They reported that prison officials kept him in a closed environment despite the law requiring he be transferred to a less crowded prison.

The Iranian regime resorted to similar measures against the Ahvaz steel workers. On Dec 18 2018, at least 51 steel workers were arrested, mostly at their homes during raids after midnight. The workers were dragged out of their homes, but their colleagues have continued the strike.

All of these workers have played a major role in countering the regime. Their strikes serve to generate hope throughout Iranian society.

esmail bakhshi was tortured.
Esmail Bakhshi was tortured
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate and Social Media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.