Union told to Disband and Cease Activity
Free Assembly of Iranian Workers is one of the indepent labor organizations in Iran organizing workers and wage earners from different trades as well as the unemployed and laid off workers. The assembly along with Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate in Tehran and Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate has been one of the few independent labor organizations active in recent years. These independent workers organizations have issued several joint communiques including one along with seven other independent workers organizations on the occasion of the May Day. As reported by The Assembly, the labor organization has come under extreme pressure in the recent days.
Iran Labor Report earlier reported that Jafar Azim Zadeh, the head of the Assembly, has been called in to appear in court by the branch 26 of the revolutionary court. Furthermore, five leaders of the Assembly in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, Sharif Saedpanah, Shith Amani, Sadigh Karimi, Ismael Kazemi, and Khaled Savari were called in by the intelligence Ministry on April 30. They were asked to not participate in any May Day activities and attempts were made to get pledges from these leaders on this issue. They were released after the interrogations. Later on the eve of the May Day, Foad Keikhosravi, a member of the Assembly in Sanandaj was arrested and remains in custody.
On May 1, Sadigh Karimi and Khaled Savari of the board of directors were arrested in Sanadaj. Khaled Savari was later released. The arrests occurred before the May Day events had started in the city. Several other members had received threats on the phone.
The workers subsequently held the May Day rallies in the city of Sanandaj where 200 participated in Ferdowsi square marches. The march was confronted by the security forces and the crowd was dispersed. The workers had planned to read the joint declaration of the workers organizations but were not successful. One of the participants, Foad Shabake Fard, was arrested before the start of the rally carrying signs.
On May 2, the families of the incarcerated, Sadigh Karimi, Foad Keikosravi, and Foad Shabake Fard along with several other families of the Free Assembly members gathered by the Intelligence Ministry information office in the city of Sanandaj. Heidar Keikhosravi, Foad’s brother, was allowed to enter the compound and returned with bruise marks on his face This resulted in protests by the families led by Keikosravi sisters. The crowd was subsequently confronted with security forces and the families were told that the arrested will be transferred to the municipality courts for formal charges. Of the three, only Foad Shabake Fard was transferred and taken back to the intelligence ministry offices subsequently.
At the same time, Saeed Karami, another member of the Assembly and the expelled worker of Gharb Baft Carpets in Sanadaj was also called in by the Intelligence Ministry and interrogated.
The Free Assembly of Iranian Workers members in different locations in Iran have received calls from the Intelligence Ministry operatives, which along with threats, telling the Assembly to cease its activites and disband itself.
The Free Assembly of Iranian Workers, condemning the threats, has declared that celebration of the International Workers Day, assembly, and protests are workers and all people’s inalienable rights and disbanding or continuation of activities are only subject to the will of its members in their general assembly and nothing else. The Assembly has also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sadigh Karimi, Foad Keikhosravi, Foad Shabake Fard, and other incarcerated labor leaders and said that it holds the intelligence ministry and high officials of the judiciary responsible for their safety and all the subsequent events resulting in protest to their arrests. The Assembly also has called for larger protests by the families and the workers of Sanandaj to the arrests.