The unseen revolution in Iran

Behind the war of words over Iran's Islamist regime – repressing democracy, developing nuclear weapons capability, interfering in local countries from the Lebanon to Iraq and the Gulf – there is a secret revolution going on. Independent trade unionists are fighting for the things most people in the world take for granted: the right to organise and bargain collectively, the right to get paid a decent wage, equality and jobs. And they are facing harsh treatment from a regime which claims to speak for the people but doesn't appreciate it when people speak for themselves, and claims to speak for the poor but unceasingly backs the corrupt managers of rich factory owners agsinst their own workers. Workers are organising silently throughout Iran – sometimes for fear of reprisals if they become too visible, sometimes to avoid being tarred as revolutionaries or foreign agents.

May Day often sees protests and brutal crackdowns, and this year is no exception: sugar workers leader Mahmoud Salehi was arrested in Sagaz City but released the next day and five other people were arrested in Sanandaj City: Khaled Hossieni; Sedigh Karimi; Ghaleb Hossieni; Yadollah Ghotbi and Vafa Ghaderi, believed to be members of Free Workers Union or Coordinating Committee for Establishment of Workers Unions. Meanwhile Tehran bus workers' leader Mansour Osanloo, jailed for five years since his visit to the west to talk to global trade union leaders and an Amnesty prisoner of conscience, was taken to a hospital on 28 April for a medical check-up – he has a serious heart problem as well as other ailments, all resulting from his imprisonment - but was sent back to the prison immediately after.

You can show solidarity by signing up to the Justice for Iranian Workers website run by global unions, and taking part in actions whenever they are called.

Owen Tudor

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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