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Iran Continues Confrontations With Labor Activists

Seven labor rights activists have been summoned to court in recent days in the capital, Tehran, and the predominantly Kurdish-populated cities of Sanandaj and Saqqez in western Iran.

The Defenders of Human Rights Center, an Iran-based group, reported via the Telegram messaging app that five members of the Coordinating Committee for the Establishment of Labor Organizations, which helps workers launch independent trade unions, were summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj. The five are required to appeared to court on March 5.

According to the Telegram report, Ghaleb Hosseini, Khaled Hosseini, Mozaffar Saleh Nia, Sharif Sa’id Panah, and Habibollah Karimi have been charged not with labor activities but for attending a Noruz celebration in March 2017 (Iranian New Year, March 20).

Last March, a website affiliated with Kurdish rights, Kordpa, reported that at least 20 activists in Kurdish regions across Iran had been detained on the last day of the Iranian calendar year (March 19). The arrests were reportedly concentrated in the cities of Sanandaj and Boukan.

On March 22, several people were detained at a huge public Noruz celebration in Sanandaj for unknown reasons. One possibility, which Radio Farda has not been able to verify so far, is that ethnic or anti-regime slogans were used by some of the participants.

Back in 2015, the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (UWTSBC) reported that one of its board members, Davoud Razavi, had been summoned to the Courts of Appeal.

Razavi and Deputy Chairman Ebrahim Madadi were detained at their houses two days before International Labor Day on May 1, 2015, and, after spending 22 days behind bars, were freed on bail of 1 billion rials (roughly $25,000).

UWTSBC said at the time that Madadi and Razavi had been detained to prevent them from organizing May 1 events.

After the recent uprising against the regime that broke out on December 28 and spread to more than 100 cities across the country, it appears the authorities have decided to intensify pressure on activists and tighten their grip to prevent the protests from flaring up again.