More international bodies have lent their voices in defense ofIranian truckers who are on strike, demanding that their hardship be addressed.
In a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the International Confederation of Trade Unions -- along with four other labor unions with more than 200 million total members -- expressed its "deep shock" over recent comments by an official from the city of Qazvin threatening truckers with the death penalty.
Acting Chief Prosecutor Mohsen Karami cautioned the truckers on strike that if they were found guilty of "fighting against God," capital punishment would await them.
This is blatantly against international law and unacceptable in any society, the letter said, adding that it is deeply shocking to see a labor force being threatened with the death penalty for demanding their due rights.
The letter calls upon Khamenei to dismiss the threats without preconditions, guarantee the truckers’ safety, and hold talks with them.
The other signatories are the International Federation of Trade Unions, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF);Education International; and the International Industries Union;the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations.
The ITF had previously expressed concern over the Iranian government’s reaction to the latest industrial action by truck drivers, which is in its second week. “The ITF is extremely concerned that news emerging from Iran has detailed a large number of driver arrests,” it said in a statement. "Most seriously, the ITF understands that Iran’s attorney general, Mohammad Jaafar Montazeri, has suggested that those who initiated the protest actions will be subject to the death penalty, citing a threat to national security. His comments have been echoed by other clerics.”
Furthermore, ITF head of inland transport Noel Coard said, “We are very concerned about the situation. Let it be clear that ITF unions globally voice their solidarity and stand alongside the truckers of Iran in their fight to defend workers’ rights.”
The ITF is a global federation of transport workers' trade unions, founded in 1896. In 2017, the ITF had 677 memberorganizations in 149 countries.
In an ITF statement signed by General Secretary Stephen Cotton, Iran’s authorities have been urged to listen to the truckers’ demands.
“The death penalty for striking is the most serious of violations of workers’ rights; it’s inhumane and unthinkable,” he said.“From what we understand, Iran’s truckers took action as a last resort in the struggle to feed their families. The threat of the death penalty is utterly disproportionate."
During the two weeks of the strike, more than 200 truckers have been detained across the country. The Iranian judiciary and police have charged detainees with blocking roads and attacking truckers who refused to join the strike.
In recent days, several judiciary officials, including the head of the judicial department of Qazvin, have threatened to sentence truckers to death after the most recent strike.
Announcing that 17 truckers were arrested in the province, Karami said on October 10, "We will demand the death sentence for the detainees, and if they are proven guilty of 'fighting against God,’ heavy sentences such as execution would be waiting for them."
“Fighting against God” is considered a serious crime in Iran.
Other judicial authorities have also accused strikers of "aggression" and threatened them with the punishment set for brigands, i.e. death.
To back up their claims, judicial authorities published footage trying to prove truckers attacked and damaged public and private property.
Nevertheless, the strikers have dismissed the clips as stagedevidence to pave the way for suppressing truck drivers who are merely demanding their rights.