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Hundreds March In Ahvaz Demanding Release Of Arrested Workers

Ahvaz, center of the oil-producing province in Iran was a hotbed of protests earlier this year. The photo shows unrest on January 1, 2018

Marching through streets of Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, thousands of workers on Saturday, March 3, called for the immediate release of their fellow workers.

More than ten workers were reportedly detained at their homes by security agents overnight on Thursday and put in Ahvaz central prison.

The reason behind their detention has not yet been announced, while judiciary and police officials have kept their silence on the case.

The workers were detained after the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused “foreign enemies” of stoking discord among Iranian workers.

The “enemy”, as a rule, is a word used by the Islamic Republic’s authorities to describe the United States or Israel.

Furthermore, Khamenei in his speech made on February 5, but published three weeks later said, “One of the major activities of our enemies has been to create economic recession and obstacles in our factories and among our labor groups -- particularly the big ones -- so they can provoke the workers."

Meanwhile, Iran’s Free Trade Union has disclosed a directive issued by the factory’s managers accusing a “small number” of workers of the National Iranian Steel Industrial Group of "hampering the production and jihad work of their colleagues.”

Nevertheless, thousands of workers who have not been paid for months, marched through streets of Ahvaz, chanting slogans, including “The imprisoned workers must be released”, “Beware, police officers! We are workers not hooligans”, “We are workers, we need bread, medical treatment and medicine” and “We stand firm; we will die, but we will achieve our rights.”

Protesting their comrades’ detention, the workers also chanted, “Thieves are outside, laborers are behind bars.”

However, the private owner of the industrial complex, Iranian tycoon, Abdolreza Mousavi has regretted on his Instagram page that several of the workers were detained.

In the meantime, Mousavi has insisted, “several malicious individuals” are fomenting unrest among the Ahvaz workers.

The workers have not been paid for the past three months, and say they hold the former owner of the industrial complex, the National Bank of Iran, “responsible for the livelihood crisis imposed on laborers,” the Iran Free Trade Union reported.

The protesters had earlier called for the dismissal of the current owner of the complex, Mousavi, and the resignation of regional Governor-General Gholamreza Shariati.