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Police Arrest At Least 35 Workers, 2 Reporters In May Day Protest In Tehran

Workers in Tehran gather to start their protest at the Iranian parliament before security forces attacked the protesters. May 1, 2019
Workers in Tehran gather to start their protest at the Iranian parliament before security forces attacked the protesters. May 1, 2019

Reports from Tehran say police have violently dispersed a Labor Day demonstration in front of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) in Tehran on Wednesday May 1, arresting tens of workers.

Eyewitnesses on the ground told Radio Farda that over 35 May Day demonstrators, mainly members of Tehran Bus Drivers' Union, have been arrested. The demonstrators have been beaten and wounded and at times dragged on the ground before being taken into custody, eyewitnesses said.

They told Radio Farda that all the male demonstrators arrested have been transferred to the security police headquarters in Gisha, in the western part of Tehran.

The demonstrators, who appear in videos to number a few thousand, chanted slogans against high prices and rising inflation while also voicing the unions' usual concerns.

Eyewitnesses on social media say demonstrators carried banners and posters that showed their affiliation with labor unions.

According to human rights activist Mohammad Mozaffari, labor union activists Reza Shahabi, Hassan Saeedi, Vahid Fereidouni, Asadollah Soleimani and Nasser Moharramzadeh are among those who have been arrested in the May Day demonstrations in front of the Majles on Wednesday.

Another activist, Mohammad Javad Akbarein observed in a tweet that, "Yesterday President Hassan Rouhani said workers were in the frontline of struggle against the United States, but today his administration's representative called for arresting the same workers."

Amir Yaghoubali wrote that security forces confronted the workers "violently."

Meanwhile, Tehran bus divers' union announced on its Telegram social media channel that several workers including some of the union's members have been arrested in front of the Majles.

Other reports say at least two reporters, Kayvan Samimi and Marzieh Amiri have also been arrested.

The Iranian Human Rights News Agency also published a video of demonstrations near the state-run Workers' House.

The Iranian government does not recognize labor unions established by workers and has been regularly cracking down of protest gatherings arranged by "illegal" unions. Instead, the government has set up a " Workers' House" that supports the government's positions against workers and has not been observed defending workers' right although it has always been represented at the Parliament during the past decades.

An official at the local governor's office in Tehran told semi-official news agency ISNA that the demonstration was "illegal" as he had not received any request for a gathering in front of the Majles. This comes while hundreds of pro-regime, hardline demonstrators gathered in front of the Majles in February in protest to bills the Majles had ratified to meet conditions set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in order to facilitate Tehran's international trade and banking operations. No one attacked those demonstrations or called them illegal although they had not sought a permit from the local governor's office.

The Iranian Constitution stipulates that "people may take art in gatherings and rallies on the condition that they are not armed and that their demonstration is not against the fundamentals of Islam."

The May Day demonstration in Tehran was called for by independent labor unions.