Anger in Iran after police arrest striking workers in overnight raids

Iran has been hit by strikes over working conditions in several key sectors. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Anger in Iran after police arrest striking workers in overnight raids

  • After a series of rallies and protest meetings by the strikers, police raided workers’ homes overnight on Sunday and detained at least 30 men

JEDDAH: Anger has erupted in Iran’s restive Khuzestan province after security forces arrested dozens of striking steel workers.

More than 4,000 employees at the National Steel Industrial Group in Ahvaz stopped work on Nov. 9 in a dispute over unpaid wages and benefits.

After a series of rallies and protest meetings by the strikers, police raided workers’ homes overnight on Sunday and detained at least 30 men.

The arrests were described as a “mark of infamy” by Iran’s Free Labor Union, a banned workers’ rights group.

“Instead of considering the demands of the oppressed and desperate workers, the entire government apparatus raided their homes in the middle of the night, terrorized their wives and children, and arrested the breadwinners,” the group said on social media.

“All those who 40 years ago took the destiny of our people in their own hands by claiming to be on the side of the downtrodden now shamelessly raid the homes of workers and put them in chains.”

The arrests were also raised in the Iranian Parliament. “This is a violation of the constitution,” said Alireza Mahjoub, head of Parliament’s labor faction. He called on Parliament to intervene to free the arrested workers.

The Ahvaz protests started shortly after a strike by workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar factory in nearby Shush over wage arrears and alleged criminal activity by new private owners.

Iran has been hit by strikes over working conditions in several key sectors this year, including education, mines, transport and the steel industry, mainly outside Tehran.

Last month judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani warned workers against creating “disorder.” They “should not allow their demands to become an excuse and an instrument for the enemy,” he said.


Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

Updated 20 September 2019

Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

  • Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies
  • Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies

ALGIERS: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country's army chief.
Demonstrators gathered near the capital's main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria's protest movement that forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
"The people want the fall of Gaid Salah," the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. "Take us all to prison, the people will not stop."
Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.
Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.
The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika's departure.
The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president's loyalists -- including Gaid Salah himself -- before any vote.
In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.
Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.
As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.
Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as "illegal".
Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika's bid for a fifth presidential term.