Thursday , 27 January 2022

Iran’s riot police attack, arrest protesting AzarAb workers

Iran-HRM – Iranian security forces attacked and arrested dozens of peaceful protesting workers of Azarab factory in the city of Arak, on October 20 and 21.


The workers were from AzarAb Industries, a large manufacturing and construction company located in the city of Arak, in the western province of Markazi, 281 kilometers west of the capital city, Tehran.

The workers have continued the new round of their protests since October 9, demanding measures against regime-linked groups that are taking control over their factory under the pretext of “privatization,” leaving many of these workers unemployed and others going on for months without being paid.

Anti-riot units attacking Azarab factory workers in Arak, western Iran – October 20, 2019.
Anti-riot units attacking Azarab factory workers in Arak, western Iran – October 20, 2019.

After Sunday’s protest gathering and the arrest of peaceful protesters, workers once again gathered Monday in the factory grounds demanding the release of detained workers.

“Detained workers must be released!” they chanted in videos published on social media platforms.

Security forces attacked the factory, where the workers had taken refuge, at 3 pm in the afternoon, using batons and firing tear gas. They also shot and took down the factory security cameras.

Anti-riot units attacking Azarab factory workers in Arak, western Iran – October 20, 2019.

Many workers were injured.  The state security forces even resorted to break windows of the factory and vehicles parked in the area.

Security forces then went to the hospital and detained injured AzarAb workers.

Numerous images of injured workers were published on social media platforms.

The state-run ILNA news agency on October 21, confirmed the arrest of a “number” of workers though unofficial reports indicate that around 40 workers were detained.

The prosecutor of Arak confirmed that 21 AzarAb workers were detained.

Abbas Qasemi told Fars state-run News Agency that they were detained for “disrupting public order”.

ILNA reported yesterday that workers were “physically dealt with” by the police.

AzarAb workers protests started last month. Workers are demanding an end to the privatization of the company which they say has nearly destroyed the company.

AzarAb Industries constructs power plants, petrochemical plants and sugar, oil and gas refineries.

The Iranian regime has stepped up its crackdown against peaceful protesters.

Before this in September, in a severe attack on a labor protest gathering, special security units injured nearly twenty workers and detained forty more at Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO) in the city of Arak.

Iran’s Labor Code does not grant citizens the right to form independent unions, despite Iran’s ratification of the UN’s International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and membership in the International Labor Organization.

According to Amnesty International, “independent unions in Iran are banned, workers have few legal rights or protections, and union activists are regularly beaten, arrested, jailed and tortured.”

According to Article 27 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided weapons are not carried and a gathering is not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”

Nonetheless, peaceful labor activism in Iran is treated as a national security offense and retaliated with an iron fist.