Revolution#127, April 20, 2008
From A World to Win News Service
Iran: “Fight to save the life of workers’ leader Mahmood Salehi”
April 7, 2008. A World to Win News Service. The people of Iran are going through very hard times right now, perhaps the most difficult situation in decades on several fronts. The Islamic regime has moved to fiercely repress protests and demands for change. Two dozen university students have remained in prison in the wake of the Student Day demonstrations last December. According to their families and other sources, they have been undergoing torture to force them to express a more “Islamic” attitude. Several young women are said to have been raped and killed or driven to suicide. After a young Kurdish nationalist activist was arrested, the regime rounded up a number of his family members and executed him in front of his sister. International Women’s Day activities could not be held even semi-publicly in Iran this year due to a round of pre-March 8 arrests and the threat of more. At the same time, most of the population is also suffering from economic hardship on a scale not seen in many years. Official inflation is 19 percent, but the price of rice, chicken, fruit and other basic foodstuffs is rising so fast shopkeepers complain that they sometimes have to change the stickers three times a day. Rents have doubled over the last year. So many women have been forced into prostitution to support their families that the phenomenon has become a national scandal.
Iran today, while groaning under brutal rule of a theocratic regime, is also the site of intense super-exploitation mixed with Islamic fundamentalist “legitimization” that has created horrendous conditions for the working people in Iran. This gives rise to uninterrupted workers’ protests. As the bureaucrat-capitalist regime of Iran carries out ever deeper and wider destructive, globalization-driven neo-liberal policies, mills, factories and agricultural enterprises are shut down one after another. Each passing month thousands more find themselves laid off and with no income to survive on. Unemployed workers join the ranks of millions of unemployed youth who will never get a chance to work in a meaningful job.
The Islamic Republic receives backing and support not only from international centers of capitalism, but also the so-called International Labor Organization (which would be more truthfully called the International Anti-Labor Organization). Every year this UN body reconfirms the representatives of the Islamic Republic as the “legitimate” representatives of the workers’ interests!
In its mad drive to make Iran super-profitable for the world capitalist/imperialist system, the Islamic Republic of Iran does anything to force the workers to accept inhuman levels of exploitation and a humiliating life. The number of workers who commit suicide is increasing rapidly. When workers and the hungry in working class townships protest, they face military repression, on the ground and from the air. The regime’s Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) are there to guard the super-exploitation and super-humiliation of the workers. For many years the IRI divided the workers along Islamic fundamentalist lines. Today the regime itself is hated and isolated. The workers have increasingly seen how religion has been used to legitimize brutal exploitation and humiliation on earth while offering rewards in the “next” world. The Islamic Workers’ Councils or Houses of the Workers have been discredited and left to operate on the basis of certain criminal Islamic gangs who are paid by their bosses in high office to feast on the workers’ flesh. It is these gangs who are recognized as “representatives of the Iranian workers” in the ILO!
As a warning of how it will deal with resistance, the Islamic regime has kept a popularly loved workers’ leader, Mahmood Salehi, in jail to rot and die. Mahmood, who has been in and out of prison, is now in danger of losing his life in prison because his kidneys are failing and the IRI regime is refusing to give him medical treatment. Mahmood had served his “legal” prison term and “legally” was due to be released on March 25, but he was not released. The authorities say this is because he sent solidarity messages for the students on Student Day and for March 8, International Women’s Day.
Mahmood Salehi became well known in 2004 when he and other workers dared to openly celebrate May First, International Workers’ Day, in the city of Saghez in Iranian Kurdistan. According to the IRI, this is a crime to be punished by imprisonment and torture. These workers were attacked by the police and arrested. When their case became internationally known and the ILO was exposed as having cooperated with the IRI to pass off criminal gangs as “legitimate representatives of the Iranian workers,” the regime had to back off and release them.
At a time when the U.S. is threatening to attack Iran and is posing as the “liberator” of the Iranian people, Mahmood took a clear position against both U.S. imperialist war and the IRI and has refused to call for “national reconciliation” with the Islamic regime.
Mahmood has also rejected the ILO-proposed dubious “trilateral commission” schemes and instead has insisted on the workers’ inalienable right to organize their resistance and unity through independent workers organisations and not through state-sanctioned “workers’ organizations.”
But the IRI considers the struggle of the workers for this basic right as a political act of revolt and rebellion to be punished as a threat to its existence.
This is a testament to the fact that the Islamic Republic is profoundly isolated and hated in Iran. Its “anti-imperialist” sloganeering on the international stage is mocked by the people in the streets of Iran, who consider it nothing but an act aimed at cutting sweet deals with the imperialist-capitalist bosses of the world. This phoney show should not fool anyone about the true nature of the Islamic Republic state and the brutal reactionary ruling class which has woven Iran intrinsically into the international web of the capitalist system and intensified the super-exploitation and poverty of the people of Iran.
Show your outrage against this anti-people regime and your solidarity with the workers and peoples of Iran – fight for freedom and life of Mahmood Salehi. Mahmood is a fine and courageous worker who must be supported by all toiling masses and progressive people around the world.
Take local initiatives to bring this case to the public opinion of the world. Organize protests in front of IRI embassies throughout the world!
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