Iranian strike leader beaten up in jail

Submitted by martin on 20 November, 2018 - 4:15
Demonstrators in Shush

Above: demonstrators in the streets of Shush

Esmail Bakhshi, the jailed union rep of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers, has been so badly beaten in prison that he was transferred to hospital for treatment.

He has injuries to his face and head, including severe bruising, and has suffered from internal bleeding. As of 29 November it is not clear if he is now back in jail or still in hospital.

Four of the striking Haft Tappeh sugar-cane workers, in south-west Iran, were arrested on 18 November. As of 29 November, three of those arrested have been released, but Esmail Bakhshi and social activist Sepideh Ghalian are still locked up.

On 27 November the Haft Tappeh workers gathered in front of Shush County Hall demanding the release of Bakhshi and Ghalian.

The Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union issued a number of statements on 27 November In one of them the union once again accused the BBC’s Persian service of lying about their main demand. This time the BBC surpassed its previous lying by claiming that the Haft Tappeh workers’ main demand is “how the company can be handed over to the private sector”!

In another statement the workers summed up their current demands:
1- The release of Esmail Bakhshi, the jailed workers’ representative.
2- Handing over the company from private sector to the state.
3- Payment of all unpaid wages (and benefits/bonuses).
4- Implementation of the job classification schedule.
5- Other trade union demands.

An earlier statement had said that the regime’s agents had raided Ali Nejati’s home but, as he was not at home, had been unable to arrest him. Ali Nejati is a member of the union and was previously its leader.
On 17 November, the 13th day of the sugar workers' strike and the fourth day of general protests in Shush, the sugar workers were joined by their families and many residents of Shush.

At the same time hundreds of striking National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) steelworkers protested in the streets of Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, about 100km south of Shush. Workers in both cities chanted solidarity slogans in support of each other.

The steelworkers are striking over unpaid wages. Just in 2018 the steelworkers have been on strike and held street protests in February, March, June and August. The Iranian regime has beaten up workers and jailed more than forty.

On Friday 16th the sugar workers had carried a coffin - representing the demise of Haft Tappeh - through the streets of Shush. They chanted slogans like "One less fraud and our problems will be solved".

They gate-crashed Shush's Friday prayers and chanted slogans there about being hungry.

On 13 November steelworkers had joined the Haft Tappeh workers in another protest at Shush County Hall.

Updates at

To add your name, or the name of your trade union or Labour Party organisation, to this solidarity statement, email

The Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign is collecting solidarity messages for the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company workers in Iran’s south-west province of Khuzestan.

The workers renewed their strike on 5 November. On top of many bread-and-butter issues like unpaid wages, the workers’ main demand is that the Iranian regime “expropriates the company and ends the private sector ownership of Haft Tappeh... under the supervision of workers’ councils and general opinion …”

We send our solidarity to the Haft Tappeh workers.

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