Saturday, August 1, 2009

Iranian print workers speak out

Iranian print workers speak out
July 30, 2009

Over the past decade, an underground labor movement has emerged in Iran.
Despite violent police attacks and mass detentions--only
state-controlled "labor organization" are legal in Iran--groups of
workers have formed clandestine unions.

One of these groups, the Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of
Tehran , issued a statement to participants in the protests for the
international day of solidarity held July 25.

Protesters pour through the streets of Tehran following the disputed
June 12 election (Javad Saharban)Protesters pour through the streets of
Tehran following the disputed June 12 election (Javad Saharban)

ON THE occasion of Iran Solidarity Day, we men and women members of the
Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran (IUPWT) would like to
extend to you, halfway across the globe, our deep appreciation for your
support and solidarity with our cause.

After an initial period of confusion and self-doubt, the dictatorship
has regained its confidence and is determined to crush our country's
young democratic movement and arrest or eliminate its leader, Mir
Hussein Mousavi.

Our union, IUPWT, is centered on a number of large and mostly state- or
semi-state-owned enterprises accounting for the bulk of the books and
print media published in the capital. Because of the harsh police
conditions imposed against labor organizing, our union activists and the
workers who support us have to operate under the constant threat of
arrest, imprisonment in solitary conditions, physical and mental abuse,
and dismissal from work.

At the time of rising unemployment, the least of these measures,
dismissal from work, could have devastating effect on our workers and
their families. These are illegal acts that are even against the Iranian
regime's own constitution, not to mention all the international
covenants to which the Iranian government is a signatory.

As you all well know, the courage of our people, especially its young,
has transformed Iran into a new country. There is mass repression going
on against our people, but the dictatorship has lost its aura of
invincibility and its mystique of superior, otherworldly power. And for
the first time in more than a generation, there is hope again in the
country. You could see it in the faces of the old and the young. It is
hope for a new beginning, hope for democracy, and hope for a life
without tyranny.

Further, the success of the Green Wave movement in Iran could be an
inspiration for millions of people in the other countries of the Muslim
world. They could see that they could build grassroots democracy with
their own hands and without any supposedly benevolent foreign hand
aiding and abetting them. The Green Wave movement is democratic, it is
nonviolent, and it is independent.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

DEAR FRIENDS, at this point, allow us to speak freely to you. There are
some dangerous misconceptions about the democratic movement in Iran that
must be addressed urgently.

One of these misconceptions is that the Green Wave movement is a rich
man's movement, whereas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is a
pro-working class and pro-poor people's movement, headed by a humble man
of the people. This is a gross and blatant lie. Our movement is
supported by millions of the poor and the working people. Ahmadinejad is
a demagogue who has surrounded himself with ex-Revolutionary Guards and
present-day multimillionaires who care absolutely nothing for the poor.

If he is pro-working class, why did he want to end 70 percent of all
subsidies last year? Why did he change the labor law against the
workers' interests? Why does he systematically arrest, imprison and
torture labor activists? This is an insult to the working people of
Iran--that they support a petty dictator because he has bought them off
by cash handouts and free foodstuffs at election time.

Ahmadinejad is as much a progressive man of the people as Mussolini was
pro-working class and anti-capitalist. Further, as reformist leaders
have acknowledged, without support from the Iranian working class, this
regime will not give an inch to our just demands. After all, it was only
after workers--especially the oil workers--went on strike 30 years ago
that the Shah of Iran had to leave the country.

We suspect that this myth is bought by those in the worldwide
progressive movement that automatically assume anybody who stands up or
pretends to stand up to the American Empire must be a noble nationalist.

To these friends, we must say that anti-Americanism is just a fig leaf
for the most reactionary and obscurantist forces in Iran, who need it to
hide their deeds--namely, their incompetence, their theft of national
property and their repression against their own people and their
personal enrichment in the name of religion. If Mr. Khamenei has
benefited the progressive anti-imperialist cause anywhere, it has been
out of opportunism and nothing else!

Let us hope that foreign governments do not try to take advantage of
Iran's internal problems for their own selfish goals. Let us hope that
the ongoing situation continues to discredit and expose the true
intentions of Ahmadinejad and his backers to the world until they are
tried in their country for their crimes against the Iranian people. And
let us hope that through international solidarity, that day is closer at

Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran and its Environs


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Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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