Iranian state security forces violently attacked a peaceful gathering of HEPCO industrial complex workers on Monday, which led to 15 workers being injured and 30-40 being arrested.
The HEPCO workers in the central city of Arak were holding their second consecutive day of protests to demand answers on their status as company shareholders.
The protesting workers held a banner that read: “We HEPCO workers are making it crystal clear: Our main demand is the clarification of the company shareholding and ownership status following five years of being left in limbo. We will no longer accept merely a new company director.”
The HEPCO employees have held similar protests before. On Saturday, September 7, they held a protest outside the company’s main office building with signs demanding the clarification of the status of their company stocks and shares.
They held a sign that read: “We HEPCO workers are shouting loud and clear that we are demanding the clarification of our share-holding status and ownership of the HEPCO Company after five years of being left in limbo. We’re not looking for just a new company manager.”
They had also protested over unpaid wages and the uncertain fate of the company in May.
Last year, it was reported that the Arak Penal Court had sentenced 15 HEPCO workers to 1-2 years in prison and 74 lashes for “disrupting public order” and “instigating workers via the internet to demonstrate and riot”.
It’s important to know that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently appointed Abolfazl Roghani as the new director-general of the HEPCO holding company, something he announced via a Privatization Organization statement.
It should also be noted that Article 27 of Iran’s Constitution states: “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”
However, peaceful labor activism is treated as a national security offense in Iran, with workers regularly threatened, detained, tortured and even flogged for participating in peaceful protests to demand their legitimate rights.
Still, the suppression has not stopped the Iranian people from protesting. According to the website of the most popular Iranian Resistance group, the People's Mojahedin (PMOI or MEK), the following groups have been out in protest:
• Teachers who had been dispatched to teach in foreign countries in previous years, rallied outside the regime’s Ministry of Education in Tehran for the second day on Sunday to protest their delayed paychecks
• Workers of the Persian Gulf Road Transportation Company held yet another rally outside the company’s management office on Sunday in Eslamshahr to protest a change in their contracts demoting them
• Employees of the Qazvin Counter Manufacturing Company rallied outside the regime’s provincial office in Qazvin on Sunday to demand their paychecks that have been delayed for 20 months