News : Human rights
- Published: Thursday, 30 April 2020
Annually, laborers celebrate May 1st as a sign of the workforce’s power in achieving their basic rights. In 1886, more than 400,000 American workers initiated a strike to reduce the working hours from fourteen to eight in a day.
Eventually, around 500,000 workers gained their demands after tolerating bloody suppression including the death of five workers and detention and execution of four leaders of the labor movement.
To pay homage to the victims and their achievements, the Paris-based Congress of the Socialist International announced May 1st as the International Workers’ Day in 1889. On this day, many activists congratulate workers and encourage them to continue their struggle for fair, lawful rights. In this respect, Iranian political prisoner Mehdi Farahi Shandiz wrote an open letter addressing Iranian workers.
Mr. Shandiz graduated in electrical engineering major at the Isfahan University of Technology. He is a tireless labor activist and has been sentenced to imprisonment three times due to revealing the corrupt nature of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and chanting the slogan, “Death to Khamenei” inside the prison.
“I Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, a political prisoner from Karaj penitentiary, congratulate International Workers' Day to all workers and wage earners.
“This year, due to the deadly coronavirus, we cannot continue to take to the streets and march-like November and December. Unfortunately, we cannot demonstrate our powerful, united queue to eradicate this barbaric and enslaved environment.
“In this respect, I along with other activists and labor unions announce my protest against the rule of suppression, crime, and slavery. I urge all to unitedly protest against oppression, exploitation and diagnosing wages by several times below the poverty line.
“We celebrate May 1st wherever we are, whether inside prisons or outside, on our homes’ balconies, inside the factory where we have been forced to work, and regardless of quarantine measures. This year, we hold out grand gatherings in social media groups instead of on the streets.
“We specify deadline and shout, “We will not live more under tyranny.” We see determining current basic wages for the labor community, which are several times below the poverty line, as a declaration of war and we resist it. We object to the arrest, detention, flogging, and imprisonment of labor activists and the dismissal and unemployment of workers.
“We hate both [officials’] staller salaries and our below-the-poverty-line wages. We hate poverty, hunger, torture, and the death penalty. We once again shout our demands on the Labor Day according to issued resolutions and statements and say, ‘It’s enough!’”
Mr. Shandiz also bore intensive ill-treatment by interrogators and went on a hunger strike on several occasions. Given the inhuman pressures by authoritarians, he fell in a heart attack in July 2019. He ended his open letter by calling on all workers and freedom-loving people and writing:
“Working men and women, and all freedom-fighters!
We should carry out our voice to the whole world against this scale of slavery and oppression by the rule of ignorance and superstition. We should widely pay homage to May 1st and raise our cries against the regime’s crimes.
Long live May 1st, International Workers’ Day,
Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, Iranian political prisoner from Karaj Central Penitentiary,
April 28, 2020.
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