Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Photos: Iran's truck drivers launch a fifth round of strikes - Hassan Mahmoudi

by Hassan Mahmoudi

Iran's fed-up truckers launch a fifth round of strikes against the mullahs - and here are six photos showing what it looked like.

Iranian truck drivers have begun another prolonged nationwide strike, angered by rising business costs. It's the result of the U.S. sanctions, squeezing Iran's economy. The Iranian regime claims to have a popular base opposing U.S. President Donald Trump and standing against any sanctions. However, despite the regime's rhetoric, Iranian truck-drivers are not blaming Trump. They are protesting, by parking their vehicles on highways and around parking lots in a show of solidarity.

They have drawn the support of international labor federations. Two months after an earlier lengthy strike, they drew international support from large and small groups such as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC, with 27 million members), the Trades Union Congress (TUS), Labor Start (Switzerland), Industrial Global Union (Switzerland), Industrial Workers of the World (IWW- England), Labor Unions of Italy, CGIL, CISL, UIL, and the United Road Transport Union (URTU- England).

Despite the Iranian regime's suppressive measures, including harassment, arrests, and executions – announced by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri – the nationwide strike of the heavy vehicles, and other truck-drivers continues and has intensified in different cities in Iran. 

Numerous cities across the country are witnessing truck drivers launch a new wave of nationwide strikes, which began on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2018, marking the fifth such movement. According to previously made arrangements, truckers will be on strike until Dec. 31.

Video clips posted online by striking Iranian truck drivers showed trucks on strike in huge numbers of cities, including Ardakan, Hamedan, Arak, Nahavand, Saveh, Shahrud, Neka, Borujerd, Kermanshah, Bardsir, Sirjan, Shahr-e Babak, Sanandaj, Kerman, Qom, Qazvin, Shiraz, Marvdasht, Abadeh, Kazerun, Zahedan, Chabahar, Kashmar, Taybad, Sabzevar, Neyshabur, Mashhad, Garmeh, Nehbandan, Lordegan, Shahr-e Kord, Tehran, Bushehr, Ilam, Semirom, Shahreza, Isfahan, Najaf Abad, Shahin Shahr, Zarrin Shahr, Mobarakeh, Ardabil, Urmia, Tabriz and many more. Signs indicate other cities will join the strike in the upcoming days.

Truckers strike in Sari, in the north of Iran, on Dec. 21, 2018
The protests are aimed at the corruption of law enforcement by government agencies, high fuel and spare parts prices, low income, poor road conditions, and zero insurance coverage.

These things are the result of the mullah regime's Transportation Organization, but the regime's tax department has also been pressing the drivers by imposing new taxes. This is in addition to all sorts of commissions and charges imposed on drivers by various government departments, often in harassing moves. Drivers have been demanding a change of the corrupt management of Iran's Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization, but mullah President Hassan Rouhani's government is interested only in extorting money from drivers using various pretenses.

The strike is the fifth such round in what has become a series of strikes. According to Iran News Wire, truck drivers began this wave of nationwide organized strikes last September, with truck drivers in 112 cities across Iran launching the first of the nationwide and coordinated strikes. This protest was in response to previous calls for such pre-planned measures.

Truckers strike in Mashad, in the northeast of Iran, on Dec. 21, 2018

As with other protests, Iranian authorities have failed to respond to the needs of the striking truck drivers. During the last four rounds of strikes, they responded by attempting to intimidate the truckers and force them to return to work. These efforts have not been effective. However, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the mullahs’ intelligence apparatus did take repressive measures to prevent any expansion of strike. For example, the outspoken Haft Tappeh labor representative, Esmaeil Bakhshi, who is known for his passionate speeches during the workers’ weeks-long strike actions, was detained on Nov. 18 on the fourteenth day of the sugarcane workers’ strike and was released on Dec. 12 on bail. Since his release, he has been absent from workers' strikes and other labor activities.

Haft Tappeh labor representative Esmaeil Bakhshi

“He was beaten until he was on the verge of death,” a source said, adding that some of his ribs were also probably broken. Bakhshi's relative said he was severely tortured in detention and was now suffering from severe physical and psychological problems.

To end this, truck drivers across Iran, continuing their nationwide strike, are playing a major role in countering this regime's long history of barbarism. Their strikes serve to generate hope in Iran's society.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in economic issues relating to Iran. Follow him on Twitter at @hassan_mahmou1


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