Iran: 15 HEPCO workers sentenced to flogging for protesting
Fifteen workers of the Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO), were sentenced to prison and flogging in Iran.
ILNA state-run News Agency said that a preliminary ruling by the 106th Branch of the Arak Penal Court sentenced each HEPCO worker to one to two years of prison and 74 lashes for “disrupting public order” and “instigating workers via the internet to demonstrate and riot”. The sentences have been suspended for five years.
Human rights groups have identified the 15 workers as Majid Latifi, Behrouz Hasanvand, Hamidreza Ahmadi, Amir Houshang Pour Farzanegan, Morteza Azizi, Hadi Fazeli, Abolfazl Karimi, Farid Kodani, Majid Yahyaie, Amir Fatahpour, Yaser Gholi, Amir Farid Afshar, Mehdi Abedi, Ali Maleki and Berouz Valashajardi.
The workers had protested their unpaid wages and the uncertain fate of the company in May.
HEPCO, an Iranian company that produces road construction equipment in Iran and the Middle East, was privatized last year. Labor rights activists say that the plight of workers began right after the privatization.
Iran’s Free Trade Union reported on its Telegram channel that “8,000 workers used to work at the HEPCO industrial complex before its privatization. Now, only 1,000 of them are left.”
Iranian laborers who hold protest rallies and strikes demanding not only higher pay, but their unpaid wages are in danger of persecution.
According to Amnesty International, “independent unions in Iran are banned, workers have few legal rights or protections, and union activists are regularly beaten, arrested, jailed and tortured.”
Iran’s Labor Code does not grant citizens the right to form independent unions, despite Iran’s ratification of the UN’s International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and membership in the International Labor Organization.
Before this in October, a court in Qazvin Province called for the death penalty against 17 striking truck drivers in the north western province.
The calls were strongly condemned by five major labor unions, including the International Transport Federation (ITF), who said they were “shocked” at the prospect of execution for truckers in a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iranian truckers’ went on a strike which lasted more than 20 days in protest to low pay and the high cost of spare parts.
More than 250 truck drivers were detained during the course of the strike and threats of death were issued by government officials who labeled the drivers “road bandits”, which carries severe punishment and sometimes the death sentence in Iran.