On April 20, Ali Moezzi, a political prisoner in Iran and father of two members of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), began experiencing severe nausea while being held in Evin Prison in northwestern Tehran. Finding him in critical condition, guards relocated him to the infirmary before transferring him back to his cell. His symptoms resemble poisoning, a tactic sometimes used to harm or intimidate prisoners in Iran.
In Sanandaj, in western Iran, the authorities summoned workers and their representatives in order to browbeat them into not supporting International Workers Day.
The threats, which come on the heels of a recent escalation in its unemployment crisis, are part of a broader crackdown on dissent in Iran that began in 2015. Iran has threatened and imprisoned peaceful labor activists in recent years.
This year Workers Day, which takes place on May 1 and features activism for workers’ rights, was faced with higher-than-usual security and severe crackdowns on protestors.
Abolghasem Fooladvand, who was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment in 2014 for his alleged links to the People’s Mojahedein of Iran (PMOI), has said:
“This current government… [does] not wish to solve the problems of our teachers, nurses, pensioners and other classes of people in this country. It is our duty to cry out slogans of ‘Work, Bread, Freedom’ with the battle to overthrow and eradicate the anti-human Mullah regime”.
Following demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere on April 30, individuals engaged in peaceful activism were detained until the end of the day, or until May 1, and were later to be subject to trial. As of May 10, at least 10 unionists were in prison after what the World Organization Against Torture considers sham trials.
According to that group, “scores of other workers” were also detained and may face trial at some future date.
The measures have effectively outlawed labor union organization in Iran, where labor control is now largely exercised by the state.