By Jubin Katiraie
Seven Iranian protesters have been jailed because they cannot afford the fine levied against them for a peaceful demonstration that they attended in 2017, where they demanded that the Agh Dareh Gold Mine hire locals rather than looking for cheaper laborers elsewhere.
The seven were sentenced to a fine of 5 million tomans (around $270) or 21 months in prison, but because five of them were unemployed, one of them had to leave his job at the mine, and one works as a shepherd, they could not afford the fine and so they are being arrested and taken to prison.
Daryoush Nikzad, who used to work in the mine, was arrested on June 10 to serve his sentence and now locals in the impoverished region of Agh Dareh are trying to raise funds to pay the fines.
The ILNA news agency said the head of the Agh Dareh Mining Company retracted his complaint against the locals, roughly seven or eight months ago, with the lawyer confirming it with the Justice Department, but the public prosecutor pressed charges anyway for the public nature of the so-called crime.
Essentially, Iranians are not allowed to protest and the regime will punish them if they do to set an example and discourage more protests. IndustriALL Global trade Union reported that 17 gold miners from Agh Dareh were publicly flogged in May 2016 because they protested when the company fired 350 employees.
The regime doesn’t recognize independent labor unions, so workers in Iran are routinely given cruel and unusual punishments for peaceful assembly and protest, something made even worse when you realize that all Iranian workers like below the poverty line and are regularly denied their already meager wages.
The Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), which with around 5.5 million members is the second-largest trade union in Europe, issued a statement earlier this month to express their solidarity with Iranian workers. In it, CGIL exposed the ghastly plight of Iranian workers and asked both the International Labor Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to “defend the fundamental rights of workers” there.
This comes after one worker died from suicide after jumping into an oil well in southwestern Iran last week in protest at having not received his wages. Another man would have died from suicide in the same manner and for the same reason by his co-workers saved him in time.