Iran detains at least 10 sugar factory workers after strike

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At least 10 workers at a major Iranian sugar factory have been detained following new strikes in protest against management, the Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported on Wednesday.

The Haft Tappeh Sugarcane factory employees were summoned and arrested on Tuesday following the strikes last week.

According to fellow workers quoted by ILNA, this brought the combined number of arrests over the May 9 strikes to more than 14, four of whom have been released on bail, ILNA reported.

The factory, located in the southwestern Khuzestan Province, around 500 kilometers south of the capital Tehran, has been the scene of multiple industrial actions over the last year.

In November, workers began a weeks-long strike over wages arrears and alleged criminal activity by new private owners.

In January, strike organizers Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian were arrested for a second time after claiming they had been tortured in detention.

Before their arrest, state TV broadcast a program alleging that they had connections with Europe-based activists who “aim to topple the state”.

The program featured footage of Bakhshi and Gholian sitting behind desks in front of red and blue curtains, detailing their ties with the activists, allegedly based in several European countries.

The footage was undated and taken in an unknown location. The Haft Tapeh arrests follow the detention of a number of workers and labor activists who held a demonstration in front of the parliament in Tehran on May 1.

In a statement issued on Tuesday in Beirut, Human Rights Watch said that “at least eight activists and journalists” are still in custody.

The New York-based group called on Iranian authorities to release them “immediately and unconditionally”.

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