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Issue #1777      May 17, 2017

Solidarity with Iranian mineworkers

An explosion in Zemestan Yurt Coal Mine in northwest of Iran buried miners alive. In the aftermath of the explosion where the mine tunnel collapsed, trapping miners inside, the following must be of grave concern.

The Islamic Republic, which is busy building the momentum for its presidential election, to attract workers and other segments of society to participate in the election, has conflicting news of the mine incident published by news agencies in Iran, initially reporting two deaths and 50 trapped miners. Even the governor of Golestan province, with no shame at all, said: “the cause of the explosion is the negligence of the miners themselves”.

Minute by minute, the scale of the catastrophe has increased, and today the extent of this explosion in the Zemestan Yurt Coal Mine, is the largest disaster in the history of mining in Iran. This is an accident, in which at the time of writing, 21 miners’ lives have been lost, and it is expected that the death toll will rise higher.

What can be said about the Azarshahr Coal Mine is that the Coal Mine was privatised in 2002-2003, and its major stakeholder, with 20%, is the Iranian Mehr Fund (Basij – the regime’s militia), about 10% the Takido (industrial and reclamation mining complex of Sepahan), and partly owned by Negin Tabas . Also, reports say that the Indusial and Mining co, northeast of Shahrood, with Ali Nasiri as the CEO, is the beneficiary of the Zemestan Yurt Coal Mine.

The working conditions of this mine are inhumane, with the fundamental problems of unpaid wages. According to one of the miners, some of them have not been paid for 17 months. A large number of the miners are either not insured, or have been working in the harsh conditions of slavery, with greedy employers being the beneficiaries of their toil.

The coal mines in Iran, on one hand, have had the lowest level of safety in recent years and on the other hand, the number of miners lost, and who continue to lose their lives every year, is due to greed for maximum profit of the capitalist system of the Islamic Republic. This is at a time when labour activists, political organisers, and protesting workers, who are struggling to achieve their human rights have been severely oppressed, imprisoned, and in the latest scandal, have been sentenced to 100 lashes, expulsion from their jobs and other penalties.

We, the labour activists in the solidarity committees with the Iranian workers movement abroad, whilst expressing our sympathy and solidarity with the families of the miners, who have lost their loved ones in this inhuman tragedy, strongly condemn the Islamic Republic for hiding this terrible incident.

We believe that a crime of this dimension should not be forgotten by a cursory announcement by the Islamic Regime. We are calling on all the supporters, and sympathisers of the labour movement to protest widely and use all of our power against those who caused this heinous and inhuman crime, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The cause of this disaster is the greedy capitalist system of Islamic Republic. The Islamic Regime is directly responsible for all of those miners who died and the other injured ones. Those responsible must be disclosed and revealed before the people of the world.

Solidarity Committees with Iranian Workers Movement – Abroad

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