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Iranian regime escalates attacks on trade unionists with arrest of strike leader

IRAN’S theocratic regime has escalated attacks on trade unionists with strike leader Esmail Bakhshi arrested this morning as the government tries to crush industrial unrest in the country.

It is reported that Mr Bakhshi, who is one of the main leaders of the month-long Haft Tappeh sugarcane factory strike, was detained in a night-time raid by Iranian security services.

Civil rights activist Sepideh Gholian, who had backed the strikes and posted her support on social media, was reported to have been arrested and brutally beaten by government forces.

Both had been jailed in November for their role in the wave of strike action that saw workers uniting in opposition to the Iranian regime.

On Saturday night, national broadcasting service IRIB aired a 16-minute video clip in its bulletin which in part showed the “confessions” of Mr Bakhshi, Ms Gholian and Ali Nejati (the former president of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers Union) about their links and coordination with outlawed left-wing forces.

The Tudeh Party of Iran said the “orchestrations by the bankrupt regime are to portray the protests of millions of workers in Iran – against poverty, corruption, injustice and repression – as being linked to external elements.“

It warned the regime feared the rise of popular protests and is preparing a major offensive against the labour and trade union movement.

Tudeh international secretary Navid Shomali told the Star that televising confessions by victims of torture was a reminder of the attacks of the 1980s against the party, when thousands were jailed and many members executed.

“The regime cannot be allowed to deploy arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman measures in response to the legitimate demands of the workers for their unpaid wages, bread and shelter,” he said.

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