On 5th June, a group of activists from “ Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran” and the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) organised an action inside the Palais des Nations (Palace of the Nations) in Geneva where the 101st Conference of the ILO was taking place. Due to tight security, it was not possible this year to do something at the beginning of the Conference, so we held an action a few days later.

On 5th June, between 11am and 12pm, when a large number of delegates were on a break at the conference cafe, two activists of the WPI held a red banner that read "Iran out of ILO". Everyone could see the banner, and we moved in the direction of the cafe, shouting slogans such as "Iran out of ILO!" to bring attention to our action. A minute later, the UN Security took our banner, but as we were still inside the building and delegates were watching us, I began to make a short speech in English, saying there are no representatives of Iranian workers inside the ILO; that worker activists in Iran are in jail and that the Islamic Republic should be expelled from the ILO. At the same time, comrades who were sitting at the cafe held pictures of jailed workers in Iran and gave out leaflets calling on the delegates to boycott the Islamic Republic's delegation during the ILO conference. A few minutes later, we were all put outside of the building by the Security, who took our badges so that we could not return to the building. By this action, a day before the discussion of the report on worker rights’ violations around the world, we wanted to throw light on the situation of workers and unionists in Iran. We wanted also to remind the delegates that the so-called worker delegates from the Islamic Republic of Iran are just cops and agents of the regime, not representatives of the working class and the people in Iran. It is important to mention that some delegates from the Islamic Republic of Iran were present in the cafe during our action.
In another action, still inside the building, at the main Conference Hall the flag of the Islamic Republic was pulled down and thrown on the floor.
The following day, on 6th June, we participated in a demonstration organised by activists from the French unions CGT, CFDT, Solidaires, UNSA and FSU in support of worker rights and to free jailed workers in Iran. Various unionists from different countries and unions made speeches in support of worker rights in Iran. A member of the CGT said it's unfortunate that we need to demonstrate again for worker rights in Iran, like last year, as we did after the execution of Farzad Kamangar, and that the Islamic Republic is still putting worker activists in jail, giving no rights to organise independent unions, to strike or to demonstrate for the workers in Iran. An activist from the Egyptian union EFITU, an independent union created by workers during the 2011 revolution against Mubarak, made a speech in solidarity with workers in Iran. A member of the Algerian Autonomous Union said that Algerian and Iranian workers have the same struggle for freedom against dictatorship. He denounced the official Algerian union UGTA, linked to the regime, which speaks with the delegation of the Islamic Republic instead of demonstrating with us. There were also speeches from a union from Senegal, from other French workers’ unions and from a union in Geneva, Switzerland. An activist from the FSU (French teachers’ union) and an activist from the Women March of Senegal made speeches against gender Apartheid in Iran and for women’s rights.
A worker activist from Iran, Habib Reza Pour, who was in jail for his union activity with Tehran’s Vahed bus workers’ union, made a very strong speech, explaining how important it is for jailed workers to feel the international solidarity of the labour movement. Habib Reza Pour was also interviewed by the Building and Wood Workers’ International about the situation of the working class in Iran.
During this demonstration we made contacts with comrades from various unions, such as the French CGT, the Egyptian EFITU and the Building and Wood Workers’ International.
These were just two days of actions, and the struggle continues! For strike, demonstration and organisation rights, to free all jailed workers in Iran, and to overthrow the Islamic regime of murderers, butchers and anti-worker terrorism.
Pacal Descamps
Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran
7th June 2012

Further info:
Shahla Daneshfar:
Bahram Soroush: