Iranian police have detained dozens of labor activists and at least two journalists as they violently dispersed a May Day demonstration in central Tehran, reports say.
Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that at least 35 demonstrators, mainly members of the Tehran Bus Drivers’ Union, were detained during the May 1 rally outside the parliament building.
Some of the protesters were reportedly dragged on the ground and beaten before being taken into custody.
Videos shared on social media showed the demonstrators chanting slogans against high living costs and rising inflation. The participants also called for the right to establish independent labor organizations.
The police crackdown came as Amnesty International urged Iranian authorities to release all labor rights activists “arbitrarily detained solely for taking part in peaceful protests and strikes.”
In a statement issued on International Workers’ Day, the London-based human rights watchdog said it had documented the arrests of hundreds of workers and other labor rights activists over the past year as part of a campaign by the authorities to “repress social unrest and public dissent.”
Prison sentences were handed down to dozens of them, it said.
Amnesty International also called on the Iranian authorities to lift their “unlawful” ban on independent trade unions and allow workers to “form and join independent trade unions.”
According to Iranian human rights activist Mohammad Mozaffari, labor union activists Reza Shahabi, Hassan Saeedi, Vahid Fereidouni, Asadollah Soleimani and Nasser Moharramzadeh had been arrested during the May 1 protest in Tehran.
At least two reporters, identified as Kayvan Samimi and Marzieh Amiri, were also said to have been arrested.
Iran’s economic crisis has worsened over the past year, in part due to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Amid high levels of inflation and skyrocketing living costs, workers in both the private and public sectors have taken to the streets and gone on strike to protest against poor working conditions, as well as delays in and the nonpayment of wages.
Source » rferl