The Iranian regime has deployed foreign militants, including members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, to break up the strike by over 2,000 workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar cane refinery.
The extremist Shia militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries where Iran has established terrorist organisations are being stationed at the local police station, under the direction of the Revolutionary Guards. The strike is now in its fifth day (click here for more information).
The workers, the majority of whom are Ahwazi Arabs, are protesting against months of unpaid wages, the lack of democratic trade union organisation and the effects of economic liberalisation on the sugar sector, which has led to an influx of cheap sugar imports that has devastated privately owned sugar producers. They have also demanded the resignation of the provincial governor; Khuzestan has seen frequent changes in the provincial governorship since the Ahwazi uprising in April 2005.
Earlier, a worker who wished to remain anonymous said: "Government forces have tried to prevent the protests but they have failed. The governor told the workers that the issue is out of his hands and that the security services will take action against the workers who he claims want a riot. This means that our demands for wages are regarded as an act of disorder and anyone who seek his rights he should be beaten. Are the workers slaves to work without payment?"
A protesting Ahwazi Arab worker told Radio Farda that "the Islamic Republic of Iran helps Palestine and Arab countries, how come they have money to help them but they don't to pay us?"