Former Haft Tappeh CEO Omid Asadbeigi was convicted this week of interfering with the foreign exchange market and smuggling foreign currency (there were two separate smuggling cases, totaling 1.4 billion euros) and sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to return all the smuggled assets. Although Asadbeigi’s conviction is a great victory for the Haft Tappeh sugar mill workers’ movement—which had been calling for his dismissal and trial since 2018—it addresses only one aspect of the workers’ demands.
The new round of Haft Tappeh strikes and protests, now entering its third week, has seen workers holding demonstrations in front of various government buildings around Shush, including the state and county offices, with protesters saying they will not desist until all of their demands are met.
According to ISNA, after the seizure of Haft Tappeh from Asadbeigi—announced in May and executed this August—the government handed over its administration to the Nishkar Development Company. The workers don’t see the new management as a positive development, especially since trust in government promises is as low as ever. For example, there has been no progress on the fulfillment of delayed and unpaid wages, a central demand of the recent protests.
Another of the workers’ demands was that fired colleagues be allowed to return to work. Over the years of Haft Tappeh labor protests, a number of workers, including Esmail Bakhshi, Mohammad Khanifar, Salar Bizhani, and Iman Akhzari, were imprisoned and are still barred from returning to their jobs. In their protest on Thursday, the Haft Tappeh workers reemphasized their commitment to the return of their coworkers.
Additionally, they demanded an end to the persecution of Farzaneh Zilabi, the Haft Tappeh workers’ attorney who has fought to have their demands addressed, with a protest in front of the Shush justice department. Zilabi has been sentenced to a year in prison and forbidden from leaving the country for two years for the crimes of “propaganda against the regime” and “acts against national security.”