Sepideh Gholian, a student labor rights activist has been arrested again for participating in the recent wave of Iran protests against the increase in gas prices. Videos of her participating in the protests went viral on social media and the Iranian intelligence officers raided her residence, using excessive violence to arrest her.
The “Campaign for Defending the Arrested Workers’ of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company” on the messaging app Telegram announced that the security forces Arrested Gholian on the night of Saturday, Nov 17.
On the day of Nov 17, she had taken part in the protests in Ahvaz holding a placard that read: “You increased gasoline by 300%; did you raise wages?”
After the video of Gholian protesting went viral, the authorities raided her residence in the city of Ahvaz in the southern province of Khuzestan and arrested her using excessive force. She was beaten up, according to the campaign while being cuffed and taken into custody.
This is the third time, the government of Iran arrests Sepideh Gholian in the past two years. She has been involved with the workers’ movement of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Complex, disseminating information about the workers’ protests online.
The nationwide protests erupted in Iran as of Friday 18 Nov, against the decision of Iran’s National Oil Company (NIOPDC) to double gas prices. Doubling the price of fuel overnight has hit the Iranian people hard, many of whom have side jobs working as taxi and Snapp (Iran’s Uber) drivers.
Sepideh Gholian took part in the recent wave of gas-related protests despite being out of prison conditionally and on a hefty bail.
A video that is circulated on social media shows Sepideh attending the protests against the gas price hike. In this video, she is chanting: “neither threat nor prison does not affect us anymore:”
حضور #سپیده_قلیان در یکی از اعتراضات خیابانی
— Amjad Hossein Panahi (@amjad_panahi) November 18, 2019
In Sept 2019, branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Sepideh Gholian to 18 years in prison for covering the news of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane workers on social media.
Gholian and five other labor rights prisoners who have all received similar harsh sentences in Iranian Revolutionary Courts were recently released on hefty bail. Such released are usually conditional and pending the decision of the appeals courts.
Iran has witnessed an increase in the number of workers’ protests and strikes in the past two years, mostly due to the worsening of economic conditions, raising prices, unpaid wages, and benefits.
The recent nationwide protests in Iran started on Friday, and it continued on Monday for the fourth day. In these unrests, at least ten people were killed and several others injured. So far at least 1000 protesters have been arrested.
It is reported that about 150 banks, shops, and buildings were set to fire and teared up, and more than one thousand people have been arrested. The protesters’ slogans were initially about the gas price, but in recent days it targeted the Iranian officials and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei.