Massive Strike Across Various Cities

Oil-sector workers in southern Iran launched a strike in several cities on December 17, demanding higher wages and other benefits.

According to social-media reports, pickets have been reported in Mahshahr, Ahvaz, Asaluyeh, and other locations in Iran’s oil-rich south. The Telegram channels of the Oil Workers’ Protest Organizing Council and the Free Workers’ Union were posting updates on the strike.

In a statement, the Oil Workers’ Protest Organizing Council called for a nationwide oil workers’ strike, citing a lack of job security in the sector, especially for workers involved in the protests.

It was unclear how many workers were involved in the protests. Reuters reported that Iran’s Oil Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

The oil workers’ protest comes amid a national wave of unrest that has presented the stiffest challenge to the country’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Hundreds of people took to the streets on December 16 in southeastern Iran as the protests entered their fourth month.

The reformist daily newspaper Ham Mihan reported on December 17 that defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Kamfiruzi, who has been defending two female journalists arrested while covering the protests, has himself been arrested on unknown charges. The newspaper said 25 defense lawyers have been arrested since the protests began.

The unrest was triggered by the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She had been detained by the country’s notorious “morality” police for allegedly violating the strict Islamic dress code. Eyewitnesses said Amini was beaten during her detention, while authorities say she died of “underlying diseases.”

Security forces have waged a sometimes violent crackdown against the protests, killing scores, injuring hundreds, and detaining several thousand people.

The activist HRANA news agency said on December 15 that at least 637 students had been arrested during the unrest, as universities and schools have become leading venues for clashes between protesters and the authorities.

The Union Council of Iranian Students said on December 16 that the whereabouts of five female university students in the western city of Sanandaj were unknown following their arrests at a rally earlier this month.

The council called their detention a kidnapping.

Over the last three months, there have been several reports about the bodies of dead students being found at universities in Tehran, Shiraz, and Ahvaz.

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